My children will tell you: there are many disadvantages of having a dietitian for a mother.
One of them is that I have a fundamental curiosity about trying recipes in a new way.
Somehow, despite several experiences proving otherwise, I believe there is a healthier way to make a recipe that will still taste delicious.
By healthier, I am relating to the current, scientific, perspective that trains our registered dietitians: lowering salt, saturated fat and sugar; increasing fiber. Consequently, I have made cookies that taste like muffins, mac and cheese enhanced with pureed squash or cauliflower, cake so dry it can only be eaten with a generous spread of butter.
I like to blame my children, but part of their food grievances is related to their learned distrust; tampering with conventionally understood recipes.
Burgers are one of those foods I love to play with. For some reason, I cannot make a 100% beef patty.
In fairness, I am thinking about the ecological footprint of the meal.
I am thinking about cost.
I am thinking about grams of saturated fat and lack of fiber.
Last week, I developed a recipe that was sure to fool the family. And so I took a can of red kidney beans and pureed it with my hand blender, before mixing it into the hamburger.
To be fair, my opinion was that the burgers were pretty good. Who can argue with adding 12 grams of fiber, along with magnesium and vitamin B6? Besides, to the untrained eye, they looked exactly like burgers.
When my husband got home, the house smelled of beef and his eyes lit up when he saw the burgers. I waited for the enthusiastic head nod that usually accompanies burger eating.
But after a few bites my husband turned his head and politely asked, “What did you put in these? They taste…different.”
That night, I felt like I let my family down, crossing the line between moderation and fanaticism. It is important to be open-minded about changing eating habits, but sometimes, with favourite foods, we should just enjoy them for what they are: yummy.
-Serena Caner is a registered dietitian who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.