Making dinner, memories, & the first chicken tenders since I quit gluten!

I love cooking alone, and I used to thoroughly enjoy the breaded and fried things a la KFC

but now these are both things of my past! Living with my partner (and fiancé, Doug) has changed the dynamic of my kitchen. We not only share the space in the fridge, and the food in the cupboards, we are sharing the joy and responsibility of cooking meals. Dinner is often split thusly: he does the protein, and I make sure veggies are somewhere to be found, whether they are in the form of a salad (with home made dressing) or roasted in the oven.

Keto Chicken Tenders from    Diane Sanfilippo’s new book      Keto Quick Start

Keto Chicken Tenders from Diane Sanfilippo’s new book Keto Quick Start


Yesterday, we worked together on his usual task to make Keto Chicken Tenders from Diane Sanfilippo’s new book Keto Quick Start which I am loving. You’re wondering whether I mean the book or the recipe? Honestly, I have to say … BOTH!

This cookbook is more than just recipes, it is also a textbook to teach you all the in’s and out’s of Keto. Not simply what foods to eat and to avoid, but why it is important to do so, how it will affect you when you start to change the way you eat, and how you can expect to feel and for how long. I kid you not, the first half (165 pages!!!) is filled with tips, guides, and explanations.

I don’t know about you, but when I decide to try a new way of eating, I need to know all the things before I start.
If you’re nodding your head on the other side of the screen, this cookbook & guide is for you.

I think I’m getting too excited. And side-tracked! I’m here to share this delicious Chicken Tender recipe with you! First, I want you to know, I have never made ANYTHING like this before. I’ve shied away from egg-dipped and crusted foods since … well, perhaps living at home in high school. Honestly, I used to get very squeamish around uncooked (…raw) meat, and I am perhaps a little concerned about the possibility of contracting a bacterium from raw eggs. (I’m sure if you ask Doug, or my sister, they’ll roll his eyes and confirm this by telling you of the many times I wash my hands when working with any of the above items). So, this was going out on a limb for me, but that was ok because…

I really wanted to have chicken tenders!

I have to be honest, when I was a kid (and maybe a couple times right after I got my first “real” corporate job and was making a little money), I loved the McDonalds chicken nuggets dipped in honey mustard. {BLUSHING HARD - don’t look at me! This is so embarrassing!} I know, I know! You can’t believe this is true. I’ve always eaten so healthy. That’s SO FAR from the truth, however it is true I’ve been on a much healthier track for the last 10-12 years or so. But I digress. After reading through Diane’s book, I knew I needed to give these Keto Chicken Tenders a shot for my inner six-year-old.

Doug in charge of browing the chicken.

Doug in charge of browing the chicken.

They look so yummy!

They look so yummy!

Me dipping & coating the chicken in the coconut batter.

Me dipping & coating the chicken in the coconut batter.

So we got to work! The chicken tenders are dipped in egg, then coated with a mixture of coconut flakes, coconut flour, and spices. These are then fried in batches in a small amount of quality cooking oil which covers the bottom of the pan for a few minutes on each side (we chose coconut oil to keep with the theme. Also, coconut oil has high heat stability). I was in charge of dipping and coating the chicken, while Doug browned the crust in the pan.

The next step was to finish cooking in the oven for 15 at 375˚F or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165˚F. With our handy timer, we simply had to wait for the … BEEP!

While the chicken was finishing, we washed the dishes, and got out the mustard for dipping sauce. Since this is a Keto recipe, we used plain mustard (no honey to appease that inner child) for dipping.
This was fine.

More than fine. The tenders were delicious with plain mustard.

The chicken is dipped in a coconut “breading”, and the crust is delightfully sweet in flavor due to this lovely topping. This was perhaps enhanced by the use of coconut oil, as well. And they were SO GOOD. I can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow… {slurp} I think it’s time to make dinner, now, so here is the recipe for your enjoyment!!!


Keto Chicken Tenders

(from Diane Sanfilippo’s Keto Quick Start Cookbook


  • Preheat oven to 375˚F and prepare a baking sheet with wire rack on top

  • Place a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Use just enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan, and allow it to melt and become hot (but not smoking!). While fat is heating up, bread the chicken.

  • Create a station for the chicken: In a large, shallow bowl or dish, whisk the eggs until well beaten. In a second large shallow bowl or dish, whisk the coconut, coconut flour, and spices until well combined.

  • Dip a piece of chicken in the egg to coat completely, allow the excess to drip off, then dredge the chicken in the flour mixture to coat completely. Shake gently to remove excess. Repeat this process for all the chicken tenders.

  • Working in batches (as they fit in the pan) place the chicken tenders in the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes each side, until the breading is golden brown. Add more cooking fat the pan as needed. Transfer browned tenders to the wire rack on the baking sheet and space evenly.

  • Once all the chicken is browned, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165˚F. Serve with mustard on the side.


