Friday, June 08, 2007

Vegetarian Burgers for Babies and Toddlers (and Moms and Dads and Grandmas and Uncles and...)

Like most vegetarian parents I know, we have striven, since BabyG started eating food other than breast milk, to ensure she’s getting all the iron, fat, and nutrients she needs. I’ve read about many tricks other vegetarian parents have used to ensure their children get the right nutrients on a lot of other websites, but one idea that has worked the best for us and that I haven’t seen written up very often, is making bean burgers.

I began making my own burgers when I realized that BabyG, who turned her nose up at anything that came on a spoon, would greedily eat Quorn, tofu, or bean burgers. Since buying these foods is expensive, I’ve learned how to whip up a batch of veggie burgers for BabyG over the last few months. It’s very easy. It’s satisfying because after you get the basic idea of what you need in order to make a burger stick together, you can mix and match protein, fat, vegetable, and grain sources to ensure your baby is getting a good variety of foods in her diet, over time.

Here’s the recipe I have made most frequently. I like it because the burgers are a pretty, pale orange and the cranberries are noticeable and exciting:

Cranberry Spotted Veggie (but not vegan) Burger
(vegans can use standard substitutions for eggs, cheese…)

1 cup white beans, dried (2 1/2 cups cooked)
2 T. Braggs amino acids or soy sauce or tamari
¾ c. marinara or ketchup
1 cup of shredded cheese (to bind burgers & add protein)
2 eggs (to bind burgers & add protein)
2 carrots, shredded
1 c. celery
1 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
2 T. Herbs de Provence
Mix of cooked rice, amaryth, or millet; uncooked oats; or breadcrumbs if you’re out of all the rest. I add this until the mixture has a thick enough consistency to make into patties.

Cook the beans in 3 cups of water, in a pressure cooker, eight minutes. Mash the beans, then add everything but the grains and mix well. Finally, begin adding grains until your batter has a thick enough consistency that you can form them into balls, flatten them with your hands, and put them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes on each side. If I want to take them to a barbeque, I still bake them long enough for them to be sturdy enough to sit on the grill (about eight minutes per side). People love them.

With that recipe out of the way, I want to say again that the glorious thing about veggie/bean burgers is that you can use anything in your cupboard, usually. You can use vegetables with high amounts of certain vitamins, or iron if you choose. If your baby isn't getting enough iron and hates iron drops, you can add some. Varying the recipe is a snap. Moreover, they are an ever expansive food that you can pack in a baby or toddler’s lunch, and have them munch on all day. You can put them on your sandwiches. You can barbeque them at home or take them to a barbeque. And one batch is usually enough to last our family and a couple friends about a week. They are a wonderful food.

Here’s the more general guide I follow when experimenting. You need: protein bulk, something to make the beans stick together, vegetables, nuts (good fats and protein), spices, and grains.

Bulk: 1 pack of tofu or 1 c. dried beans or 2 ½ cups cooked/canned beans
Fat: 1 cup of chopped nuts (if your baby is old enough/not allergic, of course)
Veggies: 1 to 2 cups. Whatever you want. If they are veggies that emit water, grill them; veggies like spinach or tomatoes, you may opt to squeeze juices out (but into your batter) after you grill.
Seeds and/or dried fruits: ½ to 1 cup
Spices: Herbs de Provence, curry, your favorite fresh herb, chile, salt (unless you add soy/Braggs/tamari), onions, garlic
Liquid: If I use tofu, I use less tomato sauce. But I always add tomato marinara of some sort.
Something to stick it all together: I use eggs and cheese. Vegans, I know, often use egg-substitute and vegan cheese.
Grains: I like using quinuoa or amaryth, for their protein properties. Rice and oats look pretty. Mashed potatoes and yams are another good idea.

Directions: Same as above. That is: Mash the beans or tofu. Add the rest of the ingredients. Then add the grains until you can make patties. Cook ten minutes on each side at 350. Sometimes I make a vegetarian gravy to go with this, using a little Braggs, a little not-Beef boullion, and flour. GreenDaddy was a big fan of it.



marcia said...

do you deliver?

Anonymous said...

no deliveries, but we'll have you over for a barbeque when we get back from thailand/india...& share.


GreenDaddy said...

In one hundred years, I think Texas will be a land of vegetarians and MaGreen will have helped make it happen. People will says things like, "Oh my goddesses, our grandparents ate cows!"