Veggie Burgers: Plant-based never tasted so good!

 

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By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

A little bit about me: I’ve been vegan my entire life…and have tried pretty much every vegan product out there.  Over the course of my journey, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the quality of these products, veggie burgers being one of them. No longer do vegan “meats” and “cheeses” deserve the bland and dissatisfying reputation they’ve acquired back from when veganism wasn’t so common.  This overview on veggie burgers is a reflection of my personal preferences after trying almost every plant-based product the market has to offer.

Veggie burgers are great meat alternatives for vegans/vegetarians, anyone trying to cut back on meat consumption, or for the average consumer who wants to switch things up.  In 2018, there are so many options out there on the market, as well as recipes for homemade veggie patties.  Most traditional veggie burgers are made from some combination of beans, tofu, grains, seeds, and vegetables.  However, there is now an increasing demand for “mock-meat” burgers, which tend to be higher in protein and contain soy, wheat gluten, or pea protein as the main ingredient.  The more traditional grain-based patties do not necessarily aim to mimic a meat patty, but can still be enjoyed as a nutrient-dense and flavorful plant-based option.

Here is a break down of my personal favorite plant-based burgers on the market:

Most realistic “meat” patty: The Beyond Burger

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This new plant-based burger has been blowing up in the media due to its almost identical appearance, taste, and texture to a real beef burger (it even bleeds!).  This burger is a great choice for fooling meat lovers and is inarguably the most realistically mock-meat on the market.  It has a whopping 20 grams of protein, but is also high in fat and calories (which resembles a real beef patty…minus the cholesterol).  If you’re switching to veggie burgers for nutritional reasons alone, I’d aim for one of the other version listed below. But if you’re really in the mood for an authentic beef burger, this revolutionary product is a great option.

Less expensive/caloric “meat” burger: Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers

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Boca burgers are one of my favorite mock-meat options at the grocery store.  At only 70 calories per patty, it has 13 grams of protein, almost no fat, and 16% of your daily fiber intake.  Although they aren’t as realistic as the Beyond Burger, this is a less expensive, readily available, and high protein options on the market.

Grain-Based: Hilary’s “World’s Best Veggie Burger”

 

This brand claims to be the “world’s best veggie burger”…and as far as ingredients goes, this burger is definitely one of the healthiest out there.  With lots of whole grains and vegetables, this burger packs in the nutrients, fiber, and flavor (although with less protein at only 4 grams).   In my personal experience, I’ve found that this burger tends to lose it’s integrity easily (aka crumble), so I’d recommend crumbling it over a salad, or being particularly careful when transferring it onto a hamburger bun.  However, as far as flavor goes, this burger is definitely 10/10.

Grain-based: Amy’s California Veggie Burger

 

Amy’s brand veggie burgers are simple yet delicious, and easily accessible at most grocery stores.   The bulgur wheat and mushrooms give these burgers an amazing meaty and hearty texture.  I wouldn’t say they’re able to mimic a beef patty, but I love these burgers as a healthy, plant-based protein source.  These burgers are only 150 calories and contain 16% of your daily fiber intake along with 6 grams of protein.  Its one downfall is the high level of sodium, but just be mindful of your sodium intake for the rest of the day.

Homemade: Vegan Black Bean Burgers

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Recipe from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/222247/vegan-black-bean-burgers/

This is a simple and quick recipe for homemade black bean burgers.  The main ingredients are black beans, bread crumbs, flour, vegetables, and spices.  You can simply combine all ingredients, form them into patties, and bake them in the oven.  This recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to change up the vegetables and spices as you see fit.  Homemade burger patties are a great option for students because they’re cheap to make and freeze well for quick and healthy meals!

My favorite ways to eat veggie burgers are crumbled up on a salad, sliced inside of a wrap, or placed inside of a sandwich.

 

 

Veggie burgers can be used to substitute or mimic meat, but are also enjoyable as a nutrient dense, flavorful addition to any meal.  Brands such as Beyond Meat are revolutionizing the plant-based meat industry, which is much needed as vegan and vegetarian diets increase in popularity.  If you’re in a pinch, veggie burgers are great for quick lunches and dinners.  They aren’t just for vegans either; anyone will benefit from incorporating plant-based burgers into their diet.

