Making My Own Veggie Burgers

A few weeks ago I went to a free cooking demo at the brand new Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany. It is a gorgeous new store that just opened, with a big kitchen space for cooking classes!

I saw they were holding a free veggie burger cooking class and jumped on the opportunity to check it out.

We learned the basics of veggie burger making. Buying store bought veggie burgers are convenient, but a lot of the times they contain many many ingredients and are sometimes very processed. They can get expensive, too. Lately I have been making my own and they taste great and are a lot cheaper. Plus, I know exactly what goes in each one!

It was so interesting to see the different combos of ingredients they used for each recipe.  The best part was trying them!

Here is one of the recipes we tried for a sweet potato and black bean burger.

This burger came out tasting amazing!

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At home I experimented with making my own and this is what I came up with:

  • 1.5 cups of lentils, cooked
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs or processed raw oats (or a mixture of both)
  • 1/4 c of sunflower seeds processed in food processor
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp of whatever seasonings you desire

I just mixed all the ingredients together and BAM, I had a soft veggie burger “dough”.

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The above photo was the first batch I made using a lentil and tomato mixture leftover from dinner the previous night.

The “recipe” above made enough to make about 10 patties, which I freeze individually for easy access when I pack my lunch.

I just heat about 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil in my cast iron skillet and cook each the patties until they are brown and crispy on each side. I find it takes about 10 minutes and flip them over a few times to make sure they get cooked.

In the past when I’ve made veggie burgers I found them to be a bit annoying and time consuming but with this fool-proof recipe it is pretty easy and now home made burgers are a staple in my diet!

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My Trader Joe’s Essentials – Part II

Last year I gave you a list of my favorite Trader Joe’s products–Since there are still tons of stuff I get there on a weekly basis, I figured I’d do another post.

Golden Raisins

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I love adding these to my salads and baked goods. For some reason they are just so much more plump and sweet than plain old raisins. They also make a perfect snack.

Quick Cooking Steel-Cut Oats

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No explanation needed here- I love steel cut oats but hate taking the time in the morning to make them, so they are usually saved for the weekend. These, however take only 8 minutes, so I can make them anytime for breakfast.

California-Style Complete Protein Bread

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This is a recent find for me–I love this bread and it makes amazing grilled cheeses with fig butter (see below!). Made with sprouted wheat berries, corn and oats this bread is only 90 calories per slice and has 5 grams of protein. Score.

Fig Butter

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I randomly picked this up out of nowhere and it is amazing! Not only is it delicious on its own on toast, but tastes amazing on a grilled cheese sandwich (Thanks Andrea for the idea!)

Chocolate Chip Brownie & Oat Bars

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These bars are another amazing find. They taste similar to Clif Z Bars, and are WAY cheaper! This one tastes like brownies. And I’m also a fan of the peanut butter bars.

Pesto Flatbread Pizza

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One of my favorite quick dinners is this pesto flatbread pizza. I added the eggs on top for protein (best idea ever) and it gets super crispy in the oven and cooks in a short time. Huge fan.

Soy Chorizo

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Normally I don’t like foods that are too spicy, but this vegetarian soy chorizo is so so good. It has heat, but the flavors are so good and the texture is great too. I love cooking it with sweet potatoes in a pan to have for breakfast with eggs.

Sprouted Organic Extra-Firm Tofu

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This tofu is a staple of mine. It comes in a pack of two so when I don’t need all that tofu at once I can just use half a block. I eat with everything–salads, quinoa, etc. I love it. Here is my favorite way to prepare tofu.

Eggplant Cutlets

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Found in the freezer section, these eggplant cutlets are perfect for quick meals (again, I love quick meals). I make eggplant parm with these…it feels like cheating.

Tofu Edamame Nuggets

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Another one of my favorite quick foods from the freezer section are these tofu nuggets. They are reminiscent of chicken nuggets but are better for you, I’m assuming. Love them dipped in low sodium soy sauce along with rice and greens.

I’m sure there are more I’m missing. All the more reason to write another post in another 6 months! What are your current Trader Joe’s favorites?

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Cooking and Baking Up a Storm

Sunday is usually my day for grocery shopping, cleaning, or relaxing. Sometimes spent studying for tests that I have the upcoming week!

