Are ‘Plant-Based’ Veggie Burgers Healthy?
That’s an excellent question posed regarding the humble veggie burger in a recent story on Forks Over Knives blog. And a conversation my guys and I were having recently. As more and more people move towards plant-based eating, meat-like veggie burgers are coming to market.
My guys really enjoy their burgers. And they prefer it be beef. I, on the other hand, I enjoy veggie. Since I do most of the cooking, guess which type of burger is served. Yup, the veggie burger. While my husband likes the different types of homemade veggie burgers, my son isn’t a fan and requested that I get “Beyond Burger.” It looks, smells, and tastes like a meat burger.
That’s where two questions came up during our dinner as my guys ate the “Beyond Burger” and me a veggie burger: what are these burgers made of that makes them like a beef burger, and are they healthy? After googling, the ingredients for these ‘plant-based burgers are interesting. They are a combination of pea protein, oils, and flavorings. Kinda not appealing to me as they seem rather Frankenstein-ish. And are they healthy? Well, that’s debatable. There is a bit of saturated fat and sodium. Just because it is vegan or vegetarian doesn’t make it automatically healthy.
For me, I will pass on these types of “fake” meat. if I’m honest, I never was a fan of the taste, smell, and texture of meat, so these sorts of products aren’t for me. That said, these products are suitable for folks moving towards plant-based eating. And those who still want that beef burger sensation without eating an animal. As you transition to plant-based eating, you’ll find that moving away from wanting meat-like foods. At least, that’s what is happening with me.
I rather make my own burgers. I love the wonderful combinations of flavors and textures. The recipes I’m sharing below aren’t your cardboard veggie patties from a decade ago. Instead, they are moist and flavorful. I encourage you to try any of the recipes, and let me know what you think.
Veggie Burger Recipes
When it comes to veggie burgers, I love Mary McCarthy‘s recipes. Her black bean veggie burger with an addictive 1000 Island Dressing will have you craving it. Or her smoky dogs served with caramelized onions which can be formed either in a shape of a hot dog or burger. A chickpea burger made with harissa from Real Simple magazine is my new go-to veggie burger.
All of these recipes have bursts of favorites and textures. You will not miss the meat in these burgers. All are made with simple ingredients and are easy to make. You can top your burger with some homemade pickled red onion or dill pickles.
Black Bean Burgers
Chickpea Veggie Burgers
How did I stumble upon a Radish Pea Shoot Crostini recipe? Easy. But first a confession: I love watching paranormal shows like Kindred Spirits. When Discovery forced folks to subscribe to Discovery+ in order to watch online, I was bummed. Being in the middle of the pandemic, we gave in and purchased a subscription. Needing to justify paying for the subscription when we are already paying for cable, we starting exploring coming across “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook.” Her husband is Chris Fischer who is a chef and farmer. The cooking show is hysterical and the recipes are so good.
Radish Pea Shoot Crostini
In the “Lunch Break and Pasta Night” episode, Chris makes Pea Shoot Crostini with Shaved Radishes. I’m always looking for new combinations for breakfast or lunch. And how can I expand my palate being plant-based. Never was a fan of radishes with no reasonable reason as to why. Never heard of pea shoots honestly. But I decided to try the recipe. My only concern was if I could source the ingredients given we were in a pandemic and the supply chain was whacky.
Simple Quality Ingredients Rule
It is all about the ingredients. Simple quality Ingredients are what makes this recipe so wonderful. All it is is bread, garlic clove, pea shoots, radishes, oil olive, lemon, salt, and pepper. At first I followed the recipe, but then I modified it. On hand I had some of Newport Sea Salt’s Bella Napoli blend. Why not sprinkle that on it instead of just salt and pepper? Best thing ever! I’ve added cherry tomatoes and chickpeas to the pea shoot mixture which turned out yummy in both cases. Just keep your ingredients simple and fresh.
Radish Pea Shoot Crostini
- - 1 baguette or other crusty bread sliced
- - 1 clove garlic
- - 8 oz pea shoot chopped finely
- - 1/8 - 1/4 cup olive oil
- - 1/2 lemon
- - Bella Napoli Blend or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- - 1 radish bunch sliced thinly
- 1. Pre-heat your broiler then toast the bread.
- 2. Rub garlic clove.
- 3. Mix pea shoots, olive oil, and lemon juice.
- 4. Spread mixture on toasted bread.
- 5. Top with sliced radishes.
- 6. Finish with Bella Napoli and a drizzle of olive oil.
The Traditional Pasta Cacao e Pepe
We’ve been rewatching Somebody Feed Phil with Phil Rosenthal and recently came to his Venice episode and binge watched Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy. During Tucci’s Rome show, he visited Japanese chef Kotaro Noda’s Bistro 64. Chef Noda made the classic Roman dish, Cacio e Pepe.
While we were watching it in the morning, my mouth was watering and I knew what we were having for dinner. I adore pasta (and actually most carb rich foods). To me a bowl of pasta is comfort food therefore, I don’t need an excuse to make it. It took me a couple replays of the segment to get the ingredients and technique down.
A Humble Dish
This is a truly simple and humble dish with six ingredients… seven if you count the pasta water. The stars of the dish are freshly ground pepper, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses. In 15-minutes you could have this meal.
Looking for another quick and simple meal? Try a bread salad from Tuscany, Panzanella.
