Food

A Veggie Burger for the Whole Family

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.)

  1. R says...

    On the menu next week!

  2. M says...

    On next weekends menu!

  3. Cydney says...

    Has anyone made these and frozen them? Did you freeze before or after cooking? How do they hold up?

  4. SK says...

    Green Kitchen Stories is a fantastic site for vegetarian and vegan recipes. They have cookbooks (their latest is Little Green Kitchen – recipes for children), videos, the blog, and an app. And Elsa (then aged 6) doing the broccoli dance!
    https://greenkitchenstories.com/vegetable-flatbreads/

  5. Look really good. Simple but gold.

  6. Meg says...

    Yum!!! Can’t wait to whip this up! What can be an egg replacement for those who are vegan?

    • Jennifer says...

      I use ground flax seeds instead of eggs in recipes. One tbsp of ground flax mixed with three tbsp of water = one egg. :)

  7. Kayla Avenell says...

    We just watched The Game Changers on Netflix – definitely a compelling argument for a plant-based lifestyle! Highly recommend!

  8. Erin says...

    We eat a lot of gardenburgers at my house, the original flavor. My kids like them. Recommending in case anyone else here falls into the camp of “wants to eat veggie burgers but is mostly too lazy and/or busy to make the patties from scratch.” ;)

  9. Meric says...

    Thank you very much for this recipe.
    As my husband can’t eat eggs, could you please tell me how we can replace egg? Or can we omit it? Thank you

  10. Sara says...

    My favorite super easy veggie burger is this one from Mark Bittman:
    ttps://www.markbittman.com/recipes-1/the-simplest-bean-burgers

    We use black beans and smoked paprika. No sauteing anything beforehand and naturally gluten free and vegan. My kiddos (5 & 7) really enjoyed too!

  11. Emily says...

    Does anyone know what could sub for the flaxmeal in this recipe? thanks!

    • Kate the Great says...

      I would like to know as well. I have never encountered this ingredient in my grocery store.

    • Em says...

      this is a late reply, but I found it at trader joes!

  12. Vera says...

    Sounds yummy! My daughters loathe mushrooms (and they are 11 and 13, so there is no masking). Any idea what I can replace them with…? Zucchini maybe?

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Vera – My kids loathe mushrooms as well, but they LOVED these burgers. (The key — at least initially — is to not tell them you even used mushrooms.) The patties don’t taste mushroomy at all, but they lend a meaty, earthy depth that make these as addictive as they are. I would try to make them without swapping out if you think the family is up for it!

    • MW says...

      Worth a shot, as long as you dry out that zucchini first.

    • Roxana says...

      Thank you for this! My kids hate mushrooms, too : (, so I was wondering whether they were “masked” in this recipe. I’m going to go for it with mushrooms. This recipe sounds really delicious!

    • Angel says...

      My kid and husband hate mushrooms. I made meatballs with mushroom blitzed into tiny bits and they happily ate the meatballs. I haven’t made this burger, but I wonder if the mushrooms are small enough they might not notice.

  13. jeannie says...

    This made me laugh: “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…” Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Jenna says...

      Me too. Those are my exact resolutions. haha.

  14. Marie says...

    Sounds delicious !! And this for sure looks like a good new series on your blog to look forward to ! …..only, after reading the post about meat and this first post in the veggie direction, I’m a bit astonished that avocados still seem to be on the list of every vegetarian recipe. Avocado rarely are of ecological production, on most farms its a brutal waist of water with consequences for the villages in areas because of it. I agree that avocado is a delicious topping – but if we wanna change our meals for the better, maybe it’s not just the meat we have to consider.

  15. Awads says...

    i have always hated the idea of “masking” or “hiding” vegetables. you aren’t teaching anything, but deception (looking at you, jessica seinfeld). kids will catch on to that pretty quickly and then never trust you again. Just relax and take it slowly. If they only eat one vegetable, keep serving that one, with another one nearby. We found that our son would often eat something new without even realizing it because it had been on his plate so often.

    But thanks for the veggie burger recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

    • E says...

      Yes, agree. We blend foods in, but always telling our kids. Like, “now we put a handful of spinach into the smoothie,” etc. Gets some veggies into them even if they won’t eat them straight, but gets them used to touching them, the idea of them as an ingredient, too.
      My sense here isn’t that she’s hiding the veg or deceiving the kids, but offering them in a less objectionable form.

  16. Gigi says...

    I love Sara’s blog and books for her delicious, nutritious, creative (yet simple) and accessible recipes and intimate writing style. Thanks for featuring her. I’ve made her zucchini muffins so many times!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I’d read a book called “the lazy vegetarian!” :)

  17. KT says...

    I love the Sprouted Kitchen cooking club and Bowl + Spoon cookbook. Her flavors are our favorites with lots of veggies, beans, tahini, garlic and parsley! So much lemon! I now buy 3 and 4 lemons at a time to have on hand. I love how her cooking club incorporates more “common” home ingredients than not, so you don’t have to buy half the store to make a recipe.

