The making of veggie burgers (and a recipe)

Over on Serious Eats, The Food Lab set out to make a veggie burger that doesn’t suck. They take you through their thought process on coming up with the perfect burger.

I’ve kind of mentioned in previous veggie burger posts that there are key components to any successful burger: veggies (duh, the name) seasonings (flavor) and beans and/or grains, at the very least. And this article takes you through all the components, what worked (and didn’t) and why they are necessary to a great veggie burger. There is also a recipe included. If you are interested in veggie burgers and experimenting to try your own, it’s worth a look.

And one thing I always mention that this article didn’t was that all veggie burgers (that I’ve ever tried) can be doubled and frozen to have them ready for the future without the work. Just pop them in the oven (for best results) to reheat.

TVP burger

I recently tried a burger with a product I’ve never used before: Textured vegetable protein. It is used in place of ground beef and is made from reduced-fat soy beans. I figured a veggie burger would be a really great place to start.

TVP (as it’s called) is high in fiber, protein and iron. Because it is like ground beef, it has a lot of uses. There is a recipe for rice and beans on the package I plan to try soon.

Back to the burger. I found this on the Bob’s Red Mill site. It also uses chickpea flour to bind it, so it turns out really chewy. And I used the vegetables and seasonings from the recipe, adding an Italian seasoning blend I have, but you can use whatever sounds good.

Textured Vegetable Protein Burgers

Makes about 6 burgers (depending on size)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the boiling water with the TVP, ketchup, sea salt and herbs. Let stand for 10 minutes, then mix in the grated carrot, chopped celery, chopped green onion and parsley flakes. Mix in the oil and vital wheat gluten flour to make a firm mixture.
  2. Scoop out a packed 1/2 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty. Repeat until you have 4-6 formed patties.
  3. Place patties on a greased baking sheet at bake at 350° for 30 minutes, flipping burger after 15 minutes.

Have you used TVP? What did you make with it?

Running update: Nutrition

As I’ve trained for my first 10k (a fee days away!), I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I can handle. I know I will be able to finish a 10k and (slowly) run most of it. Once a week I go on a longer run than the last. To keep energized during runs that last more than an hour, planning for nutrition and hydration are important.

To be fully prepared and keep my body in top shape, I’ve started to really focus on nutrition and fuel before and after my runs. Being a vegetarian, I’m already aware of nutrients and vitamins my body needs, but now I’m focusing on what I should eat when to maximize my running ability and stay healthy.

One friend let me borrow Olympic runner Jeff Galloway’s Book on Running. I bought the book Thrive, which is written by a vegan athlete and tells how to achieve better results and nutrition with a plant-based diet. In addition to the books, I’ve found the blogs No Meat Athlete and Plant Runner. Runner’s World has a page for vegetarian runners featuring recipes and tips and the Vegetarian Resource Group has a Sports Nutrition page. I’ve been busy training for my 10k and other life things that have popped up, so unfortunately I haven’t devoted much time to looking into these books and websites beyond poking around.  But in the next few weeks, it’s at the top of my list.

For now, beyond reading articles, I’m focusing on eating the right kinds and amount of food and drinking the right amount of water before and after runs. I’ve experimented with homemade energy bar recipes (here, here and here). Before a run I usually have one of these or a banana, sometimes with peanut butter and (especially for longer runs or when I’m hungry) sometimes on a bagel.

After a short run I will have an orange. Something about being dehydrated, the citrus is so refreshing and juicy and sweet. But many times, especially after longer runs, I have a smoothie. Smoothies are great because you can throw whatever you have that sounds good together, but my go-to smoothie is pretty simple. I put flax and chia seeds in the bottom, two large handfuls of spinach in, a banana and coconut water or filtered water until covered. Blend, taste and if it needs more sweetness (or I can taste the spinach) I usually add a little vanilla extract and/or agave until desired sweetness. If it’s too thick, I just add more water until it’s the consistency I want.

I can tell how little things make a big difference in my performance, and food and drink are no exception. Fellow runners, what do you eat to fuel yourself and what resources do you use?

Endurance crackers

I’ve been wanting to get into crackers for so long (Essentially just baked thin bread, what’s not to love?!) and when I saw something called “endurance crackers” full of seeds, I thought this was awesome.

