GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Cruelty-Free Happy Meal


It continues to be a journey away from junk.

It’s not always easy, especially when I’m tired, busy, didn’t think about what to pack for lunch or make for dinner and the Little Boy peanut-voice says, “Maybe we go to McDonalds?”  “No, not tonight,” I say gently, “Mommy will make something.”

(Which begs the question: How does he even come to suggest this? We have NEVER eaten there. It just happens to be in our neighborhood and he sees other kids there- I can’t shelter him from evil forever!)

I don’t want to be that parent who forbids anything- that just makes them want it more, right? But if I can effectively avoid, dodge, do circles around and make a mockery of the Golden Arched-Enemy (and all his Allies) then it’s one more day I haven’t let it creep into our organic-vegetarian-sustainable life.  This will get more difficult as time goes on, I’m sure of it; not just avoiding fast-food, but helping to guide our son to good choices of all kinds for his health and for the planet.  This is a task I’m willing to take on: his physical health and how he lives his life after he leaves our home someday depends on what we do now.

I’m not sure why, but it is also surprising to Joe and Jane Schmo Public that my preschooler eats vegetables, and even enjoys them. He especially liked this meal, which included kale chips, because he got to help pick the kale from the garden, wash it up and then put the fixin’s on his bean burger.  Also, the kale is sort of purple, and vegetables that are cool colors are much more appealing.  Involving him the process, though sometimes it takes FOREVER to do something, is totally worth it.  (Cooking with a three-year old is a special kind of joy/torture/comedy.)

Bean Burgers with Kale Chips

There is no “recipe” for this bean burger, because I make them different every time, depending on what is in the fridge that needs to be used.  But here is a basic layout:

  • Beans: these pictures use white beans because that is what was cooked and needed to be eaten. They are also good with black beans (my favorite) or lentils.
  • Rice or other grain: These photos are with cooked brown rice, mixed with quinoa. It was in the fridge and needed to be used.  Quinoa cooks quickly and also mixes well with lentils.
  • Firm vegetable: Again, whatever needs used. This time it was half a zucchini. I have also used bell pepper or shredded carrots. Just make sure it doesn’t add too much moisture to the mix. You don’t want soup-burgers.
  • Egg: For vegans, you can skip this and make a flax-egg to hold it together. But we have happy productive chickens so I use 1 or 2 brown eggs.
  • Bread crumbs or crackers: A large handful usually does it, just to keep it sticky and not too gooey.

Pulse it all in the food processor until you get a good consistency.

Once you get the consistency that is thick and not too runny, you can either cook the burgers on a cookie sheet (about 375 for 40 minutes) or you can use a skillet.

Both are good, but I think the skillet method might be a bit faster.

Skillet cooking also gets them nice and brown, with a bit more “crunch” on the outside.  They look like pancakes, right?

Once the burgers are cooking, you can prep the kale, by cutting off all the stems, cutting into bite size pieces and tossing with a bit of olive oil and salt.  Spread it out on a cookie sheet as close to single-layer as you can- I don’t have a sheet or oven big enough for as much kale as we get but we do our best!

After about 10-15 minutes the kale chips are done, and were lovely and crunchy. I put the bowl on the table for small hand nibbling while the burgers finished cooking and then cooled.

And even though I sized it down for a toddler, he still asked for more, so he got the other half of his burger and more kale anyway.

This was a tasty, easy dinner on a night when we also had other children visiting and everyone had seconds.  Take that, McCrapolds.

Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

3 thoughts on “Cruelty-Free Happy Meal

  1. McCrapolds. Love it! LOL

  2. Both my kids thought I was the meanest mom on earth for letting them drink one soda only on the weekends, not letting them watch South Park, and having a midnight curfew. My daughter eats healthier than I do now and rarely watches TV. My grown son eats copious amounts of junk food–and still loves South Park. We do what we can when they’re still at home, right?


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