I made these this afternoon when I was craving some good ole traditional Irish colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale or cabbbage) and I wanted something high in protein to go alongside it. I also had carrots which I steamed above the potatoes while they were boiling. I’ve made a variation of these before as a proper burger to have in a bun, and have also made them in little falafel shaped discs and in balls. Versatile!
Kidney beans are a very good source of cholesterol lowering soluble fibre, beneficial for digestion and stabilising blood sugar, as well as being a good source of protein and iron. Quinoa is from the same family as greens like spinach and swiss chard, and the leaves of the plant have a similar taste to these plants. Quinoa is a seed rather than a grain, which it is often mistaken for due to some marketing it as a grain alternative similar to couscous. Quinoa is higher in protein (as well as including all the essential amino acids making it a ‘complete’ protein) than grains such as rice, with good levels of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
The history of quinoa is strongly rooted in the Andes regions of South America, spanning several countries. Previously a locally known indigenous food for thousands of years, Quinoa has become well known worldwide in recent years due to it’s high nutritional content. There has been much debate regarding the sustainability of this global demand, sparking ethical concerns in relation to the increased demand for quinoa driving up the price in it’s native countries -with some claiming that western consumer demand has raised the price so high that most people in these countries can no longer afford this highly prized and nutritional staple. There are arguments against this, claiming that the price rise and negative impact of increased demand is exaggerated, and that the decline of quinoa consumption in it’s indigenous countries is due to a separate desire for more westernised foods. It can still be argued however that this desire for Western food is driven by the low prices which global corporations have the luxury of being able to provide, tainted with low nutritional value and high levels of food processing to boot. Purveyors of both sides of the view will have their own agenda, but it is a valid note to keep in mind, as many of the much prized superfoods and health foods championed by health conscious and often ethically led Western consumers have a long, complex history from soil to plate which can have negative effects – the origins of much of the food which we consume and it’s related environmental impact in relation to food miles and unsustainable growing, and the social impact in relation to global food poverty is often overlooked in favour of the personal benefit to the consumer. Locally sourced, responsibly grown food is obviously desirable yet not always easily found, but it is important to question the social, economic, and environmental back story to our food in order to make up ones own mind about personal consumption.
Ooops, got a little sidelined there, back to the recipe!
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- Chia gel made with 1 tbsp milled Chia seeds and 3 tbsp water
- 1 green chili (according to taste)
- Smoked paprika
Prepare the chia gel by mxing the chia seeds and water in a bowl and allow it to stand for 15 minutes. Bring the quinoa to the boil in the water, then cover and let simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Dice the onion, pepper and garlic in to very small pieces and mash the beans (you can leave some of them whole if you like, for a chunkier texture.) Mix all of the ingredients together, along with the chia gel. The gel will act as a binder and is a great alternative to egg in recipes such as these where the purpose is binding. Divide in to burgers or balls, and allow to set in the fridge for 30 minutes. This step can be omitted if you are in a hurry, but they will keep their form better when cooking if you allow them to set. Shallow fry for several minutes or bake for about 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius