Gluten Free Chickpea Burgers, Photo by Kate Chan
The beauty of maternity leave, as I am discovering, is being able to spend time with my girls as our own pace. On the weekends, rather than running every errand imaginable, we can have little adventures with the girls as a family. (Although, I do reserve plenty of errand running to be down with My Love’s help as an active toddler and a newborn can make “quick trips” into afternoon outings.)
This weekend, we were lucky enough to meet with a family who is also in the adoption process – waiting for their child to be ready to travel. We drove up to Seattle to a public park where we visited as best anyone can with a toddler itching to ride down the slide MORE MORE MORE or swing MORE MORE MORE. Poor little thing thought that the random soccer balls or bicycles were part of the “community playground” as well as she was quite disappointed to learn that they weren’t. Her disappointment was brief, however. As soon as she had turned her head away from the longed-for-object, she spotted yet another delight that made her squeal and off she went with one of us close on her heels. (And yes, the Peanut/baby was with us… just snuggled up and completely asleep. She’s very accommodating like that. My life is going to be much more challenging as soon as the little one is mobile, that’s for sure!)
We decided to continue our adventure and bring Z on her first ferry ride, too. She was delighted to have Daddy “drive the car on the boat, Momma!” (repeat statement 1,000 times for full toddler-loving-joy effect). Even more exciting to her was learning that we could all get out of the car and go upstairs for the brief ride across to the island. Oh, she was in heaven. And I was trying to balance a camera along with a loosely wrapped baby in order to get some pictures to document her joy. Only…. the Chicklet didn’t want to do anything but rush to the side to see the water and life passing by.
We were lucky enough to head over to The Hardware Store where Daniel Ahern (aka “The Chef” of “Gluten Free Girl and the Chef“) works. I knew he would be cooking that night so the chances of my getting a delectable gluten free meal were spot-on. And I was SO RIGHT. The food was great! I dreamt of that fabulous gluten-free buckle all the way home and wondered why I hadn’t bothered to just buy some more for the drive home! OMG. SO freakin’ delicious. (Even better, Shauna has the recipe on her blog. So now I can make it any time I want and not have to pay the ferry fee! Who knew! I always thought a “buckle” was something related to Texas and belts! LOL)
Another thing I didn’t know (among many), is that we would also be lucky enough to have Shauna (Gluten Free Girl) and her little Lu join us as well. It was great as I hadn’t really planned anything, but as soon as I knew we were heading to Vashon Island, I might as well try to see if she was available to meet up. LUCKY US! And really – lucky Zoe!
Zoe and Lucy are a few months apart in age. It was fun to watch the girls twirling about and toasting each other with apple slices. (Seriously, each spontaneously hold up their apple slice and tapping the other’s while saying “Cheers” quietly. I hope I remember that cuteness for quite a long time!) Zoe apparently has a little Mother Hen in her (I am avoiding the control freaky term I really want to use). When Lucy will skidoodle off to greet and play with a restaurant patron or employee that she knew (obviously, Dad works there…), Zoe would rush to her and say “Lucy-ah! Oh, no!” and then put her arm around her to herd her back toward her Momma. (Ay ay ay…) But hang on, it gets even more 2-year-old. Lucy is getting her molars (poor babe), so just as Zoe did, she is eating ice. Unlike Zoe, however, Lucy can reach in to a water glass to get her ice cubes without having a conniption that her hands or clothing are wet…. requiring (in Z’s mind) a wardrobe change. Since Zoe loathes wet clothing, we just instilled the rule “No hands” if it was going to lead to a mess. So as soon as Z saw Little Lu reaching in for her ice cubes, the tattle-tale came out full force “Oh, oh, oh! No hands, Lucy-ah! No hands”. She was fixated. And we talked briefly about different strokes/rules for different folks. Thankfully, the apple slices appeared then and the two-year-olds did their thing: off dancing and twirling and saying cheers…. and dreaming of Buzz and Elmo. Cuties. I hope they can play together again some day. It was hard for Zoe to leave her new found friend.
