Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Veggie Burgers in the News

in_the_news
Thanks to an anonymous commenter who alerted me to the news that White Castle is now offering veggie sliders on its menu at some locations!

Although I have seen the film Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, I have never actually set foot inside a White Castle. But maybe I will have to change that soon, to try out these new sliders - which are made with Dr. Praegers veggie patties (no word on whether they are vegan or not, some of Dr. Praegers products are vegan while others are not). Supposedly they are only available for a limited time, as the fast food chain is just testing them out as a menu item - but hopefully they will realize the importance/benefit of offering vegetarian options, and make it a permanent menu item!

Has anyone tried these sliders yet? What did you think?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Veggie Burgers in the news - event in NYC

My friend Maria sent me this link as a heads-up to an exciting veggie burger event happening in NYC this Sunday:
Brooks Headley Has Created the Next-level Veggie Burger (via GrubStreet)

I don't know if I'll be able to attend, so if you are in NYC and you end up going, please let me know how it is!!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Made By Lukas Beet Veggie Burgers

The other day I spotted something new in the refrigerated vegetarian/vegan section of Whole Foods:

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I’ve tried a lot of refrigerated and frozen veggie burgers, and even veggie burgers made from a dry powdered mix before – but I’ve never tried veggie burgers made from a refrigerated vegetable mix, so I was excited to add this Made By Lukas beet vegetable burger mix to my shopping basket.

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The instructions said simply to “shape into 4 patties” – I was only cooking for myself, so I just made one (planning to eat the others in the next couple days, or shape them and freeze them if I need to keep them for longer). Wary of how the fresh beets might stain my hands, I wore latex gloves for this part.

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If you didn’t know that was a vegan mixture of beets, cabbage, quinoa, and sunflower seeds, wouldn’t you think it kind of looks like raw meat?

The mix is very soft, but once it fried for a few minutes on one side it was not difficult to keep it in one piece when I flipped it over with a spatula. I let it cook the full 4-6 minutes per side that the instructions recommended, but even fully cooked it was still quite soft.

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Beets are one of what I consider the secret ingredients for a great veggie burger – they add color that fools even meat-eaters, and they have a great hearty flavor.

That said, I also enjoy beets on their own and in various other recipes. But unlike other veggie burgers I’ve had in the past which contain this great ingredient in smaller amounts, the beet flavor is VERY prominent and unavoidable in these burgers. So while I’ve urged beet-haters to try other veggie burgers despite their misgivings about the bright red-pink ingredient, I would caution only beet-lovers to sample these ones! Beets are not the only ingredient, but they are the most prominent flavor.

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For beet-lovers, though, the taste of these patties is quite delicious! The only topping I put on my burger was a tiny bit of mayo, but I probably could have even done without that because the patty was so moist and flavorful on its own - and quite hearty and filling.

But eating it felt more like eating a vegan Sloppy-Joe than a burger. The patty was so soft, even after being fried on both sides, that it just mushed in my mouth like a shredded beet salad on a bun. The bun held it all inside okay, but the patty would not have kept its shape at all on its own. It was tasty, without a doubt, but quite a different experience from eating a “normal” veggie burger.

The Whole Foods location where I found this mix also had a carrot-parsnip flavor, which I was tempted by (because I love parsnips and think they are a very underrated vegetable!) – and the Made By Lukas website shows that they also offer a kale flavor, which is probably equally delicious. And they’re all completely vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free! This is probably the closest you can get to home-made without taking the time to measure and mix all those ingredients together on your own - so it's a great quick and easy option for a meal.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Made By Lukas
purchased at: Whole Foods in NYC (Bowery location)
price: $7.99 per container (makes 4 burgers)

YumVeggieBurger review #139

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sugo’s Beach Buns & Bites at Long Beach's Shoregasboard

Last weekend we took the Long Island Railroad out to Long Beach for a day of relaxation on the beach. The water was freezing cold, so I didn’t swim for more than a few minutes, but just lying on the sand by the ocean was lovely.

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It had been a couple years since I was last at Long Beach; I don’t go there as often as I go to Rockaway Beach, so I had no idea what food options would await us. Luckily, we found Shoregasboard - a parking lot of food trucks right off of the boardwalk. And luckily, I found a veggie burger:

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At first I was disappointed to see that Sugo’s Beach Buns & Bites did not have a vegetarian taco option (what the heck?), but I was mollified to see a veggie burger listed on the menu along with all their meat-burgers and hotdogs. The friendly food truck’s staff informed me that the patty was vegan, but the bun was not (and the burger comes with cheese by default, so ask for it without if you don’t eat dairy!).

