Sunday, March 1, 2009

Burger Bliss

Five years ago, I announced to my mother that I would no longer be eating meat. After recovering from the surprise, she took me on a very necessary trip to the grocery store, where I bought the essential neophyte vegetarian item: the veggie burger.

They're quick, convenient, and tasty, plus they provide an easy meatless form of protein. While I no longer eat them with the same regularity as my initial days of vegetarianism, I still keep a box (or two) on hand for those times when I simply haven't the motivation nor the time to prepare an elaborate vegetarian feast. Boca was my first brand of choice, but since then I have broadened my horizons. Yes, since my early days as a veg, I have graduated to brands such Sunshine Burger, Health Is Wealth, and, of course, the mistress of veggie burger expertise, Amy.

Sunshine Burger
This past year, in the midst of summer barbecues and grill-out sessions, I was on the hunt for a new variety of veggie burger, specifically one that was both meat- and soy-free. I of course ventured to Whole Foods for the answer to my burger-prayers. After a quick jaunt down the frozen foods aisle, I found these: Sunshine burgers. Made simply with raw ground sunflower seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and a dash of sea salt, Sunshine burgers are the epitome of an all-natural burger. I love that these burgers are completely free of unnecessary ingredients.

Sunshine burgers are available in 4 varieties: Garden Herb, Original, Barbecue, and Southwest. Nutritional stats vary accordingly, but most are between 200-259 kcalories with a moderate (6-8 grams) of protein, and 12-13 grams of fat. Most varieties also provide an impressive amount of vitamin A, ranging from 50-90% of your daily RDA.

While these burgers are tasty any way you eat 'em, I recommend the old fashioned way, in a whole grain bun with your favorite toppings, such as salsa or avocado.

Feel free to eat them sans bun, as well; I regularly enjoy them this way as a fish substitute when my family is having a seafood-centered meal.

Finally, if you'd rather use your creativity, consider slicing one up as a salad component. I especially like them in combination with my homemade sweet dill dressing.

Health Is Wealth Chicken-Free Patties

As a girl raised (mostly) in the South, I've enjoyed a few Chick Fil A sandwiches in my day, and I do occasionally get a craving for a deliciously breaded patty (couldn't care less about the chicken part!). Fortunately, there is a relatively healthful alternative. While many breaded "chik" patties exist on the market today, many still contain high amounts of fat and a few questionable ingredients. Health Is Wealth, however, produces a chicken-free patty that is low in fat (1.5 grams) and breaded with whole grain bread crumbs. Plus, they're vegan--no egg whites are used to provide that breaded crust.
These can be difficult to find, although Whole Foods carries the brand; only large stores carry this particular product. Look for it at health food stores as well. If you can't find the patties, the chicken-free nuggets are just as good!

These patties also lend themselves well to the traditional whole grain bun route. My condiments of choice are a mixture of vegan mayo and mustard, even better if it's agave-mustard! For Chick-fil-A authenticity, you could throw a few pickles on top:)

Try using these in place of chicken in your favorite Chicken Parmigiana recipe. Yum.

These patties can also easily be sliced and used as a salad topper or wrap stuffing. The possibilities are endless!

Amy's Bistro Burger
If you've taken a look at the frozen food aisle lately, you've probably noticed a proliferation of products emblazoned with the notorious "Amy's Kitchen" label. Aside from her delicious burritos, pizzas, and breakfast items, Amy also produces a wide variety of burgers, made from whole grains, veggies, and soy. This particular item caught my eye due to its relatively low sodium content for a frozen food (14% RDA) and abundance of vegetables in its ingredients list.

Each patty contains 90 kcalories, 2.5 grams of fat, and a slightly disappointing 5 grams of protein. I would hope for more protein in a meat alternative. Nonetheless, these burgers provide a satisfying alternative to your regular beef burger. As a bonus, they are made from 93% organic ingredients--score!

Warning: if you do not like mushrooms, you may not like these burgers. The shroom' flavah is strong, which is just fine by my tastebuds, but others may be overwhelmed by its presence.

I like mine best with mashed avocado...

But they're pretty awesome with organic K + M as well.

Just as good in a wrap!

The Amy's website also recommends adding BBQ sauce...perhaps we should try the humbecue combo as well?

Amy's Texas Burger
Speaking of barbecue, these burgers are specifically designed to have that distinctive smoky flavor.

This variety is decidedly less 'shroom-ey and more tomato-ey. There's also some bell peppers and a kick of molasses. Tasty.

Each patty contains 120 kcalories, 2.5 grams of fat, and a respectable 12 grams of protein.

