Vegan Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

Vegan Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

The weather is getting warmer in New York! I’m becoming so excited for summer and beach days and just the overall happy feeling I get when it’s warm out. Unfortunately, the nice days haven’t been lining up with my days off and the vegetable garden project I’ve been planning with my brother keeps getting pushed back. I have hope that we’ll be able to start it soon. 

With summer also comes delicious grilled vegetables, some of my favorite fruit(I think I can eat an entire watermelon in one sitting), and burgers. So yesterday, instead of making squash for the third time this week, I made black bean sweet potato burgers. I’ve tried them before using a different grain but ended up ruining them by accidentally dumping half a container of whole peppercorns in my batter-I thought it had the grinder on top. 

These burgers are vegan, gluten free, and oil free. They contain no flour and is made mostly from whole starches and spices. Also, they can easily be made sos free by just skipping the salt. May also happens to be #NationalBurgerMonth so why not celebrate with burgers that don’t harm any animals and are good for you, too. 

Note: These burgers work best when you make the batter ahead of time and leave it in the fridge for several hours to firm up. 



Recipe

Makes 6-8 patties
Ingredients:

2 Large Sweet potatoes cooked until soft and skinned

1  3/4 cups of cooked black beans or 1 15oz can

1 1/2 cooked brown rice (1/2 cup uncooked)

2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed + 5 tablespoons water

Juice from 1 lime

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 chopped garlic cloves or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vegan liquid smoke optional

1/2 onion optional
Directions 

Mix the flaxseed and water in a small bowl and place in the fridge for 15 minutes or until it gels to an egg-like consistency 

Add sweet potato, cilantro, and 3/4 of the black beans to a blender or mixing bowl (if you have a hand blender) and blend until creamy

Add the rice, spices, lime juice, flaxseed, and remaining black beans to the mixture and blend on a lower setting to mix everything well and break the beans and rice up a bit. Taste the batter to see if you’d like more spices, I like mine spicy so I added more chili powder. 


Cover and refrigerate for 4+ hours 

Form your batter into 6-8 patties 

 Bake, grill, or pan fry the patties until the outside is crispy. I chose to bake mine on parchment paper at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, flipping them around 35 minutes

Top your burgers with whatever you like. I had mine with fresh homemade pico de gallo, Trader Joe’s tomatoless corn salsa, lettuce, and guacamole. I didn’t eat the bun but I thought the picture might look sad without it. Let me know if you try it and what you top yours with! 

👩🏼‍🌾❤️ Heather

5 Ways Going Vegan Has Changed My Life in the Past Year

5 Ways Going Vegan Has Changed My Life in the Past Year

Today is an important day for me because one year ago I made a decision to start a journey that would forever change my life.  After watching a short video online about factory farming, I decided to cut meat out from my diet, and then eggs, dairy, and eventually fish. At the time I didn’t think I was going to be making a permanent change to my lifestyle. I didn’t even want to tell anyone about it. I thought maybe for a month I would stop eating meat until I was over the traumatizing video that I saw. Instead, I saw how positively my new diet was changing my life. I began taking out more animal products as I learned more about veganism. So now, a year later, I’m making this post that’s a little different from my normal ones and looking back at how my life has changed because of my vegan diet.

5 changes I’ve experienced from going vegan.

1. I’ve lost weight

So I wanted to start off my list with the most noticeable change in my life, to me and everyone around me. I’ve lost over 40 pounds. Throughout my entire life, I’ve always struggled with my weight. It was my biggest insecurity and something I always had trouble losing. When I was in middle school, I thought if I just ate as little as possible, I could be skinny. I would skip breakfast and toss the sandwich my mom packed me everday. On the ride home from school I would dream of what I would have for dinner. I was starving by the time dinner was ready and would binge. When I was olderI would try to lose weight by cutting out what I thought were bad foods but really had no idea what really was healthy or unhealthy. I keep this up for a couple weeks until a holiday or a birthday or any reason to stray from my diet just once and it would be over. Becoming vegan has caused me to to pay attention to how the food I eat affects my body. I no longer have to worry about dieting because how I eat every day is how I plan on eating for the rest of my life. I know when I eat something more processed like oil or flour I feel terrible the day after. I truly enjoy the foods I eat and keep me healthy and know I won’t go back into old habits. 

Losing weight on a vegan diet was effortless compared to dieting before. I can eat as much as I need without worrying about weight gain and it’s amazing.

