Let’s get one thing straight – I have not always been a super healthy eater. While I have always liked my veggies and fruits, I also liked my fast food, sweets, and prepackaged convenience foods. When I was younger, I was all about what was easy and “tasted good” and not too concerned about the health (or lack thereof) in the foods that I was eating, plus I lived down the street from a Steak and Shake. According to Google, there are some Steak and Shake locations in the EU, but none in Ireland, so for those who may not know, it is a fast food diner type restaurant with greasy steak burgers, super skinny fries, and an expansive selection of milkshakes. It’s pretty underwhelming honestly, but it was convenient for me in terms of proximity, it was open late, inexpensive, and had pretty delicious honey mustard dipping sauce which I often craved with their heavily breaded and deep fried chicken fingers/goujons.
Nowadays, so much has changed that this type of food would never be appealing or any temptation to me anymore. I don’t miss fast or fried foods at all and as I said, this particular restaurant wasn’t really anything too special to me in the first place, but it was convenient. And research shows to a crazy extent, we are influenced tremendously by sheer convenience. Plain and simple, the easier is to do something, the more likely we are to do it.
The amount of time, effort, or decision making required for a particular action impacts our behavior when it comes to virtually anything: eating, exercising, spending vs. saving money, keeping in touch with friends and family, organizing and cleaning, etc. Realizing this and recognizing where we are being impacted by convenience (or inconvenience) in our lives can help us to clearly identify how to change the situation or circumstances to help shape better behaviors and squash the less desirables ones, i.e. late night fried food extravaganzas. It is much easier to alter our surroundings and conditions as opposed to our nature and personality. If we can clearly articulate the problem and why something like eating healthy or exercising feels inconvenient, we can better identify potential solutions.
The reasons why something might feel convenient or not will vary based on the specifics of the situation and person. For me, it was that at that point in time, I was often working late/second shift and very hungry when I came home. My options for eating out were limited based on the hour and realistically I did need to eat, but I was too tired or ill prepared (or lazy) to make something at home. I didn’t plan ahead so I may or may not have had groceries on hand and shopping for them and THEN going home to actually cook something felt like the epitome of inconvenience. And the siren calls of honey mustard dressing right down the street were certainly more convenient.
Fast forward to today, where I have learned that a little bit of advance thought and planning pay dividends in the end. Now I invest a small amount of time each week in meal planning and prepping so the groceries are on hand, the menu is set, and often the food is already ready to be enjoyed when the time is right. True, there is often some initial work to be done up front to make things easier, but in the end, many actions can be automated to take no time or effort – like automatic bill paying or savings deposits. By setting out my workout clothes and packing my bag the night before, I make the morning much more convenient and conducive to working out. I also organize all of Jon’s breakfast, lunch and snacks to take to work before going to bed so it can all be easily grabbed on the way out and enable a satisfying and healthy day for him too. Minimal effort required for a less stressful morning.
And this week is extra special because on the lunch time menu, I have already prepped (for convenience of course) my own much tastier and much healthier version of those classic chicken fingers and a Whole30 compliant “honey” mustard dressing! Baked coconut crusted chicken strips with my very own tangy dijon dipping sauce which is totally Paleo, added sugar/dairy/gluten free AND just as crave-able with none of the greasy side effects. You can eat with some oven baked sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli or throw on top of a bed of greens, using the honey mustard as a dressing. Easy to make in advance which makes it alllll the more convenient to keep your eating on track throughout the week.
- Chicken Tenders 1 lb (450 g)
- Egg 1 each
- Shredded/Desiccated Coconut .75 cup (45 g)
- Coconut Flour .66 cup (75 gram)
- Sea Salt .5 TSP
- Black Pepper .5 TSP
- Paprika .5 TSP
- PItted Dates .33 cup (60 g)
- Dijon Mustard (no sulfites or sulfates) .2 cup (50 g)
- Apple Cider Vinegar .33 cup (60 ml)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 TBSP
- Garlic Powder .5 TSP
- Onion Powder .5 TSP
- Sea Salt .5 TSP
- Black Pepper .5 TSP
- Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a small bowl whisk the egg
- In another small bowl, combine the shredded/desiccated coconut, coconut flour, salt, pepper, and paprika
- One at a time, dip the chicken tenders into the egg and shake off any excess
- Then roll the chicken in the coconut mixture to evenly coat (if you want a more heavily "breaded" option, you can repeat these two steps to make a thicker crust). Shake off any excess and place on the baking sheet
- Repeat for all chicken and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes
- After 10 minutes, flip the chicken using a spatula and bake for another 10 minutes or until cooked through
- Place the dates in a small glass bowl with enough water to just barely cover and then microwave for about 1 minute to soften them
- Drain the dates and add them along with the remaining ingredients into a blender
- Blend until the dressing is creamy and smooth. Enjoy as a dipping sauce, marinade or dressing!