I like mine with lots of spicy salsa!
They're also pretty tasty as a salad-topper...especially with Woodstock dressing to play up that tomato goodness. Best served with some sweet potato fries!
These few burgers represent just a selection of my veggie burger samplings and an even smaller portion of those available on the market. What are your favorite meatless patties? What do you look for in a veggie burger? Let me know...I'm always searching for a new favorite:)


VeggieGirl said...


Erica said...

Great post! Especially for those of us trying to move to a more meatless lifestyle!

Marianne said...

I'm not looking to replace meat in my diet, so I can't say I look for specific things in a veggie burger other than a) it tastes good, and b) it has a decent ingredient list. Some of my favourites are Dr Praeger's California Veggie Burger and Veggie Patch Garlic Portabella Burger. I like having them on hand as something different, and quick. They really are great crumbled on a salad as you have used as well :D

Anna said...

i like veggie burgers a lot, but i don't like when they're filled with stuff i can't pronounce :-(

shelby said...

With a couple bad experiences with Boca Burgers under my belt...I was ready to swear off all storebought veggie burgers for good...until I saw this post!!!

On my to-try list now...Amy's products and Sunshine Burgers. YUMMY!

carolinebee said...

I am in LOVE with the morningstar tomato basil pizza burger! Or their garden veggie burger. Boca has always been blech for me. I do eat meat so I find these don't "try" to be meat, ya know?? I've heard sunshine burgers are the best, but i'm such a recessionista I can't get myself to spend the dollas on 4 burgers :0!! Thx for all your input!

Sarah (lovINmytummy) said...

I love the Morningstar Garden Veggie has big hunks of waterchestnuts and peapods. Crispy goodness.

Jen said...

Ive never has those before! YUM! great post girl!

Mel said...

yum, what a great review!! have you tried morningstar burgers? i really like their tomato basil pizza burger. i've never tried sunshine burgers, i'll have to be on the lookout for those!

Lauren said...

Fantastic post! I appreciate the time you took to describe each kind of veggie burger. While it's great that there are so many varieties out there, some are filled with chemicals - so there might be a Sunshine burger in my near future :) I currently have a box of Dr. Praeger's California Burgers in my freezer, which are pretty good.

I also like your creative use of veggie burgers!

thecleanveggie said...

Thank you sooo much for this post!
I too love veggie burgers.

I really hope I can find those healthy chik burgers because I miss chick - fil - a burgers :\

ksgoodeats said...

I love this post!! It's like a dream come true to me ;)

I really need to try the Health is Wealth ones - I love me some breading!

My favs are TJs Masala burger and Dr. P's = they bring the yums in my book.

ChickPea said...

VeggieGirl: I totally predicted you would comment on that...I know your foodie obsessions:)
Erica: Glad you enjoyed it!
Marianne: Yum, I'll have to give those a try, I've seen Dr. Praeger's but not Veggie Patch.
Anna: I totally agree--hence my straying away from Boca.
Shelby: There are some bad ones out there, I agree, but it just takes a little trial and error to find the tasty and nutritious ones!
CarolineBee: I've never really tried Morningstar products, but maybe I'll look into them. I agree about the Sunshine burgers--so pricey. I buy them only when on sale!
Sarah: Water chestnuts?! I'm sold.
Jen: Thanks! I hope you try them.
Mel: Those seem to be popular with you all--I've never tried them though. I'll check em out.
Lauren: Thanks! I have much experience in the veggie burger field:) I agree--the chemical free ones are so much better!
thecleanveggie: Glad you liked it! I promise the chik patties will satisfy your chick fil a cravings!
K: Wow, that's high praise--thanks!
I've seen those Masala burgers and Dr. P's before, but they seem to be kinda low on protein (which is what I use veggie burgers for). I may give them a try anyway and pair them with some beans or something.

SB Peace said...

I just picked up my 1st box of Sunshine Burgers (garden herb flava') & LOVE THEM- almost gone! However, I like them to be a bit more firm. Everytime I heat one, it's still sort of mushy. I love the short ingredient list & nutritional info!
I like less processed, hearty flava! Thanks for the reviews! I'm always fuzzy-minded when it comes to choosing one (esp. all those different Amy's Burgers, since I love my girl Amy!)

Vegan On Stage said...

I LOVE SUNSHINE BURGERS!!! they are so great... a little high in cals, but worth it...

Erin said...

I'm with you on the veggie burgers. I also always have at least one box in the freezer for when there's just no other food in the house. My standards are the boca or morningstar originals. I've had the Amy's Texas burger too, so good! Haven't had the chance to try a Sunshine burger yet, every time I see them they seem very expensive.

I just bought a new (or at least new to me) burger at TJ's today, and Indian veggie burger. If I recall correctly they are made from mostly vegetables and soy free!