Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Hello dear people.  So excited to be sharing our food journey as of lately.  Did you read my last post?  Click HERE for a peek into the start of our plant strong adventure.  I feel like there's so much more to share...so much more to learn.

So here we go.  The burger post.  Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers.  I'm excited to share this because making these burgers has been a valuable learning experience for us.  It's been a lesson in trial and error, as well as a chance to discover or remember to use ingredients we haven't used much previously at all.  I will put it out there right now.  This is all new for me.  I am not a professional chef.  I haven't even hit the tip of the ice burg when it comes to whole foods/plant based diet knowledge.  I am not claiming that all bean burger knowledge is mine.  I have so much more to learn.  I am craving information.  Every time I prepare food, I want to prepare it better next time.  Our meals are constantly evolving and changing right now.  No recipe is settled as of yet.  I am simply a wife and a mom trying to do the best I can with what I'm learning.  The journey continues.

These burgers have become a staple in our lives recently as we continue on a path to eating healthfully.  As we have about a week or so of meals we are rotating, we are also hungry to try new things and explore what's out there.  There are SO many meatless and healthful burger options.  Somehow, this was our first endeavor.  We were directed to THIS recipe by our brother in law, who had also recently adapted this eating lifestyle.  He thought they were alright but could be better.  That was our starting point.  I'm always excited to get a recipe from someone, knowing they've tried it first and hear the review.  Being a guinea pig is not my favorite thing.  Hearing from him gave me  something to work with.

We've made this recipe a few times now, and each time it's gotten better.  Each time I've added ingredients, eliminated ingredients, and just hoped for the best.  It's kind of been like a food experiment.  It might help if I preface this burger recipe with a disclaimer.   A bean burger has a texture that can take some getting used to at first.  It's a bit softer and dare I say mushier.  Dude it's squished beans.  It's to be expected.  In our opinion, it's not a big deal...especially with all the fixins we pile on.  I'm not sure you can really compare these bean burgers to meat burgers though or expect to impress or convert your friends and family.  However, you might be able to open the eyes of some innocent bystanders by simply sharing the goods...and armed with information (power), they may just become a bean burger lover.  These bad boys are good and tasty in their own right, and I can say with complete certainty that I won't feel deprived or feel like I'm missing out by not eating a meat burger for the rest of my life.  These burgers have great flavor and leave you feeling full and satisfied.  The valuable, plant strong nutrients are just a bonus!

Makes approximately 4 substantial burgers

- 4 good sized whole grain burger buns
- 1 15oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa* (give or take...about 1/4 cup uncooked and then cooked...explained below)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs...any breadcrumbs (I make my own in a mini food processer...so easy!)
- 1/4 cup red pepper minced
- 1 small zucchini* grated (or half a bigger sized zucchini...ours were really tiny)
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 1 clove garlic minced or squirted through one of those garlic press thingamajigs OR a few dashes of garlic powder*
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon...give or take...of hot sauce (We used Frank's RedHot, and it wasn't too hot or spicy.)
- 2 big squirts of ketchup (probably about 2 tablespoons)
- Optional: Chia Seeds

- Sometimes I cook 1 cup of quinoa (with 2 cups water) and use it all week.  I use 1/4th here, put some in salads, add it to soups, and include it in breakfast.  I haven't tested it out yet (sorry), but I think 1/4 uncooked quinoa is about 3/4 cooked.  I've read that several places online, and it looked about right when I was adding quinoa to this recipe the other day.
- I used garlic powder this last time, and for one reason or another, the burgers were our favorite since making them a few times before.  I think I'll use garlic powder again instead of garlic next time too.
- Zucchini was a recent addition, and I think it provided a moistness and extra dose of veg without affecting the flavor or texture at all.
- You can add ANY other seasonings to tailor the flavor of these burgers to your mood...I mean...look in your spice cupboard and go crazy...seriously.
- Some folks add an egg to meatless burger recipes as a binder.  We're avoiding eggs when possible these days and haven't needed one for the burgers to bind together successfully.

Gather your quinoa and set aside.  Squish the beans with a fork in a big bowl.  The more squished they get, the more helpful they are in holding the burger together.  To the bean mixture, add your quinoa, breadcrumbs, zucchini, onion, garlic (powder), cumin, salt, hot sauce, and ketchup.  Mix ingredients thoroughly.  Form four equal sized burger patties that will be a good fit for your big buns.   (He he he...that made me laugh.)

