Back To School Chicken Recipe

I’m a big cookbook collector. I might have too many. It would probably take me a lifetime to really prepare each and every recipe in all of the cookbooks I own (but it would certainly be fun trying). What’s wonderful about cookbooks is they can be more than just a list of recipes. They can become a family ritual that leads to healthy eating.

I remember when my daughter, Elly was little. We had a little ritual where she would pick out recipes that she wanted me to make before she left for school in the morning. When she sat down for breakfast, I’d pull a cookbook out from my collection, and she’d rummage through it until she found a recipe that looked mouth-watering to her wide eyes.

Now, when Elly comes home from college (where has the time gone?), she still looks through my cookbooks and tells me what she thinks looks really good! Not only that, but also through this ritual that we’ve had together, I frequently get phone calls from her from school asking me about recipes and ideas for her to cook in her own kitchen.

This type of simple ritual can become a small part of your family legacy – passing down healthy cooking and eating habits from one generation to the next.

The Secret Ingredient Surprise

Just yesterday, I pulled a cookbook off of my shelf and opened it blindly to page 130. The book is called “Weeknight Gluten Free: Simple, Healthy Meals for Every Night of the Week” by Kristine Kidd. Sometimes I do that. I try a random recipe, and it’s like a fun challenge for me. Try it. Just open your favorite recipe book and whatever page it falls on is the dinner to make that evening or week.

When I opened Kristine’s book yesterday, I came across a recipe for Oven Fried Chicken with Baby Spinach Salad, and yes, it’s gluten-free. You’ll never guess how it’s gluten-free though! Instead of breading, the recipe calls for tortilla chips! What?

At first, I thought this was really odd. I love this book because the ingredients in the recipes are all fresh unlike a lot of other gluten-free cookbooks that use a lot of CRAP (carbs, refined sugars, additives, and preservatives) to make food taste better. But as I said, Kristine’s book is filled with fresh ingredients. I was surprised to find tortilla chips in one of her recipes.

Despite my initial reservations about using tortilla chips, I decided to go for it anyway, and I’m so happy I did! My family could not believe that what they were eating wasn’t fried chicken, and who doesn’t love the comfort of fried chicken? As I was eating it, I was thinking about how awesome it would be to share this recipe with you. This recipe is perfect for kids, and of course, it’s that time of year – back to school – so what better time to find a great, nutrient-dense meal for the kids? I felt like a kid eating this, too!

This recipe is so easy to make! I made a couple of tweaks from Kristine’s original recipe, which are included below. For the tortilla chips, I like Garden of Eatin or Que Pasa. Go ahead and give it a try. I bet you and your entire family will be happy that you did.

Oven Fried Chicken with Baby Spinach

½ cup olive oil

5.5 ounces of gluten-free tortilla chips

1 organic chicken cut into 1/8s or 1/4s

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

6 cups baby spinach

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Meanwhile, in a food processor, grind the tortilla chips finely and transfer to a plate. Mix in the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Brush chicken on both sides generously with ¼ cup olive oil (you might need more), and then sprinkle with extra salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the crumb mixture. Turning on both sides to coat, press into the crumbs to help adhere to the chicken. Arrange the chicken skin side up on the baking sheet.

Place in the oven and roast until the crust is brown and the chicken is cooked through, about 30-45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes to crisp.

In a small bowl, place the lime juice. Gradually whisk in the ¼ cup olive oil to make the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. In a salad bowl, combine the spinach and tomatoes. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat.


  • I might use romaine or mixed field greens in place of spinach.
  • I have also added ½ cup of feta cheese to the salad plus some cucumber.
  • If you don’t love the lime dressing, substitute the lime for 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.

That’s all there is to it! If you try this recipe (and trust me, you need to try this recipe), stop back by this post or the Simple Clean and Whole Facebook Page and tell me what you think about it!

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