The weather is warming and the grills are coming out. You don’t want to overwhelm your arteries with too much red meat, but if you have to eat another cardboard-tasting veggie burger you’ll scream. You are in luck on both counts. If you must have red meat, there is new evidence that red meat (organic, free-range, and in moderation) may not be as bad for you as previously thought. If you want to trim the fat and red meat out of your diet though, here are some delicious ideas for veggie burgers that are packed with flavor, protein, and other healthy ingredients that are not only delicious but also can provide relief from inflammation and stress.
Veggie burgers need substance, veggies, seasonings, and a binder.
If you are comfortable in the kitchen, ditch the recipes and give your own a try. For the base of the burger you need a combination of grains, legumes, veggies, nuts, and seeds. You could use quinoa, black beans, corn, and pumpkin seeds as a base. Try oats, chickpeas, beets and cashews. The options are endless, and you are building more than a burger. Quinoa and black beans are packed with protein, and pumpkin seeds are soothing to the stomach, provide tons of minerals we need, help lower cholesterol, and more. Oats and chickpeas are also soothing to the stomach, and beets help elevate mood, cleanse the body, and are also loaded with vital nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. For extra omega-3s, your base can be salmon.
Think about texture as you are processing your base. Don’t puree into a paste, and don’t leave large chunks. You want to chew something when you bite into your burger. A small chop is good for veggies, and some veggies can be shredded (like carrots and zucchini).
Go all around the world as you season your burger and choose a binder to keep it together.
The chickpea patty above would benefit from a binder of tahini or peanut butter and warming spices from India. Head to Mexico for the quinoa patty and load up on chili and cumin. These spices warm the body, help with inflammation, and can also cleanse the body of toxins. Using more seasoning also lets you keep salt to a minimum. Other binders can be nut butters, pureed beans, and ground flax. If you use beans as part of your base, you can puree half of them to use as a binder.
Let your patties rest after you form them, then get a pan ready. Veggie burgers don’t generally do well on the grill, but if you must have that flavor, cover the grill with aluminum foil and cook the burgers on that. Otherwise, heat olive oil (healthy omega-3s!) in a pan and sauté each side until they have a good sear and the burger is heated through.
After that, topping possibilities are endless! Think seasonal toppings. At the height of summer, choose ripe, juicy tomatoes and avocado. A cabbage slaw that includes thinly sliced onion and apple is a great spring detox, and Chimichurri gives a beautiful burst of flavor in the depths of winter.
If you want burgers that help control inflammation, veggies like cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, beets, and radish are excellent additions. Incorporating herbs like basil and oregano help fight inflammation and infection, as do spices such as garlic, cayenne, and cumin.
If you are a veggie burger newbie, try these delicious recipes to get you started:
Veggie burgers can be a great option for healthy eating, and you can also get creative with pain-friendly options that also help manage stress and soothe an upset stomach. Tell us what burger you’ll try first!
Image by Jennifer via Flickr