  18. I don’t have kids, but I can’t wait to try this veggie burger and to have it on hand for easy lunches since I work from home. Thanks Sara and Cup of Jo!

    • CB says...

      Vegan chef here. Please stop calling things a “veggie burger” when you put animal products in it. Just looking at the ingredients, I can safely say that you could omit the egg. The recipe already has flax meal which is a common egg replacer in recipes like this one. Just mix the flax meal with a tablespoon of water in a bowl and let it sit for about 3 minutes before adding it to the food processor with the other ingredients. Without making the recipe, I would bet it will be indistinguishable from how the recipe is written, other than the fact that it will now be cholesterol free and much better for you.

    • Karen says...

      Egg-lover and mostly-plants-eater here. I admire those who are vegan for ethical reasons, but, CB, please take a word of friendly advice from an ally: a judgmental tone can really put people off, even those who may one day be persuaded to become vegan themselves someday. It makes perfect sense to call something a veggie burger if it’s mostly made out of veggies; no one is calling this a vegan burger. How about applauding this featured recipe of a non-meat burger? As for the claim that an egg-free burger is healthier than one with eggs: that’s up for debate. Eggs are dense with protein and are actually good for you. And they are delicious. Thank you, Cup of Jo, for this recipe — I look forward to more mostly-plants recipes!

  19. This recipe looks delicious! If anyone struggles with picky eaters, I HIGHLY recommend this book:

    It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating

    It changed my life. Totally research based, the gist of which boils down to incorporating a variety of healthy options and then completely relaxing around meal times. We want to avoid power struggles and have the dinner table be an enjoyable experience for all. A+++

  20. elle says...

    This looks great. So nice to find a veggie burger recipe that holds together well, but also has good ingredients. One note: the top of the recipe says “Makes 6 patties” and at the bottom it says “Form the dough into about 5 small patties”.

  21. mj says...

    I bought little sprouts and have been loving it! super fan of sara’s, her recipes are so approachable and tastes so darn good!!

    • sarah says...

      Trying this one tonight, thanks for the link!

  22. Michelle Rafiq says...

    Oh this is a great idea! Can you add this as a regular feature to COJ or maybe readers can give other ideas on how they are creative with vegetables and healthy eating for their kiddos?

  23. Melanie says...

    One of my main obstacles in switching to a vegetarian diet is that I’m allergic to mushrooms, which is such a staple!

    • Joaquina says...

      Not really. I am a 12 year vegan and rarely eat mushrooms. If you wanna find an excuse to not make the switch, you can find one. Lentils, chickpeas, beans, quinoa, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, tofu, frozen veggies…Options for healthful, cruelty-free, less carbon footprint, economical, options abound!

    • Gill F. says...

      I’m a vegan and absolutely hate mushrooms. I avoid those little dudes like the plague and eat very well :)

  24. Kim says...

    I’m so glad you’re featuring this concept.

    Could I recommend and heartily ask that you get in touch with @kidseatincolor on Instagram? She is amazing and works so hard and I know an endorsement or feature from you would really help build her base. I’ve personally mentioned her in the comments section many times, and have seen others do it too. She a licensed nutritionist (I think, might have the wording wrong) and is just amazing at helping picky eaters (and not) eat more vegetables and without fixating on body shapes! She’s also super down to earth and relatable.

    • Bonnie says...

      Good suggestion! I have checked her out for ideas with my toddler grandson, who is a healthy eater, but just for fun ideas to keep things interesting for him!

    • Anna says...

      Agreed! She has just the right tone.

    • Katy says...

      Thank you! I started following her based on a comment on here and she is fantastic!!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      that’s a cool feed, thanks for recommending!

    • AMO says...

      Yes to a Cup of Jo and Kids Eat in Color collaboration! She has been so helpful in our process of figuring out to feed our toddler.

  25. Darcy says...

    The kids next door actually prefer Field Roast veg hot dogs bc they like the taste better than regular ones. The kids aren’t vegan or anything. Just like ’em better.

    Though the egg helps, homemade veggie burgers are famous for breaking apart. If that becomes problematic, there are so many gooood plant-based burgers in the store and they provide lots of protein. Try: Field Roast, Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat, others. All are good.

    Chao cheese on top to make a cheezeburger = also tasty.

    • Courtney says...

      I LOVE how Sara’s recipes always include a vegetable but in the MOST delicious way. Found her cooking club in your comments section and have not looked back. I feel like such a better cook because of her.

  26. Ren says...

    Love this and love that you are featuring this idea! xoxo

  27. Jenna C says...

    Sara’s recipes are a favorite of mine, I feel like her blog is what really got me into cooking 7 years ago. Always thrilled to see her featured here!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      She’s the best! I love her zucchini muffins.

  28. liz says...

    adding this to my list of things to try to make!

  29. Quinn says...

    That cover photo! =D

  30. Jill says...

    Thank you! This actually looks fantastic! I’m doing it!
    BRAVO!

  31. amy says...

    looks delicious!