I’ve been having the urge to bake and cook but during the week its so hard, so Sunday I usually make a big batch of something for the week.

I was eying a recipe for a roasted veg mac and cheese that I spotted on Pinterest a few weeks ago. Thankfully I remembered the ingredients when I went to Trader Joe’s on Sunday!

It came out looking so great! It was pretty easy to make too.

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I also tried baking real bread for the first time ever. I’ve made a lot of quick breads, beer bread and Irish soda bread before, but have never tried a real crusty bread before. I had this recipe pinned for a YEAR, and finally got around to trying it. I tweaked it a bit–I used 2 cups of whole wheat bread flour and 1 cup of white flour vs. the 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour. I just switched it because I found whole wheat bread flour in the bulk section of the Healthy Living Market. I also swapped maple syrup for molasses since I didn’t have any molasses on hand.

It seemed easy enough–just had to make time for it to rise (12 hours + 2 hours for a second rise). I may have cheated a little bit. I also didn’t want to be putting bread in the oven at 11pm. Plus, it didn’t look like my dough was rising all that much?

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It ended up getting nice and crusty. But I realized I had the oven shelf too close to the bottom of the oven, and the bottom got a bit too dark.

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It still tasted delicious, though! I will definitely be making it again. I’d really like to do more bread baking since its pretty easy when you follow the steps!

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Quinoa and Tomato Cheese Casserole

It’s been ages since I’ve posted a recipe, but Sunday night I made a meal for the week, and it ended up being a delicious qunioa casserole worth sharing. I like making them because they last the week and reheat well for lunches. Quinoa is also great because its healthy and full of protein. I didn’t have any other vegetables on hand so I made it with a can of diced tomatoes and it turned out great! I also used havarti cheese, which we had a lot of since we used it on a pizza last weekend. The cheese was hard to shred since it was so soft, but I managed it! I was surprised how much I liked it. This recipe was inspired by this spinach quinoa casserole, but I made some changes and left out a bunch of ingredients that I felt it didn’t really need, that I didn’t have on hand.

Quinoa & Tomato Cheese Casserole

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp ground pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 can diced tomatoes, no sodium

2.5 cups of vegetable broth

1.5 cups of quinoa

2 cups havarti cheese (or mozzarella), shredded

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375*.

Heat onion, garlic, pepper and olive oil in medium sauce pan for about 5 minutes. Pour in can of diced tomatoes and cook until mixture is simmering. Pour in vegetable broth and bring to boil. Add in the quinoa and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked.

Mix in havarti cheese until melted, and then add quinoa to a 9×13 baking dish. Top with cheddar. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Giovanni Rana Fresh Pastas and Sauces

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to try some new-to-me pastas. What perfect timing, because with marathon training starting, you know I’m going to need those carbs for my long runs! Giovanni Rana sent me some of their fresh Italian pastas and raviolis along with some ready-made sauces to try out and review on the blog. These pastas are finally available in the Capital Region, you can find them at the Albany ShopRite and Price Chopper.

They have tons of different pastas to choose from-fettuccine, spaghetti, gnocci, lasagna sheets, tortellini, as well as all types of ravioli. They have a lot of flavors I’ve never seen before, like artichoke, spinach and ricotta, chicken rosemary, mushroom and of course–cheese! Made with quality ingredients straight from Italy, I was excited to try these pastas. The other night I was craving some, so I prepared the artichoke ravioli.

Cooking it was so easy–just boil water and it cooks in four minutes. Its a great meal option of someone like me with a busy schedule!

I also sautéed up some kale to have with it to make sure I’d get some veggies in with my meal.

The ravioli was amazing! It tasted like something from an Italian restaurant. The filling was cheesy, delicious and creamy. I was impressed. I was kind of expecting it to taste like other frozen pastas, but it actually tasted fresh.

The other night we had some friends over, so I made the spinach and ricotta ravioli for dinner. I also used the Giovanni Rana fresh pesto sauce with it.

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It came out great! The pasta, with the pesto, was perfect. It was some of the best ravioli I’d ever had. I’m not just saying that. Even our guests loved it. I don’t usually splurge on pesto, but this was a treat. Very good.

Disclaimer: Giovanni Pastas sent me their pasta and sauce to try free of charge to review on the blog, all opinions are strictly my own.

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