Home Blog A Must-Try Recipe – and My Chubby 4th Grade Pics!

A Must-Try Recipe – and My Chubby 4th Grade Pics!

Written on April 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm, by Eric Cressey

When I was in fourth grade, I loved two things: sports and chicken fingers.

When I was about 8, I went on a 4-5 day trip to Gettysburg with my grandparents, and to this day, my grandmother jokes about how I ordered chicken fingers for every single lunch and dinner for the entire trip.  Likewise, Tuesdays at the Sea Road School cafeteria was affectionately known as “nug-nug” days for the chicken nuggets my friends and I couldn’t wait to dominate each week.

Little did we know (at the time, at least) that we were really just eating a load of “mechanically separated chicken parts,” sugar, bread crumbs, corn starch, vegetable oil, and “leavening” and “anti-foaming” additives.  In spite of my crazy activity level, it’s these stellar ingredients (and surely some of the other garbage I was eating) that were responsible for my remarkable transformation between my third and fourth grade school pictures.

Whoever said that you can’t gain “baby fat” in 4th grade never watched me crush nug-nugs.

Kidding aside (kind of), it should come as no surprise that I love to eat; at heart, I’m still a chubby kid who wants his chicken fingers.  However, I fight my inner demons and stick to the healthy stuff.  I’m proud to say that I was “chicken finger sober” for 16 years, but that streak ended on Monday night.  Fortunately, I was working off a great recipe I picked up from Dave Ruel’s Metabolic Cooking e-book, one of my favorite resources of all time.

These fingers were “to die for,” so I thought I’d reach out to Dave to see if he’d be okay with me reprinting his Metabolic "Fried" Chicken Fingers recipe for my loyal readers.  Knowing the joy that chicken fingers has brought to mankind for centuries, he kindly obliged – and here it is:


• 4 cooked chicken breasts (4oz each)
• 2 egg whites
• 1 teaspoon coconut oil
• ½ cup bran buds
• ½ cup oatmeal
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare baking sheet by coating the coconut oil. Cut chicken breasts into four equal strips (you should have 16 strips total). Set aside. Grind oatmeal and bran buds in a food processor (or blender). Next, combine all dry ingredients in a large container with a tightly fitting lid. Shake well. This is your coating mixture.

2. Add egg whites in a medium bowl. Dip each strip in the egg whites. Then dip each strip (finger) in the coating mixture. Make sure each piece is well coated.

3. Place on the baking sheet. When all of your chicken has been coated and your baking sheet is full, place in the oven and bake for 10 mins or until golden. Then turn the fingers and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes."

Here's how ours turned out (and I can assure you that they tasted even better than they looked; I was more concerned with wolfing them down than I was with tastefully presenting them for the camera):

For more awesome recipes like this, be sure to check out Metabolic Cooking, a great resource to which you'll be referring for years to come. It (as well as its sister resource, Anabolic Cooking) is on sale for just $10 through the end of the day today

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  • hahaha oh man I was the chubby kid growing up too! Great stuff, I have to dig through my picture archives.

  • Daniel

    I feel your pain…I too was a chicken finger/nugget fanatic and, not surprisingly, looked just like that in 4th grade. Even had a similar hair cut.

  • Recipe sounds great but…what are you going to dip them in?

  • R Smith

    See…. This is just further proof that there is no need to eat crap. As much as I hate cooking, I hate eating out even more. (Might have something to do with the “healthy” salad I ate two years ago only to find out it had 78 grams of carbs.)

    And, Eric, I cannot laugh at your pics. I graduated high school at 6-5, 175. Yeah…UGLY.


  • Ben

    We had a breaded chicken sandwhich day, everyone got double lunch that day.

  • I just made Dave’s crispy baked chicken nuggets the other night! Dipped them in homemade guacamole and it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in awhile.

    Now I’m gonna have to try this recipe, as now I have a huge hankerin’ for chicken fingers.


  • David K

    I can’t believe you were ever chubby! I don’t know what you were when you graduated HS but I was like “R Smith”….6′ and 130 pounds on a good day. Looked like walking death. A little bit of GOMAD and lifting heavy shiz fixed that, and some chicken fangers won’t hurt either! Thanks for the awesome recipe.

  • Great recipe! My kids know not to eat chicken fingers unless I make them. I\’ve already brainwashed them with photos of mechanically separated chicken. 😉

    I cant wait to add this to my nugget variation.


  • GUB

    What are bran buds?

  • joseph

    Does Metabolic cooking only provide recipes?
    or is there any extra stuff about eating?

  • Matt

    Bran buds and oatmeal are fine for those who can handle them, but they are less than ideal for optimal gut health.

  • Looking a little chubby there Eric, I’ve been through it myself 🙂

    Cheers for sharing the recipe

  • Jeff

    Mix up 1/2 plain yogurt, 1/4 Dijon mustard, 1/4 mayo and touch of honey got yourself some honey mustard sans corn syrup.

  • kyle

    Come on Eric, What are bran buds??? don’t leave us in suspense!