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After several hours out in the hot sun, I was starving, so I dug right into this burger – even though it had slices of Portobello mushrooms on top, and I’m normally not a mushroom fan (Portobello can occasionally be the exception to this rule for me, though). The patty was decent, it was obviously some brand of frozen burger patty, with large chunks of vegetables (including a lot of carrots, most notably). The flavor was pretty mild, nothing spectacular.

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The arugula and Portobello slices gave the burger a little bit more substance and flavor, but it still felt small and flat, and for $8 I would have liked a bit more in the way of toppings! There was some kind of slightly spicy sauce as well – although there wasn’t enough of it to keep the whole burger from tasting a bit dry (I suppose normally the cheese helps with that, if you order it with the cheese). The bun was just average.

It wasn’t the most amazing burger (or the most filling – I was still hungry after!) I’ve ever eaten, but I was grateful that there was a vegetarian option available. I do seem to find veggie burgers wherever I go… I wasn’t even planning on reviewing one this day, but as soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew what my next blog post would be!

Cost: $8.00
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 2       Bun: 3      Toppings: 2

Sugo’s Beach Buns & Bites
parked at Shoregasboard at Long Beach
Riverside Blvd at the boardwalk
Long Beach, NY 11561

YumVeggieBurger review #138

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

I apologize in advance if this post makes you jealous...

Once upon a time, I said that my lovely neighborhood of Astoria, Queens would be absolutely perfect if we could just get a pizzeria that served vegan pizza, and an ice cream shop that sold scoops of vegan ice cream. Well, we now have delicious vegan pizza options at Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana. And as of earlier this month, we now have vegan ice cream too:

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Sweet Jane's Frozen Desserts just opened a few weeks ago, but I have already stopped by many times. They have regular dairy-ice cream as well as dairy-free flavors - all homemade and organic!

Check out this menu, dairy-free options on the right-hand side:

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Amazing, right?

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A sampling of the dairy-free flavors I have tried so far, from left to right:
Gingerbread, Chai, Chocolate Raspberry, Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, and Strawberry. All delicious!

And the best part: This ice cream shop is just a couple blocks from my apartment. I can walk there in less than three minutes!
Complete dream come true. I have every intention of stopping by ice cream at least twice a week for the rest of the summer. And you should come check it out too!

Sweet Jane's Frozen Desserts
27-17 24th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105
347.507.0456

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday to YumVeggieBurger!

p.s. Today is the blog's 4th birthday!

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Happy Birthday, Blog!

Sweet Earth Natural Foods Teriyaki Veggie Burger

I picked these up on a whim the last time I was at Whole Foods – because they were right next to the Field Roast sausages, so I assumed they would be delicious by association.

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And since my roommates and I had a barbecue out on our patio last weekend, it was the perfect chance to try them out.

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Those are not real grill marks – if you look at the prevous photo, you’ll see that the burgers come with painted-on grill marks. But these vegan, grain-based patties did cook up pretty well on the grill! They are quite firm, and held together just fine. Even flipping them over wasn’t an issue (although I brushed a little olive oil on them just to prevent sticking).

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They got a little bit dried out on the grill, but they were pretty dense to begin with anyway. Neither the soft, crumbly texture of homemade veggie burgers, nor the stringy faux-meat texture of some store-bought patties, these burgers were actually more like the texture of vegan sausages.

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The teriyaki flavor was nice, not overly sweet or spicy, but a pleasant taste. I didn’t want to mask it with too many condiments, but since the patty and bun were kind of dry on their own I added some guacamole and greens. One of my roommates is also a vegetarian, so she ate the other patty that came in the package of two, and proclaimed it quite tasty as well.

Although the teriyaki burger was the only flavor that Whole Foods had when I was shopping, I looked on Sweet Earth Natural Foods’ website and saw that they also make a santa-fe veggie burger and a za’atar flavored veggie burger. I love za’atar seasoning, so I will definitely try that one if I ever find it locally! They also make a bunch of flavored seitans, which I have not noticed in stores yet but I would be curious to try as well.

Has anyone else tried this brand? What flavors, and what did you think of it?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Sweet Earth Natural Foods
purchased at: Whole Foods in NYC (Bowery location)
price: for $4.99 for a package of 2 patties
YumVeggieBurger review #137

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Williams & Bailey

I stopped in at Williams & Bailey by chance one Saturday afternoon, because they seemed to be one of the few places in Williamsburg that didn’t have a line out the door for brunch. Seeing that they had a veggie burger on their menu sealed the deal.

