March 13, 2012

Low-Sodium Nuggets for Nick Cannon

In case you missed it, there was big news in the lupus and kidney world last week.

Nick Cannon, star of such films as Drumline (which I’ve watched three times in one night — thank you TBS), the host of America’s Got Talent, and hubby to Mariah Carey announced that his recent kidney troubles are due to a form of lupus that attacks the kidneys, called lupus nephritis.

Sound familiar?

What’s thrilling for the lupus and kidney disease communities is that Nick is so open about his diagnosis, helping raise major awareness about both conditions. But what is equally exciting and so completely impressive is how quickly and fervently Nick decided to own his diagnosis. To become an advocate. And to be proactive in his healthcare.

Major applause and gentle pats on the back to him for being such a self-less role model during such a life-altering time.

To show my appreciation, as well as perhaps lend a hand in his road to recovery, I thought I’d help by making him chicken nuggets.


Nick says he is ready to do whatever it takes to stay healthy. Which most likely means taking on a low-potassium and low-sodium diet. But on Good Morning America, he seemed quite bummed that he’d have to skip the Happy Meals. And turns out, he’s going to miss them. Terribly.

But Nick, if you’re reading and ready to get eating, here’s one thing about a kidney or heart or anything-friendly diet. Just because you remove the salt (or potassium) doesn’t mean you have to lose the foods you love. You may have to skip the McDonald’s drive through–and if you’ve read about how they actually make those nuggets, this is not such a bad thing. You may have to get in your kitchen. You may have to make them yourself with fun substitutions. And you may have to eat them all when you’re done.

So today, I want to give you two recipes: Baked Chicken Cornflake Nuggets and Baked Polenta Fries. Both of which I am super excited about. Because both have all the savory, crunchiness you expect.

Just a few notes about the low-sodium swaps that occurred in my kitchen. To make sure the chicken breasts were super juicy, I took inspiration from traditional buttermilk brines. But instead of the buttermilk, I used low-sodium Greek Yogurt mixed with lemon juice and MAN did it do the trick. I even tested it with non-marinated meat, and that faux buttermilk soak really makes the chicken moist. So if you have the time, try it.

As for the polenta fries, let me explain. I skipped the potatoes because they are high in potassium. Of course, if you don’t have to watch your potassium, go ahead and bake some spuds. But if you need a substitution–or want to try something totally awesome–these polenta fries are super easy, very healthy, and actually look like the real thing. I think this is my new go-to for impressive appetizers.

So skip the drive through and the fryer and get to baking these two scrumptious meals. With all the taste and crunch you want and no salt.

Now doesn’t that make you happy?

Chow on. I did.


Here’s my list of pre-made, low-sodium condiments that I love to use and do a great job mimicking McDonald’s famous dippers…

Honey Mustard: Mendocino Hot and Sweet (0mg sodium)

Sweet and Sour: Ginger People Sweet Ginger Sauce (5mg of sodium per 2 tbsp)

BBQ Sauce: Earth and Vine Red Bell Pepper and Ancho Chili Jam (0mg sodium) or Robert Rothschild Farm Hot Pepper Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (0mg sodium)


based on Jamie Oliver’s Baked Chicken Nugget Recipe


  • 1 1/2 pounds air-chilled chicken breast, cut into nugget shapes or strips
  • 1, 6-oz container low-sodium FAGE Greek yogurt (60-70mg sodium per container)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (optional for Gluten-free versions, just skip this step)
  • 1 cup crushed wheat 365 Brand cornflakes (0mg sodium)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried celery seed (NOT celery salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil spray

In a plastic container, mix the chicken with yogurt and lemon. Use your hands to rub all the ingredients together so that the chicken is completely covered in the yogurt, lemon marinade (i.e. a faux buttermilk brine). Then cover the container and place it in the fridge overnight (or at least for four hours).

When you’re ready to get baking, preheat oven to 400dg F.

Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. While it warms up, prep your breading station. In three separate bowls place the following: Bowl 1 – flour; Bowl 2 – egg, whisked; Bowl 3 – crushed cornflake breadcrumbs mixed well with spices, dill to black pepper.

Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet (or if you don’t have one, just cover baking sheet with parchment paper). Then start breading your chicken by dipping each strip or nugget into the flour, then dredging it in the egg, and finally rolling it in the cornflake crumbs.

Place the strip or nugget on the cooling rack and continue with the others until all are breaded. Give it a quick spray of oil and place it into the oven until brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with Polenta Fries and suggested condiments.

+ Sodium Count: Chicken breast (with skin): 71mg per [1/4] pound; Plain Greek yogurt: 60mg per 6-ounce container, depending on brand; Eggs: 71mg per large egg



  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow polenta
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
  • Olive oil spray

In a medium pot, bring water to a gentle boil and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring as you go. Add the dried dill and the salt-free garlic powder and continue stirring over medium-low heat until polenta is thick and pretty dry, about 15 minutes.

Allow the polenta to cool for 10 minutes and then spread to b 1/2 inch thick onto a lightly greased baking pan. Or, if you have a small tart pan, that works wonderfully as well. Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450dg F

When cooled, cut your polenta into fry shapes. You can make skinny fries or thick steak fries, whatever your pleasure. Then place the fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Rub each fry with a little olive oil (you can use your fingers or a fancy shmancy pastry brush).

Place them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for a second 10 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Cindy Olsen March 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

This looks AMAZING! Can’t wait to try 🙂 Xoxoxo

Kelly March 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

Those chicken nuggets look incredible. I am definitely going to give them a try!!

Stins March 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Those look gorgeous – plus who needs potatoes when you can have polenta? Lucky Nick Cannon for having both Mariah Carey and Sodium Girl on his side.

Marcia March 15, 2012 at 5:40 am

I’ve never heard of air chilled chicken breast?

jessg23 March 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

Air chilled chicken is another way poultry is processed — WITHOUT adding salted brine or plumping solutions. So when buying birds, its best to not only look at labels but ask for air chilled to ensure yours is not filled with salted, sodium’d water or other solutions.

Lela March 15, 2012 at 8:07 am

Just reading , I can taste them. Yummy

Alisa March 16, 2012 at 12:40 am

Love that tip on using yogurt for marinating the meat. I’ll make this tonight and make this with my son tomorrow 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this!

Chefjen April 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

Making me hungry!!!!

Barbara J. Thommen December 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

Enjoyed your blog. Can’t wait to try the polenta fries.

Cathy Tarr January 10, 2013 at 11:54 am

I am really glad to have found your site. I’ve been doing the no sodium thing for about 35 years and it is a lot easier now than it was then. I always wanted to do the buttermilk soak and was never bright enough to figure out the Greek Yogurt . Great discovery! Thanks for sharing. I have found a few great sources for low sodium cheese, mustard etc if you are ever interested. I do not have to watch my potassium. My kidney disease is dumping potassium and I have to take potassium pills. Keep up the great work. Thanks so much!

jennifer August 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I have recently found your site and think it is a great resource for people who not only have to watch their sodium but those who are just looking for different and new recipes. Do you have any resources for low sodium cheeses. I have found a deli style swiss but my favorite is munster and cheddar. Thanks so much.

jessg23 August 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

Sargento makes a very low-sodium swiss!

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