2. Compassion for Animals

Before going vegan I loved my pets- my dog, cat and bunnies brought me so much happiness and I would be devastated any time anything happened to them, but when it came to eating animals I saw almost no boundaries. I would be open to trying any type of animal that was served to me and prided my self on being adventurous. I didn’t connect that what I was eating was once an animal that had lived and suffered so that I could have a meal. I didn’t see how pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals I was eating weren’t much different from the ounces that were living in my own home. Now I see them as living creatures that deserve to live a happy life outside of a small cage or pen. 

3. Emotional Changes

This one was one I never expected from veganism. Before going vegan, I was impatient and easily angered.  Eating a healthy low fat vegan diet has calmed my emotions. I rarely get angry at anyone and my patience has improved greatly. I’ve spoken to other vegans who have experienced the same thing as well. Some believe that it is a result of no longer taking in the negativity that the animals experience for their whole lives up to their deaths other have said the growth hormones that animals have in them at the time they are consumed cause more aggression. Either way, I’m glad that I’m more balanced. 

4. Passion for Learning About How the Food We Eat Affects Our Health 

I used to care very little about my own health. I would eat the worst foods and not care about what they were doing to me. I would often skip sleeping and drink four cups of coffee instead or think eating half a gallon of ice cream was perfectly fine. Even when I knew something wasn’t good for me I didn’t care and sometimes was even happy about it. I was a self destructive mess. I thought most things I enjoy are bad for me so why not just enjoy them now instead of worrying about what will happen later on. 

After becoming vegan, I began to watch every documentary and read every article and book I could get my hands on about how food changes our health. I started to follow the things I learned and soon felt the benefits of a healthy, starch based diet. The biggest influencer for me was Dr. McDougall. He has been teaching the benefits of whole starch low fat for decades. I learned how it can be used to prevent and cure many diseases including diabetes, heart diseases, and autoimmune diseases. I know that many of the issues that our friends and family have could be easily solved by changing their diet and am hoping that many of them will soon know how to. 

5. Passion for Cooking

I never had one thing I was truly passionate about. I would enjoy painting but would often get discouraged when something wouldn’t come out the way I had invisioned it and spent many hours sitting in front of a blank canvas without the slightest clue of what to paint on it. I really wanted to be a musician, I would often find myself daydreaming of preforming beautiful songs in front of crowds.  I tried flute, piano, violin, bass and singing hoping that I would get better at them and learn to create the scenarios that I often played out in my head, but I lacked dedication. Playing music never came as easily to me as I had hoped. I wanted to be a better makeup artist. From years of working at a photography studio that supplied makeovers to their clients, I learned the basics of makeup. I could apply a decent makeup on my clients, but always felt anxiety whenever someone would sit down in my chair. The time that my clients spend in front of me quickly started to grow to an hour and sometimes more while I tried to perfect every part of the makeup that I had put on their face. I would Amaya be afraid that when they looked in the mirror, that they would hate it and I wouldn’t know how to fix it. I also tried to create makeup looks to post online, but everything that I wanted to create was too strange for others and everything that seemed to get attention was boring to me. I would spend hours applying my makeup, taking pictures of it and editing just to decide that I wouldn’t post the look. 

Becoming vegan has forced me to cook for myself. I spend so much of my free time looking at recipes for inspiration for my next meal. I’m so excited to try something new or recreate a favorite dish of mine in a new way. I used never cook for myself and think that frozen pizzas, heated up in the microwave and protein bars were perfectly fine to eat every day. I couldn’t imagine making myself something that involved turning on the stove or the oven unless it was some type of special occasion. Now, I actually enjoy making food for myself and family and even stranger, I look forward to going to the grocery store each week to plan out my meals. 

Another thing that I now enjoy is taking pictures. I’m trying to learn how to take better photos of my food so I can share it with anyone who wants to see it. I’m also planning out a garden where I can grow my own fruits and vegetables. I used to think that spending time digging in the dirt in the sun would be complete torture. I’m so excited to have fresh ingredients that I can say I grew myself. 


I’m so excited to see if there will be anymore changes to my life in the next year. I’m so happy that I’ve made this change to my life for good. Have you noticed any of these changes in your life? Or maybe some different ones from mine? I’d love to hear about them. 

Happy Earth Day  👩🏼‍🌾

❤️Heather

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

So I made this about a month ago around St. Patty’s day while we were getting ready for a big snow storm. It was such a big hit that I decided to turn on my oven to make this again this week even though it was so warm out. The lentils and mushrooms make this a really hearty dish that satisfies anyone including your meat eating family. The rosemary adds a lot of flavor that really make the dish. 

