March here at Filling Minds and Stomachs is a month where we will be blogging all about cooking for kids and with kids. However, when I thought about what I was going to write, I realized… I don’t have kids that can EAT yet! My little girl is just shy of two months old, so there is really no cooking I can do for her yet!
Creative solution: borrow someone else’s kids and cook for them! Enter my friend Cheryl, who I have known since high school and who was one of the first of my friends to have kids. Ryan, her oldest, is an active kindergartener and loves to play on her local playground before his afternoon snack. My challenge? Balance healthy, tasty, and fun.
I happened to have some cooked quinoa leftover from making Katie’s quinoa and black bean patties, so I started with that, and looked for a quinoa recipe that wasn’t just some sort of salad. I stumbled across this one, and loved how it also incorporated some hidden carrots and onions 🙂 Healthy? CHECK.
These were easy to whip up and they were out of the oven just before we went to pick Ryan up from the bus stop. In fact, the adults around (Cheryl, my husband, and I) all tried these and had a hard time not eating them all before Ryan got there!! I was impressed when my husband kept sneaking seconds (and thirds) because he will let you know if he doesn’t like something! Tasty? Double CHECK!!
When Ryan got home, he was ready for his snack but I was having a hard time explaining to him what this creation was… it’s cheesy… chewy… crispy… should I explain what quinoa is to a kindergartener? Does it even matter when his response on eating one was, “I want a thousand of these!”? I think not! Cheryl even likened the taste to loaded potato skins. Fun? CHECK!
All in all, it was a big hit–we had a good time making it AND eating it!
Here is the recipe with my modifications
Crispy Cheesy Quinoa Bites (Makes ~30 bites)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (cooled)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar jack blend)
- ¼ – ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 a medium white onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. dried parsley
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning salt
- pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly whisk the eggs together, then add all the remaining ingredients, and mix well.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (we used a non-stick silicone baking mat).
- Using about 1 tbsp of the quinoa mixture, squish it/roll it into balls and place them on your baking sheet, about 1½ inches apart.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes.
Educational notes: Quinoa is a very interesting, multi-faceted food. I can see class discussions springing from comparing its nutritional analysis to more commonly eaten grains (quinoa is actually a seed and has a higher protein content than most other traditional starchy foods). A good high school bio project might be to compare it to other closely related foods and distantly related grains taxonomically. Since it has risen to an elevated healthy status in North America, demand for South American producers has gone up and has brought up other social justice and economic issues. You could look at quinoa from a biological, historical, economical, and social standpoint and it would make for some great school projects!