Shauna and I got a chance to talk about food. We both thought about the good things that our kiddos are eating. And how they eat things just because we do. I know this is true from a cultural standpoint as well. Zoe will eat things that I never even knew existed when I was growing up: tofu? chicken feet? sushi? roe? Yeah… these items were not on your standard Minnesota menu in the 1970s, that’s for sure. I actually think that learning about food because of my diagnosis in 2000, made me more aware of the huge variety of foods. Living in a city (Chicago) made access to all of those things SO much easier too. It was an easier transition from gluten to gluten-free than it could have been considering in 2000 there were not the plethora of blogs or internet resources that exist today… let alone the variety of foods in the grocery stores that are clearly targeting the gluten-free group.
More importantly, I was able to put those middle school cooking classes to work for more than just soups and cookies. I could easily follow instructions to make new things and I wasn’t afraid to try something different (although it did take me another year or two before I would try to recreate any of my childhood favorites). Mostly, I wanted to keep learning about fresh food and keep trying new things to eat healthier. Now that there are kids in the house, this is more important than ever.
It blows my mind when I learned via Jamie Oliver/Food Revolution that this generation of Americans has a lower life-expectancy than do we due to their poor health. And poor nutrition is certainly a major contributor to that. And while my Love and I are not the fit-King/Queen that we want to be, we have vowed to work to get there for our kids and to continue to eat whole, healthy foods as a family.
It’s not gourmet. It’s natural, whole foods. And cheaper too.
On the ride home, I was thinking about the different things we had discussed and laughed about together. Mostly, I was thinking about her upcoming book tour (NY in just a few days, people! Go see her!) as well. I was wishing that more people could meet her and see that she really knows how to grab the bull by the horns well, okay…. I think she could probably grab a little lower… and call it like she sees it. The food that is in her latest book Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is GORGEOUS and will make you do two things (1) go buy a kitchen scale, if you haven’t done so already) and (2) make you dream of licking the photos like I was doing the first night I got the book home. When you read it, you will see that she isn’t cooking to be pretentious. She is cooking what they love. What they “play with”. What makes them “dance” in the kitchen. She writes short vignettes of life that make reading the book a delight. (Especially for those of us with little ones around!) I can’t wait to cook my way through the recipes…let alone read the snippets too.
Making it for yourself.
Today, I was craving buckle (again) but the Chicklet asked for Chickpea burgers for lunch. It surprised me a bit because she really likes these when I make them with mung beans or black beans. I thought about her request in relation to Jamie Oliver and Shauna. How many other kids are asking their parents to make bean burgers for lunch? I know quite a few, actually. And I’m hoping with books like Shauna’s, programs like his, and efforts like all of us gluten-free folks to make whole, natural foods for our families is taking hold. Maybe we can reverse that prediction for our kids. Now wouldn’t that be worth it? (PS. Shauna! Good luck with the book!)
Try it. Try out these easy-to-adapt bean burgers. In lieu of chickpeas, use black beans or pinto beans or mung beans (cooked, of course). Use the flavors and seasonings/herbs that make your tongue and tummy happy. You can’t go wrong.
Gluten Free Chickpea Burgers
Makes 4 large burgers or 16 “sliders”
1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas (or other bean) (if not using canned, than 16 ounces cooked beans), drained/rinsed
1 cup leftover or cooked brown rice
1/2 cup grated (or shredded, if you prefer) carrot
1/2 cup finely diced apple
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 Tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) chili powder
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro (or basil or dill or other fresh herb)
3 green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
salt/pepper for seasoning
- In a small processor (or with a fork), mash the chickpeas into a medium bowl. (I prefer to use a mini-food processor when using chickpeas)
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix very well.
- Form into 4 large patties or sixteen small patties. Set aside. (Some people cover and refrigerate their patties for 1 – 2 hours at this stage to help them stick together and bind better. I don’t mind if my burgers aren’t completely patty-set when I cook/eat them, so I skip this step for convenience too.)
- There are two ways to prepare the burgers: with or without oil for frying. Either way, heat your pan up over medium-heat for a couple minutes. If using oil, add a swirl of olive oil (not the sesame oil – that should be in the bean burger mixture) to the pan. When the oil (or just the pan, if not using oil) is hot, add the patty (or patties). Cook on each side 3 – 4 minutes or until browned. Flip gently with a spatula.
- Serve with gluten free buns or lavash bread or without. Serve with tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, feta cheese, tomato relish, salsa, greek yogurt, cucumber raita or tzatziki or whatever you enjoy. (Z always votes for barbeque sauce!)