Family favorites with a blended twist
If you are raising picky eaters, there’s a cooking technique that makes some of kids’ favorite foods — like burgers and nachos — more nutritious while still tasting delicious.
Mushrooms, with their inherent umami flavor, are a perfect addition to blend into meals to increase both flavor and nutrition. Chefs kicked off the trend by blending finely chopped mushrooms with meat for burgers that are flavorful, healthy and Earth-friendly, and now blended burgers are showing up in school cafeterias, supermarket meat counters and fast food drive-thrus.
“Blended entrees like burgers are a win-win-win for families wanting to eat better,” said Dayle Hayes, registered dietitian and founder of School Meals That Rock. “Mushrooms add delicious umami flavor, reduce fat and sodium in many popular dishes and kids love them.”
Another fan of blending is MasterChef Junior finalist and teen chef, Evan Robinson, who likes to blend with multiple varieties of mushrooms in family favorites such as tacos, burgers and stuffed peppers.
“I find that blending mushrooms into some of my go-to recipes helps increase the flavor while reducing the amount of fat and sodium,” Robinson said.
If you’re ready to start blending at home, it can be a simple process for introducing foods to even the pickiest of eaters. Recruit kids as kitchen helpers to tackle tasks such as wiping mushrooms clean and using their hands to blend the meat and mushrooms together.
For more family-friendly, blended recipes, visit Blenditarian's website.
Blended Mushroom Nachos
Recipe courtesy of Chef Evan Robinson
- 5 Shiitake mushrooms
- 5 White button mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 Cup chopped onions
- 1 Tablespoon mexican meat seasoning
- 10 ounces ground turkey
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1 Cup milk
- 1 1/4 Cups mexican blend shredded cheese
- Tortilla chips
- Salsa (optional)
- Guacamole (optional)
- Kale (optional)
- Romaine lettuce (optional)
- Tomatoes (optional)
- Cilantro (optional)
- Diced red bell peppers (optional)
1.In blender or food processor, pulse mushrooms, garlic and onions. In large saute pan over medium-high heat, mix finely chopped mushroom mixture with seasoning and cook 2 minutes. Add ground turkey, breaking into fine crumbles until completely cooked through. Set aside.
2. To make cheese sauce: In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter then add flour and whisk constantly, breaking up lumps. Stir 2 minutes then add milk and continuously whisk. Stir in cheese and mix with wooden spoon.
3. Assemble chips on serving platter; spread mushroom-meat crumble on top. Add cheese sauce and toppings like salsa, guacamole, kale, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro and diced red bell peppers, if desired.
A cooking technique you need to know: Blending
Blending involves mixing finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat for more nutritious, but still delicious, burgers, tacos, meatballs and more.
1. Chop your favorite mushroom variety to match the consistency of the ground meat. This can be done with a knife or food processor.
2. Blend the chopped mushrooms with the ground meat.
3. Cook with Mexican seasoning mix for tacos, marinara sauce for meaty ragu or salt and pepper for juicy, flavorful burgers.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Evan Robinson
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Medium portabella mushroom, finely chopped
- 2-3 White button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/2 small onion
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons Italian-style herb seasoning
- 8 ounces ground beef
- Salt, to taste
- Pizza or marinara sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Hamburger buns
1. In large pan over medium-high heat, saute extra-virgin olive oil, mushrooms, onions, garlic and herb seasoning approximately 5 minutes until vegetables are soft. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
2. Blend mushroom mixture with ground beef. Season with salt, to taste.
3. Form into four patties and cook in same pan as mushroom mixture to preferred doneness. Top with dollop pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover pan to melt cheese then carefully transfer to buns.