Shortly after our second son was born my dear friend brought us a batch of the most amazing homemade chicken sausage patties. The gift of any food when you have a brand new baby is tremendously helpful. What made this particular food gift all the sweeter was the thought she took in choosing the recipe. When I asked her later for the recipe she added that she wanted to make us something reflective of the way my husband and I prefer to eat.
Her thoughtful choice of postpartum nourishment was a beautiful way to demonstrate affection for our family while respecting our need for a healthy meal.
The tradition of showing love with food is deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. The practice of loving with food is visible all over popular media. Advertising images regularly depict families bonding while gathered around a table mounded with favorite foods. The beloved mothers of 1950's and 1960's television sitcoms were up bright and early to put an abundant hot breakfast on the family table. In the afternoon they welcomed their children home from school with plates of warm cookies and frosty glasses of milk. In the evening you can see them proudly presenting a roast and potatoes to their husband to soothe him after a long day at the office. Oh, and don't forget the cocktail. Today celebrity chefs demonstrate recipes that frequently begin with a stick or two of butter and are often crispy fried before serving.
These food-centric images all influence our relationship with showing love to our family and friends.
I love thinking of the kitchen as the heart of a home. I feel whole-heartedly we should gather with family and friends to share food. Studies show tremendous benefits to families who regularly share meals. There is no reason both home cooks and professional chefs shouldn't continue to cook with love for their families and friends. However, my dream is for the food they share to show respect for their loved ones health and wellbeing as well as communicate affection.
At this point in my life, feeding my loved ones with food, that is both delicious AND nutritious, is a no-brainer. I have found that foods high in fat and calories force our bodies spend more energy dealing with the extra junk and as such we are left feeling tired and feeling gross. I want my family and friends to be around for a long time. When planning a meal, I choose foods that will nourish and fuel my loved ones. I pay special attention to the natural colors, textures, and flavors of each ingredient and let them shine as much as possible.
Next time you plan a meal, think of it as a message of both affection and respect. Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables and combine those with nourishing proteins. You can whip something up quickly or pick something with many steps and lose yourself in the process. By sharing lovingly created, respectful meals, we are doing our part to ensure our families and friends will be lively and present for many years to come.
Sweet Potato-Apple Chicken Sausage Patties
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 small bunch 1 ½ oz of green onions, minced (about ½ cup)
- 1 1lb sweet potato, peeled and diced into tiny pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt divided
- 1 medium ½ lb green apple, minced (about 1 cup)
- 3 loose cups 3 oz of finely chopped kale, (leaves only)
- 2 pounds lean ground chicken
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic about 2 cloves
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds crushed lightly
- 1 tablespoon coarse deli mustard
- 1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
- Make sure the first 6 ingredients are prepared before beginning to cook.
- Warm oil in a large skillet over medium high heat add green onions and cook until tender, 2 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and season with a couple pinches of the pre-measured salt. Sauté for 5 more minutes, or until the potatoes are just barely tender, stir frequently. When cooked, scoop the potato mixture into a medium bowl. Set the potatoes aside and return the pan to the heat.
- To the skillet, add the diced apples and a pinch of the pre-measured salt. Sauté for 3 minutes Add kale and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooked ingredients to the sweet potato mixture and set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl (with room for your hands) combine the chicken with the eggs, flour, garlic, fennel seeds, mustard, sage, and remaining salt. Fold the ingredients together a few times with a fork or your hands. Add the cooled sweet potato mix and continue to fold the ingredients together just until everything is evenly distributed. Do not over mix, the meat will turn mushy.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours up to overnight.
- After the mixture has rested, divide the chicken 14 (4 oz) portions then flatten each portion into a 1 inch thick patty.
- For best results cook these in a single layer in a well oiled cast iron pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. For results that are nearly as good, cook the patties in a single layer in an oil misted large non-stick pan. Cook about 6 minutes per side, flip when a golden crust has formed. For either method: Your patties should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165F. If they have a dark crust on each side but are not yet cooked in the center, or you are unsure, finish the patties on a sheet pan in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked.