I have wanted to write about our adventures in eating with Baby Genius for months! Now here we are, and he eats many of the same things we do, so it is high time that I begin writing about this journey. I suppose I’ll be doing it a little backwards. Baby Genius has had a lot of dietary restrictions–more so than a lot of babies due to his cow’s milk protein sensitivity (which was so severe for his first six months or so that I had to give up dairy) as well as a suspected gluten sensitivity. We waited until after his first birthday to introduce dairy or wheat because we wanted to make certain that his system had a chance to mature so that he could deal with these things (and he’s still sensitive to some dairy).
Anyway, this is a long way of saying that as BG began enjoying more solids, we couldn’t just give him anything. We wanted, for example, to try him on veggie burgers, but most commercial veggie burgers contain either dairy or gluten or both. But I stumbled across two varieties that didn’t. There was Amy’s Bistro Burger, which was mostly rice, mushrooms, and a whole lot of salt, and then Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burger. He liked the first, but once I found the second, we were in trouble. The boy devoured these things. The beautiful thing about them is, one, they are made of all real ingredients–things you can easily identify, and things that many people have readily on hand; and, two, they are mostly vegetables (with just a tad of corn, cornmeal, and oat bran). Seriously, these things have zucchini, broccoli, spinach, carrots, peas, edamame, bell peppers, onions, and probably more that I’m forgetting. So they have a few things going for them: they taste great, they are super convenient, they get lots of veggies in, they are easy for little ones without many teeth to chew, and so much more. However, they are also fairly expensive. At our local market, they cost nearly six dollars for four of them. At T.rader Jo.es, they cost around four dollars a box (so a dollar a piece), which is better, but still a lot considering just how much my kid adores them.
Because we’re so determined for Baby Genius to eat whole, real, healthy foods, we’re not really willing to give in to the usual toddler stand-bys of chicken nuggets and whatever other crap people feed their kids when they’re in a hurry (no offense intended here; I just feel very strongly about all of us eating real food). But we are still busy, and toddlers can be crazy-picky and hard to feed. I won’t deny that we need the occasional shortcut.
So, I decided, what the hell, I’m going to make them myself. The ingredients were listed on the box, and I figured I could replicate it. So last yesterday, after a trip to the local market and a trip to farmer’s market, I took the plunge. To make it really fast and easy, I bought frozen organic versions of many of the veggies, and after an hour and some revisions, I had two dozen veggie burgers that looked and smelled a whole lot like my son’s favorite. The true test came at dinner time when my son ate two whole veggie burgers, and probably could have had more. He loved them just as much as the commercial ones. And the kicker? It cost me a grand total of $7 to make these things.
I’m so inspired, and I have never been more proud to have someone like my food. And, I’m going to share my recipe! Please note that this is a work in progress, and many of the amounts are approximate, so feel free to play around with them. I will also update this if I find a new secret ingredient or an adjustment that needs to be made. If you don’t need to worry about gluten, you might replace some of the cornmeal with flour (or you could also include rice, oatmeal, barley, or any other grain–we’ll be trying others).
Baby Genius Veggie Patties
- 2 c. corn (frozen is fine)
- 1 c. frozen veggie medley or a cup combined of carrots, peas, green beans, and lima beans
- 1/2 c. shelled edamame
- 1/2 c. peas
- 1/2 c.- 1c. of spinach (or other dark leafy greens), chopped
- 1 c. zucchini, shredded
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 leek, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. red bell pepper
- 2-3 T. chopped fresh parsley (or other herbs to taste)
- 1/4-1/2 c. cornmeal (depending on thickness desired)
- 3-4 T. olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- (optional) any other desired veggies: broccoli, extra carrots, greens, cauliflower, summer squash, etc.
- (optional) other grains desired to thicken or add texture
In a food processor, puree corn until smooth.
In the meantime, saute bell pepper, onion, leek, and garlic. Stir in parsley. Add to corn mixture.
If using frozen or fresh veggies, steam all vegetables except for zucchini until either just cooked (fresh) or just defrosted (frozen).
Add all veggies to corn mixture.
Add 1/4 c. cornmeal, 2-3 T. olive oil, and salt & pepper.
Pulse everything until combined, but leave it a bit chunky (it’s best to have bits of peas and edamame to bite into, but if you over-process, you can always add a little extra of these veggies).
This will make a lot! It should be pasty. If it it’s too runny, add more cornmeal (or other grains/flour/thickeners).
To cook, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, and form patties that aren’t too thick (when too thick they won’t cook well in the middle). Once the oil is heated, place patty (or patties) in pan. Brown on one side, then flip. You may want to cover them and reduce the heat to help them set up a bit, but be sure to crisp the outsides (they’re best this way). These can also be baked, but they won’t have the same crispness (however, with some extra steps, one could make them crispy–I just haven’t tried this).
To store the rest, form patties, and place them on a cookie sheet. Freeze them (takes about 1-2 hours), and then remove them to a freezer storage container or freezer bag. When you want to serve them, take one at a time out of the bag, and cook them just as you did when they were fresh.
Enjoy! I hope you’ll tell me if you try these! (Photos to come later.)