Veggie Burgers: How They Stack Up

Are veggie burgers really meatless? Yes, it is exactly as the name suggests—no meat. Yet in the eyes of many meat lovers, comparing the taste and texture of veggie burgers just does not stack up to its meat counterpart. While some are made to mimic the taste, texture color and feel of meat burgers, veggie burgers aren’t just a meat substitute. Veggie burgers are available for those who may not like the taste of meat (but still want something hearty and healthy), have dietary restrictions, share different beliefs or simply just prefer the flavor and ingredients that make veggie burgers stand on its own.

Veggie Burgers

Gone are the days when veggie burgers were the lonesome, meatless option at a backyard barbecue. With the rise in vegetarianism and veganism in recent years, came an increase in consumer demand for more veggie burgers. In turn, the market for veggie burgers has also become widespread. They have successfully made their way on to fast-food menus like Burger King and McDonald’s and are even served by upscale restaurants.

For many vegetarians/vegans, people who are watching their intake of saturated fats or simply prefer the taste of it over a beef or turkey burger, veggie burgers can be a great option! However, if you have ever tried a veggie burger and are still eating veggie burgers today, odds are that you’ve probably tried many. There are dozens of varieties and flavors. Some are too dry or beany, too salty or contain fillers and tastes like cardboard. Then there are some that contain a long list of ingredients that you’ve never heard of before and probably can’t pronounce. On the other hand, there are those that contain less than 5 ingredients, contain wholesome ingredients like vegetables and grains like quinoa, which make it flavorful and savory. Let’s see how these meatless burgers stack up!

How These Veggie Burgers Stack Up

Veggie burgers can be quite delicious, and make for quick go-to lunches. But with so many options in the grocery aisles many are left to wonder, “Which brands are the best?” Not all patties are vegan or soy free. As some of the more familiar ones on the market are Amy’s Garden Burger, Boca, Morning Star, we thought we’d point out some of the ones that are lesser known and reason why we like them (in no particular order).

De Cantos

Vegan: Yes
Dairy, gluten and soy free
Fairly new to the market, these burgers deserve some spotlight.
Each burger contains 5 raw veggies and no fillers like wheat, gluten,
soy, dairy or added sugar. It is “meaty” in the sense that it is fulfilling,
but does not have a “meaty taste.” While the company delivers
locally in New Jersey, if you’re having trouble finding this product,
try looking at Whole Foods!

Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers

Vegan: Yes
Soy Free: No
Certified Kosher
Ingredients: Carrots, Onions, String Beans, Oat Bran, Soybeans,
Zucchini, Peas, Broccoli, Corn, Soy Flakes, Spinach, Expeller Pressed
Canola Oil, Red Peppers, Arrowroot, Corn Starch, Garlic, Corn Meal,
Salt, Parsley, Black PepperSome people prefer the taste and texture of “just vegetables” in their
veggie burgers. If that’s the case, then Dr. Praeger’s is just that. Only
downside is that it may be flimsy and may not hold up as well if you’re
throwing it in the microwave. To make sure the patty holds its shape,
it’s best prepared on a grill or flat pan.

Hilary’s Eat Well

Vegan: Yes
Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, yeast free, egg free,
and nut free.
Plus side: They’re packaged in biodegradable plastic pouches!
Ingredients: Water Millet Quinoa Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil
Spinach Onion Garlic Psyllium Husk Powder Arrowroot Sweet
Potato Real Salt Apple Cider Vinegar Sunflower Seed OilThis burger is packed with great spices and tastes close to a fresh
veggie burger. For those who are big on texture and don’t like to
be left wondering “Is this a veggie burger??” Well this one holds
its shape and has a balanced texture, not too chewy or soft.

 

Sunshine’s Organic Quarter Pound Original Veggie Burger

Vegan: Yes
Soy Free: No
Gluten free
Ingredients: Organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw
sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic spices, sea saltThis burger is rich, savory and packs a slightly nutty flavor. If you
are a fan of sunflower seeds, this is the burger for you.

Are Veggie Burgers Better for You?

When dining out, be mindful that the nutrition content of a veggie burger may vary depending on its cooking process. While the veggie patty itself may be a healthy option, as with ordering any burger at a restaurant, any fixin’s like cheese, condiments, or a side of fries alongside the bun can sometimes stack up in terms of calories and fats.

Our Favorite Veggie Burger

What’s our favorite veggie burger? Ideally, it is the one we can make ourselves!  While making veggie burgers from scratch can call for a bit of time and preparation, if you make them in big batches, you can simply freeze them and voila! You’ve got veggie burgers on the ready, made with your favorite vegetables and grains… ingredients that you yourself know and can pronounce! With a little research, you can find tons of recipes on the Internet. Or, if you want to start with an easy but homemade classic, try Portobello mushrooms. With light marinade, they can be hearty and mouthwatering.

