(Family Features) 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. Robinson 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.
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.
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Blend mushroom mixture with ground beef. Season with salt, to taste.
- 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.
Source: Mushroom Council
(Family Features) There’s no time like a hot summer picnic to let your patriotic spirit show. These all-American snacks featuring a classic favorite fruit – watermelon – are the perfect solution for nearly any summertime celebration.
Watermelon is a patriotic picnic staple for countless reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a beloved treat that many people associate with memories from childhood. However, nostalgia isn’t the only reason adults are just as likely to gravitate toward watermelon at a summer event. Its sweet, cool and refreshing flavor also makes it a favorite for all ages.
From a practical standpoint, watermelon is also quite portable, versatile and easy to serve, and with a composition of 92% water, it’s a simple way to sneak in some extra hydration on a hot day. Another benefit is its value; watermelon is one of the best values in the produce section among fruit, and just one watermelon can feed up to three dozen people.
Serving watermelon at a party can be as simple as slicing wedges, or you can prepare a dish such as:
- A fruit basket, with the rind serving as a colorful bowl to hold the watermelon and other fresh fruits.
- A charcuterie board with a selection of fruit, cheese and protein for simple snacking.
- Creamy parfaits, perfect for a summery brunch or alternative to more traditional desserts.
- A creatively colorful and patriotic “cake” that makes for a tasty centerpiece on the dessert table.
Find more ideas for incorporating watermelon into your summer festivities at watermelon.org.
Easy Summer Thirst Quencher
A simple fruit-infused water can give your summer event an instant upgrade in no time at all. Add extra dimension and complexity to the flavor by adding some of your favorite herbs like basil and mint.
- 2 cups watermelon balls or cubes
- 1 cup other fruit, such as berries
- herbs, such as basil or mint
- Place watermelon, fruit and herbs in pitcher and cover with water. For best flavor, allow to chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
Red, White and Blue Watermelon Parfait
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 container (6 ounces) Greek yogurt (vanilla, lemon or coconut)
- 1 cup watermelon, plus three pieces diced watermelon
- whipped cream, for serving
- In pint canning jar, layer blueberries, yogurt and 1 cup watermelon. Top with whipped cream and garnish with three diced watermelon pieces.
Note: To make ahead or make thicker, drain Greek yogurt on paper towels to absorb some liquid.
Patriotic Fruit Salad
- 1 watermelon
- Slice 1/4 inch off bottom of watermelon, lengthwise, to create stable base.
- Use pencil to draw zig-zag lines for basket opening. Using paring knife, make cuts through rind.
- Carefully remove top section, pull out large chunks of flesh and cut them into 3-by-3-inch squares.
- Trim 3/4-inch thick slices off squares to use for cutting out stars with 1 1/2-3-inch, star-shaped cookie cutters.
- Use ice cream scoop to remove flesh from inside basket and cut scoops into quarters for fruit salad. Place in bottom of basket. Add honeydew and blueberries; stir to combine.
- Cut out white stripes from honeydew.
- Garnish top of fruit salad with watermelon stars, honeydew stripes and blueberries.
Patriotic Charcuterie Board
- 1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 10 strawberries (dipped in white chocolate, if desired)
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted, salted cashews
- 2 ounces cured meats like prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, salami, soppressata, sausage or pepperoni
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and sliced
- lemon juice
- fresh basil leaves
- On large board or platter, arrange watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cheese, cashews, meat and apples. Drizzle fruit with lemon juice. Garnish with basil leaves before serving.
Flag Kebab Cake
- 1 pint fresh, washed blackberries
- 12 wooden skewers
- 1 seedless watermelon, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes (white part only)
- dips, such as yogurt, chocolate, caramel or marshmallow (optional)
- Thread five blackberries on each of five skewers, followed by alternating watermelon and cake cubes.
- On remaining skewers, alternate watermelon and cake so first and last cubes are watermelon. Place skewers on platter; fruit and cake will create stars and stripes when lined properly.
- Serve with dips, if desired.