Cook burgers (in a non-stick skillet if you can to avoid sticking and breaking) about 5-8 minutes per side...give or take.  Basically, hang out near the burgers.  Watch them.  The worst that would happen is they'd get too dried out I think.  I like to form a bit of a crust on ours, so it's really up to you how long you cook them.  You want them to be warmed through for sure, and you want them to hold together.  Be careful as you're flipping, as these burgers are fragile and can break VERY easily.

And toppings...or accompaniments...or fixins...whatever people call it.  It's all about the fixins!!!  The more you add, the more exciting and flavorful these burgers become.  I can personally vouch for the following toppings on these burgers.

Hummus...plain or garlic flavored
BBQ sauce
Caramelized onion
Sauteed mushrooms
Red Onion
Chia Seeds

And now...THIS!!!

Ugh!  Okay, so this picture kind of grosses me out.  Just keepin' it real.  After all the information we've gained in going veggie strong, knowing my son refuses to eat these bean burgers is a big bummer.  Convincing our little carnivore has been a bit difficult.  On the night we made these burgers, we cooked up a Trader Joe's turkey burger for little buddy.  It had been a rough week with several plant strong meals he wouldn't eat.  So frustrating...and for me, emotionally draining.  Remember my thoughts in #8 HERE?  Often when he won't eat what I've made, we allow for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, along with other fruits and veggies.  I'm not sure what it is, but I'm not ready for the whole, "Eat what was prepared or go hungry," stance.  We're just not there.  Not sure if we'll ever land there, but for now, I know we're not there.  The flip side to that, though, is I also don't want to be the Mom that is cooking a separate tailored meal for every person in the family.  I mean, I just can't.  That I won't do.  And really, it's not the end of the world that he ate a turkey burger from TJ's.  What I'm aiming to do is work in his heart...help him understand the importance of health, wellness, and nutrition...why we're choosing to cook and eat a bit differently than we have in the past...have him choose health and wellness for himself when given the opportunity.   We are winning little victories here and there and experiencing breakthroughs consistently, but it's moments like this that remind me the journey never ends.  Not giving up is key.  Thankful for tomorrows.

In thinking about what's next, there are other meatless burger recipes I look forward to trying.  This recipe is simply where we started.  All it takes with meatless burgers is a little experimenting.  What we're finding is that the more we experiment with flavors and spices and/or adding or subtracting ingredients, the more fun and flavorful our meals have become.  Tailor it all to your liking!

And just a funny for you.  I find it hilarious that a few of the meals that have become staples in our house as of lately are burgers, pizza, and tacos.  Sounds so ironic to me...but when you take out the stuff that makes those meals pretty unhealthy and you taste what's left...you've got yourself a plate full of yum and a bunch of superpowers.  Amazeballs.

Big hugs and wishes for health and deliciousness!

On a personal note, I'm discovering a love for blogging that doesn't go away.  My blog is not professional, funded, or well known, but it's mine.  I've done the best with what I have and have had so much fun putting it all out there.  I mean shoot, this is the longest running journal I've ever kept.  Every other journal or diary has about 15 pages of goodness filled in...with the rest of the pages left blank.  I'm a bit bummed because those pages had such potential for awesome reading material for the grown up me.  Can you just imagine?  Do you have the amazing reading material for yourself?  Ahh you do?!  Can I read it?  Nah, that's your awesome reading material.  But seriously, somehow this blog is different.  As an adult/wife/mother, journaling is different.  Chronicling life is different.  For a time recently, I had to kind of stop for a spell.   As they should, the roles of wife, mother, and human being with limits took priority over blogging.  I was choosing sleep over blogging...the ability to function and be present with little buddy.   It was the obvious and right decision.  However, I've found myself longing for this creative outlet.   So, I've come to accept my blogging limits, and by golly, I will blog...slowly but surely...little blurbs at a time.  :)   Hallelujah!


  1. These look great! You're right, it's not the end of the world that he had a turkey burger. Maybe next week he will....I have a picky eater. We solved the meal time hassle by deconstructing meals. I make one meal but set aside the components of the dish for "she who can't eat food that touches anything". While we have burrito bowls, she has a little quinoa, grilled veggies and chicken, beans, and salsa on the side to dip. Same with soup, she'll have the broth on the side and the meat and veggies before things get all simmered together. "On the side" is huge at our house. The blog Dinner a Love Story has some great ideas about this.

  2. Thanks Kaye! Love your deconstruction idea...as we have become well acquainted with that method as well! Gotta love the journey! Thanks again!


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