Healthy Cooking: Bye bye, nuggets. Hello, kid-approved chicken satay

Jan 30, 2018
  • By Kellie Hynes
  • For the AJC
Nut-free SunButter makes a sweet and spicy dipping sauce for chicken satay. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES

My neighbor occasionally asks me to babysit his young children. And I always agree, because I keep forgetting how utterly exhausting other people’s sticky, spirited darlings can be. So, to keep meltdowns (theirs, mine) at bay, or at least confined to the kitchen, I have started cooking with the little loves.

I’ve found picky eaters are more likely to try a new food if they’ve helped prepare it. These whippersnappers will only eat chicken a la nugget, so I decided we should make an easy chicken satay, which is basically grilled poultry on a stick. Stick food has always been a favorite of my own kiddos, except for the late-elementary school years when they turned the skewers into swords and poked each other in the face.

Simply slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts into long, thin strips. Then marinate the chicken in the refrigerator. Instead of the high-fat (albeit delicious) coconut milk that’s ubiquitous in satay recipes, I substituted plain nonfat Greek yogurt. I seasoned the marinade with curry powder, which is a one-and-done dried spice blend. Honey and fresh lime juice round out the flavors, but note that the chicken will start to break down in the acidic lime juice if it marinates longer than an hour.

The hardest part of this recipe is locating your skewers. If yours are metal, have a juice box to celebrate. But if you’re using bamboo skewers, it’s important that you submerge them in water for at least an hour before cooking, or else your next lesson will be on how to use the fire extinguisher. Let the wee ones thread the chicken onto the skewers. Then you take over, either grilling or broiling the chicken.

Sweet and spicy peanut sauce is the usual accompaniment to chicken satay. But peanuts are verboten in modern-day childhood, since so many tykes have nut allergies. Fortunately, SunButter, made from sunflower seeds, is a safe substitute. The only downside is that SunButter is relatively high in fat. To lighten the recipe, I replaced some of the SunButter with low-sodium chicken broth, which thickened beautifully into a dipping sauce. As I suspected, my charges enjoyed the novelty of eating chicken on a stick. No one poked an eye out, and everyone was thoroughly entertained, including, I’m pleased to say, me.