Let’s just call a spade a spade–cooking allergen-free is hard. It’s twice as hard if you’re trying to cook for your family, too. And if you’re trying to feed four kiddos without resorting to threats and/or bribes in order to get them to eat their dinner, it’s pretty near overwhelming. Ask me how I know.
That’s why recipes like this one are my best friend–recipes that are allergen-free at the core, but that pile on all kinds of optional gluten and dairy that make dinner seem more palatable and “normal” to my little ones. Actually, they loved this dinner so much that, after everyone had thirds and we put a stop to the burgers, they continued to eat the pita bread with cucumbers and yogurt inside.
Allow me a minute to define my terms. When I refer to something as “allergen-free” I am saying that it’s free from the top six allergens: gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, shellfish and peanuts. Of course a body can be allergic to ANYthing, but these are the biggies. So if you (or your nursing babe) are obviously having a reaction to a food, but can’t tell which food, the best place to start is eliminating these six things from your diet. This is commonly referred to as an “elimination diet”. I have also heard it referred to as the “no-fun diet”, the “chicken and rice diet” and the “what-the-heck-CAN-I-eat??” diet. I’ve heard a few other names for it, too, but it wouldn’t be polite to mention those.
This is a tough way to be getting your daily sustenance, no joke, and it’s not for the faint of heart. You will be surprised to find gluten and soy and dairy popping up in unusual places. Bacon? Yesiree. Potato chips? You betcha. Herbal tea? Indeed. Again, ask me how I know.
I know it’s an intimidating path to start on, so here’s a little recipe to help you along. I wish I could remember where I got it, so I could give proper credit. If you’re unable to eat onions (or if you have a three-year-old who throws anything green onto the floor, not that I’d know anything about that), be sure to omit the scallions.
A favorite trick in our house, of both the gluten-consuming and the gluten-free, is to use lettuce leaves as burger “wraps”. So if you are gluten-free, but still want to eat your burger out-of-hand (instead of with a knife and fork) wrap a large lettuce leaf around your burger and off you go. You can even stuff some toppings inside, though it can get a little messy (looks like a bit of tomato chutney snuck it’s way into the one in the picture).
If you’re in a huge hurry, I’m sure you could substitute ground chicken for the chicken thighs, but know that you will also be sacrificing texture and juiciness. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers
Source: undocumented (Do you know? Please share!)
- 1 ½ pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into rough chunks
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Grapeseed oil (or other soy-free oil) for grill
- romaine lettuce leaves
- 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- (optional) 4 whole-wheat pitas (6 inch)
- (optional) Cumin Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)
- In a medium bowl, place the chicken, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, spices, 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for at least 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes.
- Preheat grill.
- Transfer the chicken mixture to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Don’t mix it too much or it will be gummy (yuck). 10-12 pulses should do it. Gently form the mixture into sixteen ¾ inch thick patties (about 3 tablespoons each). You can also make eight larger patties, if that’s your preference.
- Oil your grill and grill your patties until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. I use an indoor grill and usually turn a cake pan upside down over the grill to help cook the middle of the burgers.
- If using pitas, halve them crosswise (you can toast these on the grill if you’re feeling fancy). Into each pocket place chicken patties, cucumber slices, lettuce and/or cilantro sprigs. Serve with cumin yogurt sauce, if desired.
Cumin Yogurt Sauce:
- ½ cup plain, organic low-fat yogurt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- course sea salt and fresh ground pepper
In a small bowl, combine yogurt and cumin; season with salt and pepper.
(This recipe is being shared over on Cybele Pascal’s blog. Click over to see lots of other yummy allergen-friendly recipes)