  • 1/4 cup cooking fat of choice (we used coconut)

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

  • 2 Tbsp. coconut flour

  • 1 Tbsp. Trifecta Spice Blend (Diane’s Balanced Bites Spice blend)

  • 2 tsp. paprika

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders*

  • prepared yellow mustard, for serving (and dipping!)

NOTE: If you are avoiding nightshades, omit the paprika.

* We used chicken breasts and cut to size (roughly 1 by 4-inch strips) instead of chicken tenders. This was a little more work, but a couple dollars less per pound for organic chicken!


Doug and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Also, Diane’s book is available for pre-order NOW, and comes out January 1st, 2019! Click here to order your copy! (also, if you’re not following @dianesanfilippo on Instagram, I suggest you begin today for more great recipes and tips. Also, there are giveaways happening for the Keto Quick Start!)

Let me know what you loved about this recipe in the comments below!

Much love!

Alaina (& Doug!)

fabulous breakfast bread and how to make it (gluten - free!)

Many of you have been asking about this bread for quite some time, and I really want to share the recipe with you…
but I have to be honest …
This recipe is … well, somewhat improvised. EVERY. TIME.

I grew up eating baked goods. There was always bread for sandwiches (my parents even had one of those bread maker machines for a while), rolls with dinner, holiday quick-breads, sticky-buns and cinnamon rolls as treats, and let’s not forget all the chocolate chip cookies and brownies (and breakfast German pancakes which I now make with this gluten-free recipe). I think my favorite thing as I’ve grown into an adult was the smell of something baking in the oven, and the warmth of the oven heating the house (or the tiny 1900 era freezing apartment I lived in throughout my corporate career years). I find myself now in a place where I can say I am, somewhat, a “seasoned baker.” I know what I enjoy adding to my quick-breads, and understand what the batter should look like when complete and ready to bake.

And to be perfectly honest, I enjoy experimenting!
There’s something to be said for opening up the cupboards to see what you have to work with and improvising after you’ve decided on your basics. We have a persimmon tree at our house which produces plenty fruit … for a few households. We’re looking forward to many persimmon-based breads (rather than banana) in the future!

banana quick-bread.jpg

Why I call it “Breakfast Bread”:

This bread is what I now consider my “classic” quick-bread.
Yes, it uses fruit, eggs, butter, dense (protein-rich) flour, some added nuts, but there is

SO, obviously, this means you can eat it for breakfast! Right?

Are you ready to go on a baking adventure with me?

Trust me, you can do this, too!

This fun stuff comes later…

Here are the Basic Ingredients (these I do not change):

  • 3 medium size bananas (or add equivalent zucchini for up to 2 bananas - you will want at least 1 banana for sweetness)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 stick (1/2 Cup) salted butter (melted) And yes, I always use salted butter. I like it better. You are welcome to use unsalted if you wish.

And that’s the beginning! So here’s how you pull these together:

  • Mash the bananas in a large bowl until kinda liquidy

  • Add two eggs and mix well

  • Pour in the melted butter while stirring (you don’t want your butter to be too hot because it may start cooking the eggs! I usually let mine cool a little before adding to the batter).


Next, we get to play with ingredients.

I love to add (unsweetened) coconut. I am not sure why (ha!), but I love this delicious nut-meat; the way it gets toasty where it sticks out of the bread is such a pleasant taste and aesthetic, this is the first add-in for my bread (or muffins) every time. As for quantity? I go with my gut. It’s not an essential ingredient, but I like it to take up some space. Good added fat with these little white flakes.

Topping the bread or muffins with coconut just before they go into the oven is a nice finishing touch!

Next, I add chia seeds. Why chia, you ask?

These little seeds absorb a ton of moisture. And they’re good for you! They are highly complex food which offer a ton of energy and health benefits such as omega-3’s, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, a decent helping of good fats, and vitamins and minerals. They’re easily digestible, and perfect for breakfast. Again, no specific measurement, but enough to darken the batter a bit (start small - if you add too many chia seeds, your batter may become VERY thick. Try a tablespoon or so and add as you gain experience and become used to your batter texture).

All mixed together!

When the ingredients are all mixed together, your batter will look golden with pretty evenly spaced white and black spots (of coconut and chia).

Bananas, eggs, and butter do not make a very thick base, so next, we add the thickeners.


I am a HUGE Fan of Oats (and gluten-free Oat flour, as you may have learned from my other gluten free recipes) - lots of fiber and protein from these flakes of goodness and they sure do add some heft to keep you feeling full after that one muffin you grab as you run out the door to start your day.

I add enough oats to, again, absorb more moisture and a little tapioca flour to lighten the texture of the batter just a little.

Last flour ingredient is the oat flour itself. The batter should feel almost complete - like any banana bread you’ve made before.

