Getting kids to eat their veggies is not always easy. I don’t have kids, or even claim to know much about them, but this is something I hear about all the time. When I’m out offering people samples, it’s not unusual for parents to take a look at the food and say, “my kid wouldn’t eat that” or “Johnny hates squash”.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that.
I think that parents are often the ones who don’t like the foods, don’t make them, and aren’t willing to give them a chance because they simply believe their kids wouldn’t eat them either. If we want kids to eat smarter, than it’s up to us adults to first change our own attitudes. And that can start with cooking and some creativity. We can involve kids in the kitchen and be open to trying new foods.
Sunday I did just that. I worked with a girl scout troop to make squash and bean burgers. I wanted to do something hands on, colorful, and just a little different. I don’t believe kids should eat boring, bland foods. I certainly don’t like them. Why would they?
It was fun because the girls got to mash up all of their burger ingredients. In went the cooked squash, black beans, quinoa, bread crumbs, onions and garlic.
The breadcrumbs, quinoa, nuts and seeds act as the binder that keeps everything together, while adding extra fiber and protein. Make your own breadcrumbs by grinding stale bread in the food processor, if you have it. And experiment with the seeds and nuts of your choice. The first time i made these I used the squash seeds, but didn’t prefer such a chewy texture in the end. I like the crunch of sunflower seeds better and used those the second time around.
The spices are typical Mexican flavors you’d find in something like tacos – spices you probably already have in your pantry. But these aren’t spicy. Many basic chili powders, are in fact, sweet. A little cayenne powder, or chopped pepper could up the heat for you though.
There are a few ingredients to work with here and maybe it’s more than you’d prefer. But a little planning brings it all together with little extra effort. Roast the squash, cook the quinoa and soak the beans a few days ahead of time, at your convenience. None of these require much attention. Why not prepare some extra while you’re at it?
Cooked squash, grains and beans are good in so many dishes. Having them ready to go at any time makes for quick cooking at any time of day. Or maybe you have leftovers of some or all of these items in your fridge already. Any kind of grain, squash or bean could work in these burgers, so put those leftovers to another use!
After all the mashing, the girls formed their own patties. I let them feel invested in the process and I think because of this they were open to trying the burgers, even though they all said they had never had them before.
Why not try: Making a batch (or two) of these burgers, wrapping them individually and having ready to go in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner any time during the week. Or freeze them to last even longer.
Roast the squash (step 1) in advance and you’ll have burgers ready to go in no time.
- 4 cups winter squash, cut into large pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed, if not using dried beans)
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup red onion, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 cup nuts, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
- olive oil
- Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil, bake on a sheet in an oven preheated to 425F. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes. (Optional: If you’d like to use the squash seeds in the burgers, rinse and clean them then fry in a pan over medium heat with two tablespoons oil until browned. Alternatively, you could use sunflower seeds.)
- When cool, peel off the squash skin, cut into pieces and mash in a bowl with the beans. Fold in quinoa, chili powder, cumin, coriander, seeds, nuts and salt.
- Lightly sweat the onion – until it breaks down and begins to turn translucent – and garlic in a small pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Fold into the squash mixture with the bread crumbs.
- Using your hands, shape into patties.
- Add oil to a skillet, heat to medium and fry burgers until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side.