Lillian definitely falls into that common species of toddler I like to call the nuggetvores. Put something in nugget form and she will eat it. Most of the time, I strive to prepare vegetables, proteins and other foods in their “whole” form, encouraging her to accept them as they are.
“This is broccoli. It is green. Try it and you might like it.” Or, “these are lentils, they are similar to beans, try them,” etc and so on.
But sometimes, we’ve had a long day and no one is in the mood for an argument and I just want her to eat something we can BOTH feel good about without getting the United Nations involved in the negotiations.
Enter the broccoli and white bean nugget. On the outside they look so much like a store-bought chicken nugget it’s almost disturbing. On the inside they’re packed with healthy things like broccoli and white beans, whole grains and cheese. The flavor is mild, with hints of cheesiness and a douse of Italian seasoning adds a vaguely Mediterranean flair. They’re delicious dipped in spaghetti sauce or ranch dressing.
Your child will love them. Then they will take a bite. They will munch and consider. And they will say “YUM!”
They will gobble the rest of the nuggets while you sit smugly in your seat delighting in the fact that your child is eating broccoli and beans and NO ONE IS ARGUING.
The recipe below is basic and easy to make but also very easy to customize. You can play around adding different veggies and seasonings. You can even play with shapes. Check out some of the versions I’ve seen on Pinterest that use the same basic concept:
- 1 cup frozen, chopped brocolli, thawed
- 2 cups (1 can) white beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup plain or panko breadcrumbs, separated (preferably a whole grain variety)
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, cracked pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with an olive oil mister or cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor combine broccoli, beans, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, eggs and seasonings. Pulse the mixture until smooth (about 1 minute). You may need to stop and scrape down the sides periodically to ensure a smooth mixture is achieved.
- Place remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Wet your finger under running water and grab a walnut-sized portion of the veggie mixture. Roll the ball into the breadcrumb and shape into a nugget or whatever shape you prefer to make.
- Place nugget on prepared baking sheet and repeat until mixture is all used up (makes about 24 nuggets).
- Place baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the nuggets halfway through, until they are golden and firm.
- Serve immediately or freeze and reheat at another time.