A Veggie Burger for the Whole Family

We’ve talked about eating less meat and dairy. If you have a few New Year’s resolutions, and the one right before “save money” and right after “stop staring at my dumb phone all day,” is eat more plant-based meals

…we’re on the same page. This can be harder than it seems, though, especially if you have kids who might be a little particular in the vegetable department. Sara Forte, the brains behind vegetable-forward Sprouted Kitchen and wonderful cookbooks, hears you on that one. Before she had kids, Sara assumed they would love all the foods that she and her husband loved — she’s a professional, after all — and, well, you know how that story goes. “My kids, 3 and 5, cannot be persuaded with any amount of convincing nutritional information, that would lead them to choose broccoli over a hot dog,” she says in her new e-book Little Sprouts.

Little Sprouts is dedicated to getting more vegetables into kids’ bodies. She offers lots of logical tips for struggling parents — e.g., kids like smaller chunks of vegetables, romaine lettuce barely registers as a flavor or color when whirled into a smoothie, etc. — but the biggest takeaway is this: Add produce to foods your kids already enjoy. Don’t try to do too much more than that. The result is a collection of simple, approachable breakfasts, snacks, and dinners that everyone in the house will appreciate. Here’s what she says about her popular veggie burger…

A Veggie Burger for the Whole Family

From Sara: Instead of getting frustrated that your child does not get excited about a kale salad, how about we flip the script. What DO they like? And how can we add vegetables into that? My kids love meals between bread. These veggie burgers have a base of cooked sweet potatoes and rice, and while they generally don’t care for mushrooms, I can pass them through because the rice and potatoes are somewhat masking the flavor.

Sara’s Veggie Burgers
Leftovers make an awesome lunch in a lettuce wrap with some avocado and fixings
Makes 6 patties

1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and well chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 cup cooked brown rice or bulgur
2 tablespoons flaxmeal
1/4 cup oats
Generous pinch of salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 cup parsley or cilantro
1 small steamed (or leftover roasted bits) sweet potato, about 1 cup total
1 cup cooked black beans, drained well
Avocado or olive oil, for cooking

For servingBuns, avocado, cheese (optional), butter lettuce

In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms, shallot and garlic, along with a pinch of salt. Sauté for a moment, then leave it all undisturbed for a few minutes, so the mushrooms release their water. Sauté again, until browned in some parts and excess water has evaporated. Set aside to cool completely.

Into a food processor, combine the egg, tamari, rice, flaxmeal, oats, 1/2 tsp. salt, chili powder and herbs and pulse a few times to break down. Add the sweet potato, black beans, cooled mushrooms, and pulse for another minute until everything is in tiny pieces, BUT NOT PUREED! We do not want a mash; we want flecks! Set the mixture aside in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.

To cook, preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray or brush the bottom with oil. Form the dough into about 5 small patties. Spray or brush the tops with a bit of oil and bake for 20-25 minutes to set.

Assemble the sandwiches with toasted English muffins, smashed avocado, cheese, if using, butter lettuce… or just ketchup. ;)

Sprouted Kitchen's Little Sprouts

Thanks, Sara! You can find Sprouted Kitchen’s Little Sprouts on her website.

P.S. Sara’s big-batch zucchini muffins and muffin tin tapas.

(Photos by Hugh Forte.)