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Black Bean and Quinoa....Burger?

For picky, I mean, moody eaters, especially!

Makes 4 adult burgers and 3 baby burgers:) (or 6 adult burgers)

It finally happened. What parents everywhere told me would happen. My baby girl who ate EVERYTHING suddenly only wanted bread. Oh, what a slippery slope that bread, pasta, pita, naan route is. It happened a few days before we left the USA and it got worse when we arrived. My daughter’s addiction also involved copious amounts of olives (all kinds), feta once in a while, and raisins. Still, getting her to eat variety (bye, bye balanced meals) was impossible. And like any new mom, I enabled her.

Worried sick that she isn’t eating well, or enough, (what’s that about percentiles?) results in me enabling her “pickiness”. Please, just eat something, anything! As if all calories are equal. I’m a health-supportive chef, I know this! But, I’m also a new mom and reason isn’t always the first thing that comes to the rescue when worry sets in.

Yet, logic did follow. She wouldn’t starve. She kept eating those (usually refined) foods because I had made them available to her. And she knew that! And so the experimenting began…again.

First- eliminate those bread-y foods she’s addicted to. She’ll get hungry and she’ll eat, (eventually), what IS available.

Second- go back to basics. For us this meant going back to foods she used to love and again, because she’s older now, tweaking seasoning, textures, cuts, and believe it or not, presentation.

Third- be persistent and consistent. If she doesn’t want to eat something, try again another time, try another form (in soup, as finger food, puree???), but keep trying.

I’ve been surprised with the outcome. Claire IS an adventurous eater and she will try most things. She eats well on most days. On others she can’t be bothered as much. It’s led me to wonder about these terms we’re so quick to label our kids with; picky, fussy eaters. I’m reluctant to call Claire picky yet. I think she’s still working on developing her tastebuds and like all people, sometimes she’s in the mood for (fill in the blank) and sometimes she isn’t. Can’t blame her for that! But I know that if I want her to develop healthy eating habits and become an adult who eats vegetables as well as a varied diet, then I have to give her those foods now. If I want her to grow up loving and enjoying food, from sourcing it to cooking to eating, then we have to do those things now, together, as a family.

The experiment continues!

Now, let’s get to this burger. It has quickly become a household favorite. As an ex-vegetarian, I find I’m always trying to find the next amazing veggie burger because so many fall flat. (Boca Burgers are gravely insulting to vegetarians!) They also work great for Claire because she can pick up each delicious, nutrient dense bite with her little fingers. I opted for quinoa, in an effort to avoid using wheat products (flour, breadcrumbs) where I don’t really have to, because she’ll inevitably end up eating it elsewhere, so minimizing her exposure (and increasing diversity) is in our best interest. If black beans and quinoa have not made a home in your pantry yet, what are you waiting for?

Happy cooking! Happy Eating!

You’ll need:

1 C dried black beans, soaked

1 1″ piece of kombu

1 bay leaf

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground coriander

1/2 C cooked quinoa

1/2 C walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 C finely shredded carrots (1 medium sized carrot should suffice)

1 small red onion, chopped

1/4 C parsley, finely chopped

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make:

1. Cook off the beans. Drain and rinse and add beans to a soup pot with enough water to cover. Add kombu and bay leaf and let boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Skim the foam off as often as needed. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to medium, add cumin, coriander and a nice, solid pinch of sea salt. Partially cover and cook for 50 minutes or until beans are very tender. When done, drain (reserve some liquid, just in case) and mash with a potato masher.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the beans and mix well. (Optional: You could refrigerate the mixture at this point to let is set and get firm before making patties, but it’s not necessary.) Form 6 even patties.

3. Heat 1/2T of oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook burger about 5 minutes on first side or until golden brown, then flip burger and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

4. Serve on a roll or pita (when in Rome, right!) and top with your favorite burger toppings. I also like to serve it over an arugula salad with avocado. YUM!

5. Enjoy!

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