Finding balance with food, movement, and community for my (dairy-free) family.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Broccoli Beef Bites: Kid-Friendly Nuggets

This recipe is sort of like a home made chicken nugget--except that it's made with ground beef and packed with broccoli . . . so the similarities are some what tenuous.

This isn't exactly a hidden-veggie recipe, but it is definitely a subtle-vegetable recipe.  It's also a package-deal vegetable recipe:  there's no way to eat it and pick around the veggies.   These freeze well, reheat-well, and make a quick and handy lunch or snack.

Broccoli Beef Bites

1.5 lbs ground beef, cooked
3 cups steamed, shredded broccoli*
3 cups bread crumbs **
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or lightly greasing.

Step 2:  Combine all ingredients.  I found it easiest to combine by working the ingredients together with my hands.  (This recipe seems to be very flexible--adjust as needed with more bread crumbs or eggs until it's a texture that will hold together in patties; I suspect the type of breadcrumbs one uses might be a big variable.)

Step 3:  Form mixture into nugget-shaped patties and place on prepared baking sheet.  (Tip:  These are not cookies, so they will not expand; they may be place close together on the cookie sheet.)

Step 4:  Bake for 25 minutes, flipping once, until lightly browned.

Step 5:  Serve with dairy-free ranch dressing.  (This really is a must--totally fabulous!  I use coconut milk in place of the soy and skip the chives because I don't have them on hand.)

*I use about 3 heads of broccoli, including all but the toughest parts of the stem, steam it, then run it through the food processor to shred (but not puree). 
**To make bread crumbs, we collect bread ends and bits and store them in a gallon bag in the freezer.  When the bag is full, we lightly toast them in a 250 degree oven, then run them through to food processor to make crumbs.  I store crumbs in the freezer until needed.  

This recipe is based on chicken-and-veggie nugget, Crocodile Nuggetsposted by Cooking Traditional Foods.

Kid-Friendly Introduction Strategies

When I first made a version of this recipe, it was, frankly, a flop with my kids, but  I blame that on a faulty introduction strategy on my part.

Mothers of picky eaters are often advised to introduce new foods by linking the new food to a known, preferred food.  That's the route I tried here--comparing these to commercial chicken nuggets.  They are lovely, but Chicken McNuggets they are not.

When I said "nugget" my six year old envisioned a commercial, breaded, deep-fried chicken nugget and anything different was a betrayal of his vision.  He flat out rejected them.  I waited quite a while before a second attempt at intruducing them--this time call them "bites" instead of "nuggets" and, viola, success!

I've also found that trying to distract from the vegetables with cute names alluding to interesting green critters--Shrek, alligators, etc--is unsuccessful with my kids.  The broccoli is subtle, but still obvious in this recipe and trying to distract from it seems to make the kids suspicious and reluctant.  At my house, it is better to call a spade a spade and encourage my kids to enjoy it for what it is.

This post shared at Friday Food Flicks,  Whole Food Wednesday and  Allergy Free Wednesday.


  1. Thanks for the great idea! I think I'll make these tonight!

  2. another dinner recipe of yours for me to try! Thanks for sharing with this week on AFW!