If you haven’t found your “perfect veggie burger” and making one from scratch doesn’t sound very appetizing, don’t give up just yet! With a little patience and perhaps a lot of tastings, it’s possible to find a veggie burger that is more flavorful and delectable (if not more) as its counterpart!

A Desert Where Shopping Matters

From comparing grocery store prices to analyzing a product’s nutritional label, a weekend trip to the grocery store can turn into stressful and overwhelming task. Many of us want to eat healthier, but how can we shop for healthy foods while on a limited budget? Although price often plays a major role in influencing what we buy when we go food shopping, buying healthy foods doesn’t have to be expensive.

Many organizations are making an effort to tackle this nationwide issue by teaching nutrition education, but one organization’s unique efforts is City Harvest’s Shopping Matters, which takes place right in local grocery stores. And just like many other Americans, if money is what is keeping you from making healthy food purchases, I challenge you to think again. What if you could learn to stretch your budget, to buy and eat healthy foods? Read on to learn about the awesome efforts made by City Harvest, and the programs’ tips to get the most healthful bang for your buck.

What is Shopping Matters?

Shopping Matters is an initiative created by City Harvest in partnership with Share Our Strength. The two-hour grocery store tour is led by a qualified facilitator, who teaches the participants how to shop on a budget, read food labels, how to identify whole-grains and stretch your budget to create more than just one meal. After one hour, participants are presented with a $10 challenge to put what they’ve just learned into practice. Participants must follow specific guidelines, i.e. grain must be whole-grain bread or cereal, to buy at least one food from each food group totaling no more than $10. This part of the tour is particularly fun and exciting for the participants because it not only tests their knowledge but it offers motivation to try new foods like 2% milk rather than whole milk.

Another Kind of Desert

Can you imagine travelling 15 miles to buy a head of lettuce or some fresh fruit? Many of us are fortunate to be able to call Whole Foods or Trader Joes, our local market. With organic foods and fresh produce so readily available to us, it can be easy to forget that for many Americans, this is not the case. Imagine if the closest grocery store was too far to get to without transportation. An area where grocery stores are scarce or missing, this is called a food desert. Although there may be bodegas or take-out restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood, it would still be considered a food desert since many atimes only highly processed foods are offered. It is in these areas that poverty, obesity and health related diseases are at an all time high. City Harvest considers these factors and implements the Shopping Matters Tours in only specific neighborhoods. The tours currently take place in the following neighborhoods: 1) The South Bronx, 2) Stapleton, Staten Island 3). Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. By conducting the tours in the actual neighborhood markets like Key Foods, not only places the participants in a realistic environment, but makes the food culture relevant.

Build the Skills To Make Healthy Choices While On a Budget

A Shopping Matters Tour may not be taking place in your local market but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the tips City Harvest has to offer! Here’s the inside scoop on the skills you need to build to stretch your budget and make tasty, healthy meals for you and your family:

  • Buy Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables – Not only will your produce taste better, but during peak season fresh produce costs less.
  • Fresh, Frozen and Canned – People tend to think fresh produce is the “best” form. However, keep in mind that fresh produce often needs be used quickly and if not in season, can be expensive.  A more economical alternative is to buy frozen fruits and vegetables, which can cost less and is available year-round. If canned foods are on sale, they have a long shelf life and can be a good purchase. If opting to buy canned products, choose items without added sodium, low in fat, or 100% juice. If there is sodium in it, simply rinse off canned produce to reduce the sodium.  Surely every packaging has its pros and cons but by opening yourself up to fruits and vegetables in all their forms, in terms of prices, you’ll have more options to choose from.
  • Compare Prices – Use unit prices to find the best bang for your buck. The unit price shows ounce for ounce or pound by pound just how much you are paying for a particular item. For example, when comparing two bagged items of different sizes, it can help you identify just exactly which costs less.
  • Read Food Labels – Take a few seconds to check the serving size. If considering your family meals, this can be especially helpful in meal planning. Look at the calories, sodium and nutrients you will be getting from the product.
  • Read the Ingredients – Just because the bread is brown or says “multigrain” or even “100% wheat” doesn’t mean it is actually made with whole grain. Be a smart and saavy shopper and check for the first ingredient on the list. Some examples are: Whole wheat, bulgar, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice
  • Organic vs. Non-Organic – Some items need not be purchased organic. If you wish to purchase organic, check out this Dirty Dozen list for a better understanding of what items are better off organic and which ones you can do without. If cost is a factor however, getting your fruits and vegetables should be at the top of the list, even if its not organic.
  • Cut coupons and checkout weekly specials

Frozen Yogurt or Frozen No-gurt

Frozen Yogurt: Is your yogurt really yogurt?

Cold, sweet and creamy — If you’re like me, nothing screams “summer” more than ice cream! But under the heat of the sun, choosing a healthy, frozen treat isn’t always easy. In recent years, frozen yogurt chains have been making their way across the nation. Due to both food trends and as a health conscious society, many swap traditional ice cream for frozen yogurt as a lighter, healthier option than most traditional ice creams. Some people think that because it’s “yogurt,” it must be healthier. Well, fro-yo fans, read on to learn if this seemingly low-fat and cold snack is really healthier? Does it provide the same benefits as eating yogurt? And most of all, does your frozen yogurt actually contain well, yogurt?

Frozen Yogurt or Frozen No-gurt

Under the FDA, there is a standard of identity that defines yogurt: cultured dairy ingredients with a bacterial culture containing Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. These beneficial bacteria then convert pasteurized milk, to yogurt. For frozen yogurt products however, there is no standard of identity that exists. In other words, any cold and creamy, sweet and swirly dessert can call itself “yogurt,” without actually containing any “real” yogurt! Don’t panic just yet-some frozen yogurts actually do contain yogurt.

So if frozen yogurt products aren’t required to actually contain these live and active cultures, how do we know if our favorite frozen ice cream alternative contains yogurt or no-gurt? Well thanks to the National Yogurt Association, they have developed an Active Cultures Seal, which can help customers identify what frozen yogurt products actually contain yogurt. The NYA’s Live & Active Cultures seal on frozen yogurt product signifies that it “contains at least 10 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.” For those individuals who think they are reaping the health benefits of yogurt the Live and Active Cultures seal can help you differentiate which frozen yogurt actually contains these good-for-you active cultures.

Does your favorite brand of frozen yogurt contain yogurt? When in doubt, ask the company for the seal of approval, or check out our quick guide to see if your favorite fro-yo brand made the cut: 

 

Frozen Yogurt Brand

 

 

Contains Yogurt or No-gurt?

 

Live & Active Cultures Seal?

16 Handles

No-gurt

No

Pinkberry

Yes

Yes

Red Mango

Yes

Yes

Tasty D-Lite

No-gurt

No

TLC

No-gurt

No

 

 A “Sometimes” Food

The trending idea that frozen yogurt is “more healthy,” does have some truth to it. Ounce for ounce, frozen yogurt typically contains fewer calories, and less saturated fat than ice cream.  Plus frozen yogurt has an extra bonus; it contains the beneficial bacteria that your belly needs and loves.

Portion with Caution

Fro-yo fans should be careful with portion size, choice of toppings (ie. fruits or cookies) and amount of toppings. Be most mindful in shops where customers like you, can self-serve. Calories easily add up to the equivalent or more than traditional ice cream. The machines distort a customer’s portion control. Because it can be difficult to eyeball exactly what “1/2 cup” or “3/4 cup” looks like, we often end up buying and eating more than we think. This is mindless eating and weight gain. For those who only want a few spoonfuls of a frozen snack, opt for a kiddie cup or use my 5 second rule with the self-serve machine. (Hold machine handle down for five seconds and then lift).

Tips to Navigate the Freezer

If you are aiming for health:

  • Look for the Active Cultures Seal or do your research online.
  • Choose fresh fruit for the toppings
  • Eat real yogurt such as Greek yogurt or Better Than Whey Yogurt

If you are being mindful of your waistline:

  • Opt for places with kiddie portions or use the 5 Second Rule.
  • Opt for no toppings
  • Buy prepackaged frozen pops that are pre-portioned

If you want ice cream:

  • Eat the real thing to satisfy your cravings
  • Eat a small portion of the real thing without toppings
  • Just eat it and enjoy, but not everyday

*Whether you’re a fro-yo fan or want to try it for the first time, this week Mom Dishes It Out is giving a month’s supply of Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars to 5 lucky followers! To enter, visit Mom Dishes It Out!

What's on our "Q"?

 The Skinny on Shakes for People With Diabetes

With so many meal replacements on the market, but how do you pick
which one is best? Taste shouldn’t be the only determining factor. It can
be important to consider the sugar, carbohydrate or even protein content.11 Nutritious, Kid-Friendly Finger Foods

Who doesn’t love meatballs? Check out this easy to follow recipe made
from lean turkey breast, which helps turn this usual calorie fest into something
a bit healthier. And while your at it, make sure to check out the Mango Tango Tortillas!

Jet-Set With Your Picnic Basket! Fun Theme Ideas for Lunch

Themed picnics are a great way to incorporate entertainment, flavor, and
even education into a family outing. Add a clever theme to your picnic by
incorporating foods from another city or, better yet, from around the world!

Also in “Q”: Remember to tune in for Restaurant Week 2012 recommendations, this Wednesday AM on CBS’s W1NY!!