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The vegan veggie burger is offered on both the brunch and dinner menus – one of the few vegetarian or vegan offerings here, but it’s a good one.

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The patty is made of brown rice, black beans, oatmeal, beets, and herbs. Rice seemed to be the primary ingredient, or at least the one I noticed the most while eating it. It was almost more like a rice patty than a veggie patty, and was fried lightly on both sides. Although it did not hold together too well, and fell apart quite a bit as I ate it, it tasted great. The flavor was really unique, I could not put my finger on what spice or seasoning it was, but it was exceptionally delicious.

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The toppings could have been a bit more creative – simple lettuce, tomato, and white onion (does anyone actually enjoy raw white onion? I sure don’t). But the bun was wonderful – sweet, light, and just slightly toasted. My favorite kind of bun.

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As I ate at the bar, I stared at the impressive whiskey selection. This would be a good place to return for an evening drink. As long as you don’t mind the hipstery decorations:

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Cost: $9.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 5      Toppings: 2

Williams & Bailey
507 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718.782.3500

YumVeggieBurger review #136

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Little Green Black Bean Veggie Burger

I finally fired up the barbecue grill this past weekend, for the first time this year – and, of course, my friend Michelle and I grilled veggie burgers to celebrate.

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I had picked up these burgers at Whole Foods when I saw that they were on sale, although at the regular price of $5.99 for a box only containing two patties, I would have normally deemed them overpriced for frozen veggie burgers.

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They are vegan, and the ingredient list is full of familiar, healthy things. I had no idea how well the patties would do on the grill, but I brushed them with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking, and laid them out over the flames.

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To my delight, they grilled up quite well, and were never in danger of falling apart as I flipped them! They did look a little bit dry by the time I took them off the grill, but we ate them with fresh spinach, tomato, and mayo on whole wheat buns, so any dryness from the grill was compensated for by those toppings.

Michelle remarked how pleasantly spicy the patties were – they had a nice, bold flavor (but would still not be too spicy for someone who does not care for spicy foods). I was quite impressed too: although they had come from the frozen foods aisle, these patties could have almost passed for homemade once they were cooked. They held together well and did not fall apart as we ate them, but they were not the dreaded “hockey pucks” either. The texture was just right. And mixed in with the black beans were large chunks of peppers and other vegetables, giving it even more of a homemade feel. The box actually calls them "handcrafted" black bean burgers, and I can see why!

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Although they are not the most economical choice of frozen burger patties, they were so delicious that I would definitely consider trying some of the other Little Green veggie burger varieties - or treating myself to these black bean ones again if I feel like splurging for a special barbecue party!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Little Green Handcrafted Black Bean Burgers
purchased at: Whole Foods in NYC (Bowery location)
price: on sale 2 for $8, regularly $5.99 per box (2 patties per box)

YumVeggieBurger review #135

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

Vegan Mac & Cheese Balls.
Yup, you read that correctly. Crispy, deep-fried balls of vegan mac & cheesey goodness!

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AMAZING.

My friend Michelle and I have been on the hunt for our new go-to vegan comfort food spot, ever since Foodswings (R.I.P.!) closed.  We had eaten at the Wiliamsburg B.A.D. Burger location before - and I even reviewed one of their veggie burgers a couple years ago (here's the link to that review, although the beet burger is no longer on their menu now - but they have two other veggie burgers, which I should go back and try soon!). B.A.D. Burger's menu is awesome, because almost anything on it can be made vegan upon request. I had a hard time believing this when I saw the mac and cheese balls on the menu - but sure enough, the waitress assured me they could be made vegan!

And wow, there is nothing healthy or good-for-you about these deep-fried appetizers, but they were so worth it! We also ordered fried avocado slices and vegan chicken fingers, which were all equally amazing, but the mac & cheese balls totally stole the show.

B.A.D. Burger
171 Avenue A
between 10th & 11th Street
New York, NY 10009
212.477.7727
Second location in Williamsburg – check website for address

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Peekskill Brewery

This past Memorial Day weekend, I stayed in town and took a couple day trips out of the city instead of going away for the whole weekend. One of those day trips was an excursion to Blue Mountain Reservation, in Peekskill, NY.

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I spent several hours exploring the hiking trails – they weren’t terribly strenuous and did not involve enough elevation gain to provide many scenic views, but they were pleasant (aside from the numerous mosquitos!). The reservation is only a couple of miles from the Peekskill train station, and an easy walk if you (like me) do not have a car but want to get out of the city for the day!

