We’re all watching our weight. My family and I have been eating like hippies for some time, now. We’re so granola. But have you noticed how scary it is to read labels? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the Nutrition Facts label on something healthy I’ve been eating and feeding to my family for months only to find out that it wasn’t really any better for us than a Big Mac and large fries. So disappointing. Seemingly healthy food can be very deceiving. Just when I’m patting myself on the back for having made such a healthy choice, reading the label often throws a wet blanket on my enthusiasm. Not sure what I mean? Ever read the label on the whole wheat bread you buy? How about the tortilla chips you chose over the Sour Cream and Onion Lays? I stood in the grocery aisle comparing the nutritional information between regular saltine crackers and whole wheat saltines of the same brand. One would assume the whole wheat version would be an improvement in terms of health. And one would be wrong. They had IDENTICAL nutrition info. How about Wheat Thins? Sorry, just a lot of processed carbs- you might as well eat Doritos.
But, it’s a learning process, and we are weeding our way through the confusion and are determined to make good choices.
One thing I’ve realized is that pre-packaged store-bought foods that seem like a healthy alternative rarely are. I gave up on my go-to lunch item: MorningStar Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers. Although the stats they tout regarding the calorie and fat difference between their burgers and the average beef burger are true, I had to sign off on eating and feeding my family ingredients that shouldn’t really be classified as “food.” Ever notice “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” on an ingredient list? Well, it’s in a lot of things, and you need to know what it is. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) is soy, wheat, or corn that has been boiled in HYDROCHLORIC ACID and then neutralized using SODIUM HYDROXIDE. Yum. A similar process provides us with another ingredient in MorningStar black bean burgers: autolyzed yeast extract. And what meal wouldn’t be complete without a dose of textured vegetable protein (the main ingredient, which is actually filler, attained by another unnatural process), xanthan gum, disodium inosinate and artificial flavors?
After giving up pink slim or anything containing it for my family (mechanically separated chicken, if you’re unfamiliar, please Google it) months ago, I have determined to also give up hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is the pink slime of the vegetarian world.
You may not be as concerned about such things, and that’s ok. But regardless of your stance on chemically processed and concentrated vegetable protein, I have a recipe that will please meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. It’s super easy and you can whip it up in minutes. My Spicy Black Bean Burgers are a winner. Filling, fresh, made from whole foods, and low-cal/low-fat, to boot!
Give these a try and tell me you don’t love them. Challenge extended.
“Me, personally? I loved them! I could eat them everyday for 2 days.”
Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans, put in medium bowl. Dice 1/4 red onion, 2 green onions, 1/4 bell pepper, 1 fistful cilantro leaves and add to bowl. Add 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, and 1/2 tsp all seasonings shown, or according to your taste. (I make mine pretty salty, so add less than 1/2 tsp each if salty ain’t your thang.) If you don’t have one of these seasonings, pretend it isn’t on the list, it won’t hurt to omit something. Mash with a fork and form into 5 patties. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side in a non-stick skillet on med/high heat, no need for added oil. Dress a whole grain bun (I used Brownberry SELECT Wheat Sandwich Rolls)with cilantro leaves and red onion, (avocado slices or guacamole would be fantastic, too, but my avocados weren’t ripe!)
I like to eat 1 (or 2!) and freeze the other 3 between layers of wax paper in a ziplock to use for a quick lunch for the next couple of days. They are DELICIOUS! Nothing hydrolyzed, autolyzed or “textured” in these. Ready in minutes, no food processor required. You’ll be hooked. Full of flavor and super-healthy. My nutrition facts include the bun, by the way!
Let me know what you think! Happy cooking….