 

What can you get to eat on a college campus in 2011?

Campus Eats

Compiled By: Human Nutrition Student, Kate Kaczor

1. Stanford University– Who doesn’t love frozen yogurt? Stanford is home to Fraiche Yogurt. Fraiche is a homemade, organic fresh yogurt and frozen yogurt cafe, serving European-style yogurts made from local organic milk and a probiotic-focused culture. Available toppings include fresh-cut fruits, local honeys and purees, toasted nuts, homemade granola, and hand-shaved Callebaut chocolate. Stanford also has lots of vegetarian, vegan, and kosher options. A student-run farmer’s market is also located on campus.

2. Pitzer College– The Shakedown is a student run restaurant at Pitzer, which serves up only the best organic locally grown food. There also is the Pitstop cafe, which is a coffee shop in the academic quad. It has any coffee drink you could want, baked goods, and organic juices!

3. Occidental College– Occidental strives to provide its students with the most organic and local food possible. In its dining hall, Marketplace, the salad bar always carries organic choices including organic spring mix lettuce, tofu and carrots. They often incorporate organic and local ingredients into their homemade cooking. Wednesdays at dinner the Marketplace serves an Organic Baked Potato Bar including russet and sweet potatoes with organic toppings and produce from local farmers. For your sweet tooth, The Cooler, another dining location, features hand-dipped ice cream made by Fosselman’s, a local family owned business.

4. Ohio Wesleyan University– Chartwells, the company that prepares food for dining halls at Ohio Wesleyan University, offers microwaveable meals that students can take away, as well as a program called “My Pantry,” where students can have food individually prepared, or even do their own cooking. You can also get a sweet treat for your birthday at OWU. Bring your ID to the bakery on the first Monday of your birthday month and get a free cupcake!

5. St. Olaf College– St. Olaf is committed to buying locally grown foods whenever possible, including vegetables and herbs from STOGROW, their student-run organic farm, meat and poultry raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, apples from an orchard just minutes from campus and dairy products supplied by Deja Moo, a collective of Midwestern, family-owned farms. Fresh, healthy, and delicious.

6. Warren Wilson College-WWC’s Cowpie Café is a campus favorite, offering healthy and delicious vegetarian and vegan options. Much of the produce from the garden, as well as other local goodies, makes its way into Cowpie’s kitchen. Also, all beef and pork served in Glad, WWC’s all-you-can-eat dining hall, comes straight from the farm.

7. Emory University– Many campuses are beginning to offer farmers markets to their students and the surrounding community, but Emory’s is unique in that it is year-round (except for summer breaks). Emory Farmers Market features fresh, local produce, organic and sustainably produced meat, bread, cheese, honey and other artisan products. In addition to providing delicious, healthy, and convenient food choices to the Emory community, the market encourages students to interact with Georgia farmers, expand their knowledge about healthy eating and sustainable production.

8. Columbia University– Columbia also encourages students to eat locally. Local Honey from Ballards Honey (Roxbury, NY), as well a locally produced, processed and packaged strawberry jam and tomato salsa are served in John Jay Dining Hall and Ferris Booth Commons. For a fall treat, all Columbia’s apples and fresh apple cider are from Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, NY.

9. Virginia Tech University– For upscale dining on a college campus, there is no better place than VT. Their West End Market features made-to- order items prepared before the customers and offers specialties such as London broil, live Maine lobster, and steak on a daily basis.

10. Bryn Mawr College– This school has an extensive salad bar offering over 40 items made fresh daily (including hummus)! At all meals, students can also find rice and soymilk, a vegan bread selection, veggies burgers, and a variety of freshly steamed rice.

Tell us what you are eating on your campus!!!

Defy Aging with the ABC's of Youth

Defy Aging with the ABC’s of Youth

A is for anti inflammatory foods. Almonds and avocados contain monounsaturated fats that help to increase our good cholesterol, HDL. HDL functions as an anit inflammatory agent in our body!

B is for brain food. Fight aging with omega 3 fatty acids like salmon or cod liver oil. The omega 3 fatty acid known as DHA has been shown to improve memory as reported in the Chicago Health and Aging Project.

C is for cereal grains. Cereal grains like whole wheat berries, rye berries and quinoa are low glycemic grains. Prevent blood sugar and insulin peaks by choosing these grains. This can help you to decrease your risk of high insulin levels, diabetes and ultimately Alzheimer’s disease.

Move over TV dinners and say hi to this microwave meal.

It’s the end of August and we are all scrambling to get everything ready for the new school year. Sometimes meals become second priority. If you are lacking time and want something tasty, try Kashi’s Pesto Pasta Primavera. Add one half cup of beans (rec. no added salt) to this microwave meal and you have a balanced vegetarian lunch option with 18 grams of vegetarian protein and 14 grams of fiber.