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Beware the (Veggie) Burger

Posted Apr 24 2012 7:01pm

I’m not one to discourage anyone from vegetable consumption, but do veggie burger even qualify as vegetables? Loaded with sodium and processed ingredients, veggie burgers land on my own buyer-beware list.

Yes, veggie burgers are made of veggies. But, like their BBQ cousins, they undergo quite a bit of processing before they become those delicious patties. The techniques used to increase the shelf life of veggie burgers diminishes their nutrients. If that’s not enough to make you pass them by in the grocery store, many veggie burger brands are loading their burgers with sodium, some brands coming in as high as 400 milligrams per patty! A regular sodium intake that high can mean big trouble for your heart, and may even lead to high blood pressure or heart disease ! Sodium isn’t the only number on the nutrition facts panel that seems to be high. The Ruby Tuesday veggie burger packs a whopping 945 calories and 51 grams of fat, enough quantify two meals!

Although this information might be shocking, it doesn’t mean you have to write of veggie patties all together. When low in saturated fat and calories, veggie burgers can be an excellent alternative to beef patties. When shopping for your perfect BBQ buddy, look for brands that are low in protein, which usually indicates that their packed with veggies and whole grains instead of butter, oil and processed soy. According to the American Dietetic Association , 10 grams of protein or fewer is ideal.

The best way to ensure that you’re not eating a hot dog disguised as a veggie burger is to make it yourself!

Here’s a great chickpea burger recipe I can’t wait to try!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 scallions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 cup of cooked brown rice

2/3 cup of wheat germ

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 pita breads, warmed

1 jar sun-dried tomato spread

1 cup baby spinach, rinsed

4 tablespoons non-fat, plain, greek yogurt

1. Heat a small pan on low heat. Add sesame seeds to toast, 2-4 minutes until golden brown. Add cumin and warm until fragrant. Remove the contents of pan and grind in a food processor or coffee ginder. Set aside.

2.  Add canola oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. Set aside.

3. Preheat a broiler oven or grill for later use.

4. Use a potato masher to coarsely mash the rinsed chickpeas in a medium bowl. Gently stir in rice, 1/3 cup of the wheat germ, lemon juice, salt, and pepper as well as the reserved spice and garlic mixtures. Roll the patties into desired shapes and dredge them in the remaining 1/3 of wheat germ.

5. Place the patties on a lightly oiled rack or baking sheet. Broil or grill them until cooked all the way through (about 3 minutes per side).

6. Tuck the patties into the warmed pitas and top with sun-dried tomato spread, spinach and 1 tablespoon each of greek yogurt.

7. Enjoy!


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