The last steps:

  • Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and ginger (as you please)

  • Salt (dash)

  • The chemical reaction necessities: 1 Tbsp. Bragg Organic Vinegar and 1 tsp. Baking Soda


The last time I made muffins, I added apple, pecans, and candied ginger (the only bit with real sugar added… and honestly, candied ginger goes into every loaf or muffin. It’s that good). Once you add the last ingredients, stir till combined, and bake in either your muffin tins or bread pan at 350 degrees until done. Muffins take about 25 minutes, and bread will take longer, 45-60 minutes depending on how much moisture is in your batter. (The apples make the baking time quite a bit longer).


Top with oats or coconut or pecans (or walnuts if that is your preference) and enjoy with yogurt or simply butter a slice and enjoy with your morning coffee or tea.

This has become a weekly staple in my home, and I hope you enjoy creating your own special breakfast loaf as much as I have over the last couple years.


Much love!


Hi, I’m Alaina. I’ve been working on shifting and creating a life I love for the last ten years. This is where I share the stories that brought me to   today   .

Hi, I’m Alaina. I’ve been working on shifting and creating a life I love for the last ten years. This is where I share the stories that brought me to today.

freedom, forgiveness, & the wild search for edible fungus

Two weeks ago, I was starting to feel in command of my life.

Each end of day, I would plan the points of interest and to-do’s for the next day in my new-found freedom. What am I talking about, you wonder? For the last three months, I have been living life job-free, and honestly, really struggling with this new position. I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. For the last 22 years of my life, I have been at the very least, part-time employed. The importance of being a productive member of society is a value that was ingrained in my psyche as a child.

I landed my first job when I was a freshman in high school. Working for a wedding photographer on the weekends became a semi-regular event every-other weekend (the other weekend was spent at my Dad’s house), and eventually, I took on part-time work at my high school theater. Having spending money was fantastic, and I felt like I was doing what I could to do my part to … well, bring myself up into adulthood, and a contributing member of the family. Taking care of myself (for myself) became a very important task to meet the expectations I thought were upon me (whoa… more on that later, too). During college, I was an RA for two years, worked part-time at the on-campus bookstore, and was all but hell-bent on finding my career once I was out. Six months after my graduation date, I found my way into the job that led to my 11 year corporate career.

Now I find myself in a place of opportunity and freedom, and find myself fighting to allow flow (rather than expectations of “productivity”) to take me from day to day. So, on that Thursday, two weeks ago, when my love called and said “want to go to the coast and go mushroom picking with me? I’m done early!” my first reaction was, shockingly, “No!” I had made plans for myself for perhaps the third day in a row that week, and felt I was on a productive streak. I didn’t want to lose the momentum. But, deep down, I knew this was the wrong time to say ‘no’ so I took a deep breath, talked about why I felt the way I did, and conceded. “Of course, I’d love to go with you. What does this trip entail?”

He explained to me I would love the place we were going, and I am happy to report, I did find it extremely rewarding.

I was met with unexpected beauty…


The forest was slightly damp and mist closed around the trees, but we were protected in the deep green, mossy alcoves, and even remained dry within clearings, by the high canopy of evergreen branches above. We hiked through grand, open spaces with soft footing and lanky tree trunks, and ducked under heavy bushes with lacy spider-webs. We went so far uphill that, overdressed as I was, I started to overheat. Willing myself to cool down, my man offered me the option to stop and wait for him, and that he would be back in ten to fifteen minutes.

Unfortunately, we had moments before stepped over a large pile of bear scat, and there was NO way I was sitting alone in the forest where bears are concurrently hunting for huckleberries!

Heck NO. I’m coming with you!

So, I found myself scrambling and closely watching the carpet of moss for any available reason to stop (aka. mushroom sightings) and whenever an orange speck caught my eye, I paused to investigate.

I am happy to report, we had a successful adventure and returned with a small reward for our efforts in our cache.


these were not the mushrooms we were hunting
(hedgehogs and chanterelles)

but they sure are gorgeous!

(somehow I forgot to take pictures of the bright, orange mushrooms we were seeking!)



This man is showing me a new way to live.

In my overly-adrenaline (and caffeine) fueled previous life in a corporate career, productivity and “getting sh*t done” outside of the office were the foundation of what made me a good person. Now, I am encouraged to slow down, feel into what resonates for me, and follow my heart when I choose projects or focus my attention on different tasks.

I really want to share more of my transition story with you (left my job, fell in love, and moved to a new town!), but haven't yet been able to put it into words. Now that summer is over, and life is settling into the quiet rhythm of hibernation and winter, a message is forming. More to come soon.

I think we all need a little more peace and forgiveness for ourselves to be patient during this time of growth.
Have your expectations for yourself morphed during this turbulent time on Earth?

What changes have you experienced this year?

I’d love to hear from you about your experience. Let me know in the comments below!

Much love,

Hi, I’m Alaina. I’ve been working on shifting and creating a life I love for the last ten years. This is where I share the stories that brought me to   today   .

Hi, I’m Alaina. I’ve been working on shifting and creating a life I love for the last ten years. This is where I share the stories that brought me to today.