Veggie Burger – A Healthy Alternative
This veggie burger provides a healthy, satisfying and vegetarian alternative to the traditional beef or turkey burger. It’s loaded with vitamins, nutrients, minerals and fiber while satisfying your craving. Based on mushrooms, black beans, and lentils, it holds up on the stove or in the oven; doesn’t crumble or fall apart.
Lentils-Binding Agent in Veggie Burger
Lentils are pulses, which are the edible seeds of a plant. Their name is derived from the Latin term- lens, most likely due to their shape that resembles a convex optic lens. Lentils have been in existence for over 8,000 years, originating in the Near East and Mediterranean. Then, they were known as a poor man’s food, and often shunned by the rich. Today, they are recognized as an excellent source of protein and are often a primary source of protein, particularly for vegans. About 50% of the world’s lentils are consumed in India. The flavor of lentils is a very earthy, savory flavor and, like mushrooms, they tend to take on the flavor of the cooking liquid be it water, chicken, vegetable or beef broth.
Lentils and split peas are not the same- they are cousins. Split peas have had their outer coat removed (thus, they are “split from their outer coats”). Lentils retain their outer coat. For this reason, split peas cook quicker than lentils. Lentils differ from other pulses (chickpeas, beans, peas) in that they do not require soaking. Simply rinse and add them to liquid.
High in protein, low in complex carbohydrates, low-fat, cholesterol and gluten- free are just a few qualities of the amazing lentil. Based on the daily recommended intake (RDI) of a 2,000-calorie diet, a half-cup of lentils provides 26g protein and 18g fiber (72% of the RDI). They are also high in folate offering 50% of RDI of folate, 25% potassium and 45% iron.
Mushrooms Provide Nutrients to Veggie Burger
Mushrooms are a great source of selenium, potassium and copper. Selenium is a component of antioxidant enzymes that regulate the thyroid hormone. Potassium assists in regulating blood pressure by helping the kidneys excrete excess sodium. Copper is a component of several enzymes involved in iron metabolism and serves as an antioxidant. They’re also a good source of the B vitamins: B5, pantothenic acid, which is essential for energy metabolism. B3, niacin, which helps control HDL levels and is essential for ATP and DNA repair. Vitamin B2, riboflavin, is essential for RNA/DNA synthesis and control of neurofunctions. While not only providing a good dose of vitamins, mushrooms also provide trace minerals, which are essential to keep the body balanced and in-check.
Legumes Provide Fiber to Veggie Burger
Legumes provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, neither which are digested or absorbed into the blood. Insoluble fiber moves quickly through the intestinal tract, balancing the pH levels and removing toxic waste. Soluble fiber forms a gel when combined with liquid and binds to fatty acids; this prolongs the process of emptying the stomach, thus, sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. Due to complex carbohydrates, legumes have a low glycemic index which results in the sugars taking longer to break down. Since it takes longer for the soluble fiber to break down, you feel full for a longer period of time.
Beans are naturally low-fat, contain no saturated or trans fats, and are cholesterol free. Additionally, they provide folate, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, copper and phosphorous. They serve as a lean protein for maintaining muscle tone and provide complex carbohydrates for energy.
Black beans are the highest bean source of antioxidants. Consuming black beans may improve cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation and assist in eliminating bad cholesterol. The specific phytonutrients found in black beans are flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin and malvidin. These flavonoids control lipid metabolism and positively aid in the excretion of cholesterol.
The high levels of soluble fiber benefit the digestive tract by “sweeping out” harmful toxins, pathogens and extra sugar. Soluble fiber also assists in maintaining the body’s natural pH level. Legumes are naturally alkaline, whereas most people have elevated acidic pH levels due to diets high in meat, cheese and processed foods. Through the consumption of the high-alkaline legume, the pH level is balanced, allowing the liver and other organs to function properly.
The tricky part of preparing a really good veggie burger is getting the right consistency. Since this recipe doesn’t use an egg as a binding agent, the cooked lentils serve this purpose. After the lentils are cooked, drain them well and toss them in the strainer a couple of times. As they toss, they begin to break down even further resulting in a mushy consistency which is ideal for a vegetarian binding agent. This recipe uses two ice cream scoops of “burger” mixture and makes about 6 small patties.
If you elect to add additional ingredients for a modified flavor, do so in the food processor, when the mushrooms and beans are pureed. At this point, you should be able to tell if the mixture is too liquid or too dry. If too liquid, add more whole grain bread crumbs. If too dry, add more lentils or cooked grains.
Additional Ingredients for Consideration
- Vegetables: waxy potatoes (Yukon gold) cook, cool, chop and add to mushroom mixture
- Grains: substitute lentils with whole grain cooked rice, barley, quinoa, or farro. If you use a cooked grain, drain well after cooking and use a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture.
- Greens: spinach, kale, finely chopped green beans, green peas
- Spice: chopped jalapeno, hatch peppers, red or green bell pepper, chipotle peppers
This recipe features a chipotle mayonnaise, but you might like the Avocado Sauce or Bleu Cheese Dressing!