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And after an afternoon of hiking, a pint (or cocktail, if you’re also like me and do not drink beer) and a meal at the Peekskill Brewery is the perfect end to the day.

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Especially since their menu includes a vegetarian falafel burger (the patty is vegan, but the bun is made with milk, and the toppings include dairy-yogurt).

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The bun was delicious – soft and fresh, slightly sweet, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was so flakey and fresh that I wondered if it was possibly even homemade.

The lettuce and quick-pickles were nice and crisp, a very smart and refreshing choice to go with the heartier, fried falafel patty. The menu said the toppings also included yogurt and harrisa sauce, but I honestly did not notice any yogurt, unless it was completely soaked into the bun by the time the burger arrived at our table. The spiciness of the harrisa was mild and not too noticeable, but was a subtle hint of flavoring.

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The patty was not as dry as I had feared (I’ve had some less-than-stellar experiences with falafel patties in the past). Definitely house-made, it had a nice, moist consistency on the inside; and the outside was fried to a crunchy crisp. The whole thing held together very well and did not fall apart as I ate it. But for some reason the falafel mixture (a nice blend of mashed and still-whole chickpeas) had far too many chunks of still-mostly-raw white onions in it, giving the patty an overly-strong onion flavor.

Service was very slow (it took the waitress awhile to even take our orders), and the prices were comparable with NYC (I suppose they get a lot of people coming up from the city on the train, so they can get away with charging city prices for the food and drinks). But having good drinks and food after a day out hiking in the sun is such a satisfying feeling, and I would definitely return again if I’m ever back up in Peekskill.

Cost: $14.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

Peekskill Brewery
47-53 South Water Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
914.734.2337

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YumVeggieBurger review #134

Friday, May 23, 2014

Best Veggie Burgers for Grilling on the Barbecue Grill

Sometimes the best-tasting veggie burgers are just too mushy and crumbly to cook on a barbecue grill. I love those burgers when I'm cooking them on the stovetop or when they are served to me at a restaurant! But I also love to use my barbecue grill. I've learned from trial and error that some veggie patties are just too soft to grill - and will fall to pieces and land in the coals if you aren't careful!

So what veggie burgers should you consider buying if you are hosting or invited to a barbecue this Memorial Day Weekend? Here's a list of the brands I have bought in the past that seemed to hold together well enough to throw on the grill:

Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle Burgers
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Vegan.
These are one of my favorites for grilling - I'm a big fan of black bean burgers, and the spicy southwest flavor is great. If someone told me veggie burgers were bland and tasteless, I'd definitely offer them one of these to change their mind.

Amy's California Veggie Burgers
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Vegan.
A very healthy-tasting patty with a savory, nutty flavor (the ingredients include walnuts).

Quorn Vegan Burgers
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Vegan. Soy-free.
These have a faux-meat texture, but don't try to imitate the taste of beef (thankfully). Held up well on the grill, just don't overcook them!

Morningstar Farms Asian Veggie Patties
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Contain eggs and diary.
I don't know why I haven't reviewed more Morningstar patties (add that to my to-do list), but honestly all of their flavors would probably hold up well on the grill - they have a firm, faux-meat texture. These ones had a nice sweet-and-sour flavor, but if you are looking for a more traditional flavor they have a variety to choose from.

Don Lee Farms All Natural Veggie Patties
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Vegan.
I haven't been to Costco in awhile (don't have a car, so haven't felt it would be worth it to buy a membership) but a couple years ago a friend of mine had a membership and I bought this huge pack of 14 patties - which were actually quite tasty! Definitely the most economical veggie burger option out there, they're full of chopped up vegetables, not faux-meat. Just be gentle flipping them on the grill, as they can get a little soft, but they still hold together well enough if you are careful.

Gardein Beefless Burgers
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Vegan.
These come the closest to imitating "real burgers", in terms of look and texture, of all veggie patties that I have tried so far. I found the flavor a little bland, but I know lots of other people enjoy them. Plus, half the fun of making burgers is piling on the flavorful toppings, right?

Courage Burgers
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Vegan.
Courage Burgers are a bit different from the other patties listed here - they taste more like faux-chicken than faux-beef, but I liked the flavor - so if you're more in the mood for something reminiscent of chicken, these could be a good choice. And although I did not cook them on a grill myself, they certainly appeared sturdy enough to handle such a cooking method - and the packaging said "grilling is highly recommended"! (as always, just be careful not to overcook since veggie burgers dry out quickly on the grill!)

Will you be barbecuing for Memorial Day Weekend? What are you planning to cook on the grill?