Stuffed Chicken Parmesan Strips with 5-Minute Marinara Dipping Sauce

Serves 4. Recipe is excerpted from “Half the Sugar, All the Love” by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH. ”Using uniformly sized chicken breast tenders (the hanging strip of meat located on the underside of each chicken breast) and string cheese reduces the prep work in putting together this kid-friendly meal. Look for chicken tenders in the grocery store meat department, or ask your butcher for them. Ground flaxseed takes the place of all-purpose flour for an extra boost of nutrition. A quick pan-fry coupled with a few minutes of baking ensures that the breading is browned and crisp, the chicken is cooked through, and the cheese is melted to perfection.”

Nonstick cooking spray

⅓ cup ground flaxseed

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

2 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese, unwrapped

8 chicken breast tenders (2 ounces each)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5-Minute Marinara Dipping Sauce, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together the flaxseed and salt in a shallow bowl or pie plate. In another bowl or pie plate, whisk together the panko and Parmesan. In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.

3. Cut each string cheese stick in half crosswise and then again in half lengthwise to yield a total of 8 pieces. Set aside.

4. Insert a paring knife through the middle of one end of a chicken tender. Gently cut a pocket through the length of the tender, leaving both sides and the other end of the tender intact. Repeat with the remaining chicken tenders. Insert one piece of string cheese into each pocket.

5. Working with one stuffed chicken tender at a time, dredge the chicken in the flaxseed mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip the chicken into the egg wash, allowing any excess to drip off, then coat with the panko mixture, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with the remaining tenders.

6. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Arrange the tenders in the skillet in a single layer and cook until golden brown and crisp on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip the tenders over, moving the pieces around if necessary, and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes.

7. Transfer the tenders to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

8. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Quick tip: Depending on the size of the chicken tenders, it may be a little tricky to tuck the cheese inside. You can slice the cheese in half again to make it easier.

Nutrition information per serving (2 pieces with ¼ cup sauce): 516 calories; ¼ teaspoon or 1g added sugar; 25g carbohydrates; 708g sodium; saturated fat, 11% of calories or 6g saturated fat; 5g fiber; 41g protein.

5-Minute Marinara Dipping Sauce

Makes 1¾ cups. ”Homemade marinara sauce typically requires at least half an hour of simmering, while prepared versions can contain a fair amount of added sugar. This speedy version takes less than 5 minutes to make — about the same amount of time required to heat up a jar of store-bought sauce. It makes just the right amount to pair with our Stuffed Chicken Parmesan Strips.”

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.

2. Add the tomato sauce, oregano and salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Make ahead: The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Nutrition information per serving (¼ cup): 34 calories; 0 teaspoons or 0g added sugar; 4g carbohydrates; 90mg sodium; 8% of calories or ˂1g saturated fat; 1g fiber; 1g protein.