If you’ve got little ones in your life, you are familiar with this scene: A beautiful dinner that has been prepared for your family with both love and pride is plated up and presented to your child, only to hear the dreaded, “I don’t like that,” spoken with a nose scrunched and mouth turned down. As the mom of a 4-year-old who is such a picky eater that we’ve visited a food specialist, the version I’ve heard over and over is, “I don’t ‘yike’ it!” Determined to be smarter than the preschooler, I’ve developed and fine-tuned a recipe to both hide and entice my little stinker, oh, I mean, my son (and husband) to eat all kinds of vegetable, and even “yike” them.
The “Sam-burger”: There’s lots of pureeing recipe books out there, but I’m a working mom and that extra step rarely happens, so here’s my basic recipe for my “Sam-burgers” which can be followed and adjusted anytime you use ground meat in your cooking.
1) You need a food processor, mine is a “mini” version that takes up little count space and is easy to clean (they cost around $15).
2) Pick at least 3 veggies that can be cooked. Really, you can’t mess this up. My go-to combo is onion, red pepper, garlic and carrot. Other suggestions are squash, pumpkin, tomato, kale, spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
3) The ratio that you want to shoot for is to have your mound of ground-up veggies to be about ¾ the size of your mound of meat. Worried that you over did it? No worries, just add more breadcrumbs.
4) Ah, yes, the bread crumbs! While you’re at it with the processor, throw in slices of some good quality whole grain bread, and some stale crackers (or those health-food ones that you bought thinking you’d get your kid to eat flax). Go for a mound of breadcrumbs that is about half the size of my lump of ground meat and then adjust as you start to mix.
5) Spice it up! Throw in a big hand full of ground up fresh parsley, and then any other fresh herbs that you have on hand or growing in the garden are fair game to mix in. Have fresh cilantro? Cool, make mixture Mexican inspired with green peppers, onions, squash, cumin, paprika… you get the idea. Make the spices match up with the herbs that you add to the mix.
6) Now you just simply bake them up. Switch it up from personal sized meatloaves (they cook way faster than one big loaf) to hamburgers, to meatballs to using it to stuff manicotti or cabbage. Serve it with everything from rice, to pasta, to just a bun with some ketchup. You know all the goodness that’s in there, so side dishes can be simple, and nothing to stress over if they don’t get eaten.
7) The leftovers burgers/balls/loaves can be frozen, and pulled out later for a quick microwave meal when you just don’t feel like cooking.