  • kyle

    Ahhh, just googled Bran buds, a Kellogg cereal for anyone who wanted to know…

  • @Joseph – Dave actually offers quite a bit of advice with respect to meal/macronutrient timing, how to keep grocery bills down, and what to do on the supplements side of things.

  • @Jeff – good stuff! Thanks for the tip.

  • Poul Hansen

    Oh man. This is going straight into the recipe folder 😀 I am cutting right now (6 pack contest with the wife) so I need any and all healthy recipes I can get my hands on.

  • R Smith

    @David K: I refuse to look at my high school pix. I’m not the biggest guy even now (I stay around 210-ish), but 175 at my height and build was not good.

    @Kyle: thx for the bran buds info.

  • AnotherEric

    OK, I just received the email with the link to download the books. I will have to admit, my mouth started watering and my stomach started twinging while I was “flipping” through the PDF files. The recipes sure do look delicious and relatively simple to put together. I guess my only complaints are the price (especially after the discount expires) and that I don’t have something I can take with me into the kitchen and follow directions from. The first is subjective and so whatever… The later is just something I guess I’ll have to find a workaround for. Maybe it’s an excuse to go by one of those fancy iPads thingees? 🙂

    Man am I hungry now. 🙁 I was about to go to bed and now I’ve riled up all this ghrelin!

  • Kristen Parker

    Eric! You were such a cutie 4th grader! My son, 14, is 6’2″, 145 pounds but just skin and bones! He LOVES chix fingers, pizza, cheeseburgers with just ketchup and my homemade mac and cheese. He is good at eating fruits, but not too many veggies. How can I get him to eat healthier to put on some weight for the upcoming ice hockey season? He needs to work out too so I am hoping Arlene can get him to do her agilities class and some lifting. Love your facebook posts!

  • BostonBarrister

    Both Dave’s eBooks on nutrition/cooking (Metabolic Cooking and Anabolic Cooking) have a ton of good recipes and other good information. I like how Metabolic Cooking has different downloads for the different recipe types (e.g., “Fish & Seafood,” & “Breakfast”). Dave is Canadian, though, so as with Berardi’s recipes I often find myself adding some spice. But they’re all super easy, and mostly very quick to prepare. Two thumbs way up.

  • Hi Kristen!

    Everything begins with a big breakfast and big post-exercise meal. Cover those two, and fill in the cracks, and he’ll be in a good spot. Tell him to come by and eat with me when I’m home; could be a good lesson!

  • Love the pics Eric! Recipe sounds good as well.

  • Tim Dolen


    It seems as though you and I had very similar experiences. I became a “husky” kid in 4th grade as well. My 4th grade photo is something my family jokes about because not only was I a chub, but I was also proudly wearing a silver necklace with a big bull’s head pendant on the outside of my shirt. I was wicked cool.
    Chicken patty sandwiches and tater tots smeared with ketchup was my school meal of choice and probably a reason why my mother had to buy me husky jeans even though I played sports and spent everyday outside with my neighborhood friends.
    During my teenage years, I started lifting weights and cutting out the junk food. My last doughnut was 19 years ago at age 15. The last time I drank soda was in 1999.

    I haven’t been fat since.

  • Steve

    So that’s what a 600 lb. plus dead lifter looks like in 4th grade!

  • rod

    Got my copy last night!!! very affordable indeed!!

  • Orlondo

    The thing I love about this community is the “LOVE.”
    Everyone is so positive and they give you and each other a lot of respect; sadly, it’s such a stark contrast from many other web-based pages where one can leave a comment. This truly is an accomplishment. Oh, and although I only eat fish nowadays, the chicken looked healthy and the recipe sounded good. Thank you. May the Lord continue to bless you.

  • Ahaha yeah … I had a big thing for chicken nuggets / strips as a kid too. I have to admit I never really grew out of it, either.

    This was my favourite recipe from the recipe book for sure.

  • Steven

    This is funny when I bought this book last year it was the first recipe that I tried and loved it still do it till this day thanks for the share Eric.

  • This is funny, when I bought this book last year it was the first recipe that I tried and loved it still do it till this day thanks for the share Eric. Everyone should get this book it is fantastic.

  • Patti

    “Nug-Nugs” -Lol!
    My mom always packed my lunches which were too healthy (complete with a side of vitamin supplements), so no one ever wanted to share 🙁 So whenever the family went out to eat, hamburgers were always my pick.
    Thank for sharing this recipe. My experiment with coconut flour in lieu of the bran buds, as that’s what’s available in the pantry.

  • Donna

    What a great post. The best thing about it is: “…at heart, I’m still a chubby kid who wants his chicken fingers. However, I fight my inner demons and stick to the healthy stuff.”

    I don’t think you can say this too often — just because a person is a fitness, health or performance professional, doesn’t mean that they are born with some Star Trek-style shield that protects against bad food urges.

    So much easier to encourage clients to take responsibility for their choices when they know that our fitness leaders are doing just that — and offering great recipes to boot! Thanks as always for doing such a great job.

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