Doing the whole ‘healthy’ thing.

Originally posted April 2012.

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I’m usually very, very bad at maintaining a healthy diet. Sure, I eat my fruits and vegetables, but when you realize that, at 25, your favorite foods are French fries, cheese and bacon… well…

It’s time to start exploring some better-for-you options.

I bought a bag of quinoa a couple of months ago, with the intent of making these quinoa burgers, but I ended up making, y’know, penne with vodka sauce, and ribs, and chicken fried steak, and going out for sushi with our friends John & Mel, and ordering Chinese food…

So the quinoa sat in the cupboard.

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And sat.

And sat.

Until yesterday, when I said, I’M MAKING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

 

Ok, so I said to the boy, “hey, do you want something different tonight?” and he said “meh, sure.” We were an enthusiastic pair yesterday. I don’t think I changed out of my pajamas. Hooray for five-day weekends!

So I found that quinoa burger recipe, and sought out some others. I was torn between two (the aforementioned burger from Eat Well Living Thin, and this one from Cooking Quinoa, which the author raved about). So I decided to mish-mosh both, and what resulted was something better than I had anticipated.

While I’ve grown out of my indignant “burgers should be made of beef AND NOTHING ELSE except maybe bison or something” stage, and have endeavored to make turkey, chicken and black bean burgers, none have really been on par with beef burgers. Not to mention, they never stay together. They’re eternally crumbly or soggy and it would make more sense to eat them with a fork as opposed to on a bun.

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But this one, while it of course doesn’t measure up to something like a juicy, beefy burger with barbecue sauce and grilled onions and melty cheddar and pepperjack cheese (oh lordy…), it was delicious in its own right. AND it didn’t fall apart! At all!

Frankly, I was afraid that quinoa burgers would taste like…I don’t know, rabbit food? I mean, look at it. It’s made out of little tiny grains, and it has carrots in it! But, both authors were basically writing odes of devotion to these little patties, and I did have a bag of the stuff just sitting there, so I said, “well, I’ll make this, but I’ll also make some fries,” because damnit, I can’t stay away.

These will go down in the history books as a healthy success. Boyfriend gobbled his up, as did I, and I’m actually heating up a leftover patty for lunch as I type. This time, however, I’m eating it with a little bit of spinach salad, because I’m out of potatoes I can’t live with myself if I eat fries again.

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But I’m also out of potatoes. I ate mine last night with this smoky aioli, which is so amazing, my sister said she wanted to drink it. Twice. Today I’m opting for guacamole, which is also a delicious accompaniment. I highly recommend trying either of these recipes — and I most definitely recommend trying my mishmosh of both.

Quinoa patties (makes six)

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup sour cream
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 shredded small carrots
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used a mix of seasoned Italian and panko)
Olive oil, for frying
1/2 tbsp butter, for sauteing
Toasted whole wheat buns
Smoky aioli, optional
Guacamole, optional

While your quinoa is cooking (which takes about 20 minutes, and cooks pretty much the same way rice would), saute your onions and garlic in butter until soft. Put them in the food processor and blend until minced.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your quinoa, sour cream and salt. Next, add your garlic and onion mixture, cheese, carrot, cayenne pepper, cumin and bread crumbs, combine thoroughly, and allow to sit.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Once your oil heats up, add two patties at a time. I cooked them for probably a little over 10 minutes on the first side, to make sure it crisped up and didn’t fall apart. My stove is also, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, very finicky about heat distribution and what not, so it might only take you 8-10 minutes to get your patties to crisp up. Flip, and cook another 8 minutes.

Serve on toasted buns with smoky aioli and/or guacamole, and whatever healthy or unhealthy side dish appeals to you.

Happy eating!

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