Recipe: Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders & BBQ Sauce

by JJ Virgin on August 10, 2016

Headed for the drive-thru? Back it on up!

How about we make a family favorite at home instead?

Our love affair with chicken tenders usually starts when we’re young. But this healthy version tastes great at any age –and without all the gluten, corn, or inflammatory fats of traditional fried chicken fingers!

Dip them in low-sugar impact BBQ sauce, and you’ve got the perfect mix of savory and sweet. Whether you’re gathered around the dinner table or headed out for an afternoon picnic, this recipe is sure to please. (Just be sure you choose organic, free-range chicken…)

You can pair your yummy chicken tenders and BBQ sauce with other healthy twists on picnic favorites like seasoned Kale Chips with Cumin and Sea Salt, yummy Spiced Sweet Potato Fries, and naturally sweet Berries with Cacao-Nut Butter Spread. It’s all the goodness and nutrition you need!

Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders


August 10, 2016

Who needs fast food? You're going to love this quick, healthy version of kid-friendly fried chicken tenders with BBQ dipping sauce. All the flavor, half the calories, and none of the gluten!

Virgin Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3
Sugar Impact Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3

  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yields: 4 servings


24 oz. organic chicken breast tenders

2-4 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

3-4 tbsp organic coconut oil or olive oil


1Put the chicken tenders in a bowl and add the mustard, then toss to coat.

2In a plastic bag, combine the flour, cumin, cayenne, and salt.

3Add half the chicken tenders, shake until all are coated, and remove from the flour mixture. Repeat with the second half of the tenders.

4Place half of the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add half the tenders. (Don't crowd the pan, or your tenders will be soggy instead of crispy.)

5Cook on all sides until tenders are golden brown and chicken is cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.

6Add more oil as needed, then cook the second batch. Serve with All-Purpose Finger-Lickin' BBQ Sauce on the side. (recipe below)

To switch up the flavor of your tenders, try adding 1/2 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder to your seasoning mix or substituting Italian seasoning or curry powder for the cayenne and cumin.

This recipe is part of the Star-Gazing Party menu, with Taj's Chicken Tenders & BBQ Sauce, Kale Chips with Cumin and Sea Salt, Spiced Sweet Potato Fries, and Berries with Cacao-Nut Butter Spread. Check out the Star-Gazing Party Menu and Guide for links to all the recipes, plus more handy tips and activities for a wonderful picnic dinner under the stars!

Originally published in The Virgin Diet Cookbook, Grand Central Life & Style, 2014

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All-Purpose Finger-Lickin'-Good BBQ Sauce


August 10, 2016

Smoked paprika lends a distinctive smoky flavor to this scrumptious BBQ sauce. And unlike store-bought BBQ sauce, you’re getting juicy flavor without all the extra sugar and chemical additives… Pairs well with BBQ Spice Rub.

Virgin Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3
Sugar Impact Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3

  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yields: 3 cups


28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes and their juice

1/2 cup cider vinegar

3 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp monk fruit extract

2 tsp coconut aminos

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground allspice

3/4 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp ground black pepper


1Combine the tomatoes, vinegar, chili powder, paprika, monk fruit extract, coconut aminos, cumin, garlic powder, and allspice in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, 20 to 22 minutes, 20

3Remove from the heat and season with the salt and pepper.

4Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze.

This recipe is part of the Backyard BBQ menu, with BBQ Glazed Chicken, Tex-Mex Burgers with Avocado Salsa, Cucumber & Radish Salad, and Blueberry Sorbet. Check out the Backyard BBQ Menu and Guide for links to all the recipes, plus more handy tips and activities for the best backyard BBQ ever!

Originally published in The Virgin Diet Cookbook, Grand Central Life & Style, 2014

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Nutrition Facts

Serving Size3 tablespoons
Sodium273 mg
Protein1 gram
Total Fat0 gram
Saturated Fat0 gram
Total Carbohydrates6 grams
Dietary Fiber1 gram

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