My first thought was to dehydrate them (I love raw breads, crusts and crackers) but both times I’ve made them I have baked them because I want them quicker! I plan to try them in the dehydrator sometime, though.

I got this recipe from Oh She Glows, a vegan website I love. And Angela was inspired by this recipe from a restaurant she went to. That’s how I start many of my recipes! She also has a wheat thin-type cracker that she packed with spinach that is next on my “crackers to make” list. (I don’t really have such a list, but being a lover of lists, maybe there should be. Hmmmmmmmm.)

This came at the right time because I’m really starting to focus on what I eat to help sustain energy throughout the day, especially pre- and post-run. And these are a really easy cracker full of crunch and the right amount of saltiness that, pared with hummus or a creamy cheese offers a great, filling snack.

To get the recipe, visit Oh She Glows. The pictures are beautiful and will make you want to grab all your seeds and make these awesome treats.

Lentil burger

Lentils are a pretty great food. They don’t have much of a taste, so they can be versatile. They are cheap and quick to make, making them a great pantry staple. They have a high amount of protein and fiber, so they are a healthy and logical choice to star in a veggie burger.

This is an easy recipe that creates a thick, filling, flavorful veggie burger, great for meatless Monday, Lent or a healthy alternative to meat. Veggie burgers also last a long time in the fridge and are always easy to freeze for future use.

I have had this recipe for a long time; I got it from The Veggie Table, a good (albeit old-school interface) website that has a lot of good vegetarian recipes. Because the lentils take on the flavor of the food they are with, feel free to substitute other veggies or spices based on availability and preference.

 

 

Lentil burgers

Makes about 8 thick burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry lentils, well rinsed
  • 2½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, optional
  • ¾ cup rolled oats, finely ground
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Place the lentils, water and salt in saucepan, bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, until water is nearly gone and lentils are very soft, with splitting skins.
  2. Sauté the onion and carrot in oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Mix the lentils, onions, carrots, pepper and soy sauce (if using, I replaced a little of it with liquid smoke) in the large bowl, then mix in the ground oats and bread crumbs.
  4. While still warm, form the lentil mixture into patties, which can now be frozen, refrigerated (for up to 5 days) or cooked immediately.
  5. Cooking (2 possibilities):
  • In a frying pan, heat a bit of oil, place a burger on top and fry until brown, 1-2 minutes. Repeat on other side and serve.
  • In a 400º oven, bake the burgers on a greased baking sheet until light brown, about 15 minutes.

What’s for dinner? Check these sites

Stumped as to what to make for dinner? Sometimes I get stuck when planning my weekly meals. I have a few resources I turn to for help, and thought I would pass them along to you.

Visual bookmarks

I always start at Pinterest, as I bookmark a lot of recipes I would realistically make with foods I eat and have around. It is a visual bookmarking site, so I just click on my food boards and look at pictures until something inspires me. Follow me on Pinterest!

Gilt Taste also does this, but doesn’t have as many recipes. It does have a lot of “how-to” descriptions to improve making the basics.

Work with what you have

There are a bunch of sites that let you tell what you what you already have and it makes a meal out of it. I haven’t used My Fridge Food much but like what I’ve seen. There are a lot of similar sites, including Supercook and Recipe Puppy, which is an ingredent-based search engine, so it searches many sites.

And you know I wouldn’t leave out after-dinner drinks. At Extratasty and the Esquire magazine drinks page you tag the ingredients you have and they tell you what drinks you can make.

Specific foods

If you have one specific food in mind — maybe you have a craving for it or maybe you have a lot or it’s going bad — there are some places to find inspiration. I love the New York Times Recipes for Health series, and they break it down by ingredients. The Farm Box Diet is a 411 for CSA info and have recipes broken down by common foods you would get from a farm. The Washington Post has a nice recipe finder where you can search by type of food, put in a search or click if you want it fast, kid-friendly, meatless and/or healthy.

What’s in season now, anyway?

To get the best taste and value in a food, it’s best to eat in season. But how do you know what’s in season? Epicurious has a nice map where you pick your state and the month, and tells you what is in season and has a link to recipes. And Cooking Light has a list of food broken down by season.

What is your solution on when you are stuck what to make?