- 8 oz Spaghetti
- 1-2 cups salted pasta water
- 3-4 Tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon freshly grown black pepper
- 1 cup finely grated Pecorino
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- - Cook spaghetti according to the directions adding a generous helping of salt to the water.
- - Drain pasta reserving 1-2 cups of pasta water.
- - Melt butter in large pan stirring in the pepper toasting for a minute.
- - Add a cup of the pasta water and bring to a simmer.
- - Add pasta then slowing add in cheeses tossing together until a "creamy" sauce forms. If the pasta is too dry then incorporate more of the pasta.
- - Finish the dish with more freshly ground pepper.
Ice Cream! Ice Cream…
We all scream for ice cream! Especially in the summertime. The heat is on here in Newport so chocolate nice cream is welcome in our house. Recently I made mango sorbet and it turned out yummy so I decided to find out if I can make vegan chocolate ice cream. We love ice cream especially chocolate in our house. As we are eating more plant-based, it is important I can introduce “normal” foods familiar to my guys.
Chocolate Ice Cream is Easy
Yes, it is to my joy. Made with three ingredients: frozen bananas, plant milk, and cacao powder. That’s it. What I love about this recipe and the sorbet is it is ready to eat once done blending. You just need to remember to slice and freeze ripening bananas to have on hand, but other than that it is immediate gratification. Always appreciated when craving ice cream. Another thing I love about it is that it is healthy. You can have your ice cream and eat it too!!
A couple tips:
– Let the bananas thaw for a couple minutes
– Use quality cacao powder for a really luxe ice cream
– Put in freezer for that perfect consistency
My dairy forever son and my toughest food critic gave me two thumbs up. He couldn’t stop eating it.
- - 5-6 medium-sized bananas or 2 cups, cut into slices and frozen
- - 1-2 tablespoons plant milk
- - 1-2 tablespoons cocoa, cacao, or carob powder
- 1. In a food processor or high speed blender, blend the slightly thawed bananas until they start to get smooth.
- 2. Through the chute, add 1 tablespoon of plant milk and more if needed.
- 3. Scrape down the sides and add in the cacao.
- 4. Allow it to process again for another 3-4 minutes, or until fluffy and smooth. You may need to open and scrape down the sides periodically.
- 5. Eat right there or put in air tight container in freezer.
Homemade Small Batch Dill Pickles
After my success in making picked red onions, I decided to seek out a recipe for refrigerator dill pickles. I grew up with Kosher dill pickles. The old-school delis and grocery delis all had barrels filled with Kosher dill pickles. Big, fat juicy ones. The barrels had clear plastic lids with thongs that you used to dive for pickles. It was like a games as if you could get the pickle wanted. Every kid walked around the story with a pickle in a waxed paper bag. It was a treat.
Picky about Pickles
I like dill pickles, but I’m picky about them. They have to have natural flavor and be crispy. Not be overly sweet or salty. It is an art form to make good dill pickles. I found a recipe for a small batch of pickles. While I wanted to try to make pickles, I didn’t want to waste food by making 5 jars to find out it isn’t too my liking. Super simple to make, just boil water, white vinegar, sugar and sea salt then combine thick cucumber slices, garlic clove, fresh dill, and a punch of crushed red pepper in a jar. Add the cooled liquid mixture to the jar, seal and give a good shake. Pop it in the fridge for 2 days before eating. It is the longest weight. I use regular and/or English cucumbers; whatever I have on hand. They work great. The refrigerator dill pickles taste great on their own, but they are yummy on a veggie burger.
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
- 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoons and ½ teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoon and ¾ teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoons and ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoons and ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup cucumber slices
- 1 cloves garlic, whole
- 1 heads fresh dill
- Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1. Stir water, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt together in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil; remove from heat and cool completely.
- 2. Combine cucumber, garlic cloves, and fresh dill in a large glass container. Pour cooled vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture. Seal container with lid and refrigerate for at least 3 days.
Mango sorbet has become my go-to creamy frozen dessert. Sorbets are naturally lactose-free and for those of us who dairy is not our friends means we can enjoy that feeling of eating a frozen dessert. On my journey to a plant-based lifestyle, my taste buds have evolved. Remember I was a dairy girl. Cheese and ice cream were food groups.
You can imagine how bummed I was when I realized that dairy and I were not compatible. And funny how when you can’t have a favorite food, you suddenly want it more. That was me with ice cream. I suddenly wanted ice cream. I needed to find a win-win for health, waistline, and frankly my wallet. That’s where mango sorbet comes into the picture.
Refreshingly Simple to Make
Mango sorbet is so simple and quick to make. And what I love about it is that it is ready to eat when you finish preparing it. So if you keep the ingredients handy, then when a craving, for me usually after eating a strongly favored meal, hits then you can whip it up in less than five minutes. Also means a great dessert for entertaining.
All it is: frozen mango chunks, coconut milk, lime juice, and maple syrup. Throw it in the food processor blending until smooth. That is it! I use frozen mangoes for two reasons. One, I can’t selected a good mango to save my life. And two, it save time and work.
Chocolate Nice Cream is Next
Chocolate ice cream is a favorite of mine so I’m going to try out making chocolate nice cream using frozen banana and oat milk. Fingers crossed since chocolate is so good. In the meantime, grab a spoon and dig in into the mango sorbet or if puddings are more your thing then try chai pudding!
- 2-3 cups frozen mango chunks
- 100 ml canned coconut milk
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- Lime juice, 1/2 of lime
- Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until ingredients are smooth.
- Serve immediately or place in air-tight container in freezer.