Food Trends

foodtrendv2“Gatorade? Pass. Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion? Next.”

“I’ll have the coconut water with a side of kale chips, please.”

Have you noticed the shift of popular foods that has been sweeping through magazines, organic grocery stores, and devoted foodies? Of all the trendy foods that are on the shelves, I’ll admit that it’s hard to decide which one is worth the hype. I’ve compiled a list of myths and facts for the latest food trends to help you decide.

Coconut

Myth: Coconut water is better than water during and after a workout

Fact: Coconut water has been glorified as nature’s sports drink because of the amount of electrolytes it contains. However, for most individuals consuming well-balanced meals throughout the day, water can hydrate them just as well as coconut water does. Also, coconut water contains high amounts of potassium, but after a long high intensity workout what your body really needs is sodium.

Tea

Myth: Drinking green tea will cause weight loss

Fact: Although green tea temporarily boosts metabolism slightly, it’s not enough to cause weight loss. Tea is still beneficial to the body in other ways with its ability to:

  • reduce blood pressure
  • lower cholesterol
  • decrease risk of heart attack
  • promote eye health by reducing risk of cataracts

Grains

Myth: Grains are bad for you because they contain gluten

Fact: Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, rye and oats. Individuals with celiac disease will experience intestinal damage and discomfort when they consume gluten. However, for individuals without celiac disease, gluten is safe to eat and there’s no proven benefit of eating a gluten-free diet. Most grains are actually good for you, such as:

  • brown rice
  • wild rice
  • barley
  • oats
  • whole grain pasta and bread

Remember to look for 100% whole grain products

Sustainable and Local Products

Myth: Eating sustainable and local is too difficult

Fact: Sustainable farming results in nutritious food that supports farmers and local businesses that will help the economy.

What does it mean to eat locally?

  • Food is produced locally rather than nationally or internationally
  • Food is grown close to your home and distributed in short distances.

What is sustainable food?

Raising food that is

  • healthy for consumers and animals
  • doesn’t harm the environment
  • humane for workers

You can make easy changes by going to the Davis Farmer’s Market and purchasing products that are grown and made locally.

Asian Fusion

Myth: Chinese food is bad for you

Fact: Many people believe that Chinese food is nutritionally bad for you because of high levels of sodium and oil in the food. Although Chinese food is known for containing MSG, a salt added to enhance the flavor of food, you can ask for food without MSG! Also, ask for your food to be cooked with less oil to reduce the calories. There are many healthy options you can try, such as varieties of Asian vegetables and lean protein such as tofu, shrimp, and chicken. When you want to add Asian flavor to your dishes at home, try using ginger, garlic, green onion, or low sodium soy sauce, all of which add flavor without calories.

Alternate forms of protein

Myth: I need to eat meat to get enough protein in my diet

Fact: There are plenty of vegetarian or vegan sources of protein, such as nuts, grains, tofu, beans, eggs, and dairy products (low fat yogurt and milk)

It’s important to consume foods with amino acids that your body can’t make. These foods are considered “complete protein” sources. Combinations of vegetable foods creating complete proteins include:

  • corn and beans
  • brown rice and split peas
  • avocado, sprouts & almond butter on whole wheat bread
  • tofu

Smaller portion sizes

Myth: The Freshmen 15 happens to everyone

Fact: Weight gain can be easily avoided by being aware of the portion size you’re eating inside the dining commons. Try to grab one plate at a time and enjoy the food while you’re eating it. Here are some other tips for controlling portion size:

  • use smaller bowls, plates, and cups
  • when you eat out only eat half or split the meal with a friend

What are the correct portion sizes?

  • a teaspoon of margarine is the size of one dice
  • three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards
  • one cup of pasta is the size of a baseball
  • an ounce and a half of cheese is the size of four stacked dice
  • one-half cup of fresh fruit is the size of a tennis ball