Ingredients

6 medium potatoes 
3/4 cup of green lentils 

100g mushrooms

4 carrots 

1 cup corn

1 cup peas

1 cup green beans 

1/4 cup plant milk

1 tablespoon cornstarch 

Salt

Pepper

Rosemary 

Thyme
Directions;
Peel, chop and boil potatoes until soft
Cook lentils in a separate pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
Peel and chop carrot and chop mushrooms and add them to lentils when they’re done cooking
Add a small amount of water or gravy if you have and spices/herbs to the lentils and continue to cook it for a couple minutes
Drain water from potatoes except for 1/4 cup add plant milk and salt and mash them
Add corn, peas, and green beans to the lentils and cook for another few minutes until they’re warmed. (I used frozen so I just waited for them to thaw)
Add corn starch to thicken the mixture
Spread the lentil/veggie mix in a casserole dish or pan and then top a layer of the mashed potatoes
Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes look a little crispy on top

Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Jicama Fries with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Jicama Fries with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

So this dish is one that my dad has requested over and over that I make.  It’s a simple remake of the stuffed peppers my mom used to make for us when we were kids without the meat and cheese and with a few replacements.  If you have a meat eater in your home and want to give them a simple vegan meal, this is a good one.  This week, I decided to pair mine with some tasty, jicama fries and a dressing that is oil and nut free.

 

DSC_0001.JPG

Ingredients For the stuffed peppers:

 

4  bell peppers (any color, but I like red the best)

1 1/2 cups brown rice

1 cup corn

1 15ml can black beans

1 15 ml can chopped tomatoes

1 Onion (optional)

 

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Add rice and 3/4 can of tomatoes to 3 cups boiling water and cook as you normally would (I always use my pressure cooker but on the stove to is fine too)

Clean and cut peppers in half.  I’ve found that cutting them lengthwise works best and they’re less likely to tip over in the oven

Place the peppers on a parchment paper line cooking tray and bake for 15 minutes

When the rice is done, add the corn in to heat it up with the rest of the food

Stuff peppers with your rice mixture and then top with the rest of the diced tomatoes

Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until peppers have fully cooked

DSC_0010 copy

 

Ingredients for the Jicama fries:

2 medium jicama

juice from 1 lime

1 teaspoon garlic powder

dash of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon cumin

 

Directions

Boil a small pot of water

Peel jicama and cut into thin fries

DSC_0002

Boil the fries for about 10 minutes or until they are less crispy

Add lime juice and spices into a medium bowl and mix

Drain the fries and coat them in the mixture you just made

Place on parchment paper lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes (oven should be heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit from the peppers)

DSC_0012

For the dressing

1/2 block of firm tofu

2 tablespoons of plant milk

1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (or just regular hot sauce if you don’t have chipotle)

juice from 1 lime

1 small garlic clove

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

dash of salt

 

Directions

Simply add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Adjust spices and condiments to taste

 

DSC_0019

Root Soup (Vegan Borscht)

Root Soup (Vegan Borscht)

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with beets.  Every week, the small packages of pre-cooked beets are on my shopping list so I can add them to my salads.  This week, I decided to pick up some raw ones and make something more with them.  I love any recipe that involves only using one pot.  I’m sure you’ll find that I’m going to be posting a lot of these simple dishes.  This sweet and creamy soup reminds me of the days that I would spend at my boyfriend’s parent’s house before they moved away.  His mother is a great cook and a staple of their home was borscht.  Borscht is a traditional Ukrainian beet and beef soup that varies greatly depending on the region it comes from.  While I’m sure this is nothing like the version that she would make, it was a perfect lunch for the rainy Tuesday we are having in New York.  This soup would also be great over some brown rice to make it a complete meal and the “sour cream” is nut and oil free.

 

Ingredients:

For the soup:

2 Medium Beets, peeled and chopped

3 Medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 Carrot, finely grated

1/4 Green cabbage finely chopped

2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1/4 Teaspoon pepper

1/2 Onion (optional)

Cilantro for topping

 

 

For the “sour cream”

1/3 Block firm tofu

Juice from 1/2 lemon

2 Tablespoons plant milk

2 Tablespoons of tomato paste

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

Soup Recipe:

This one is really simple, it only involves three steps; chopping, boiling and blending.  You can even skip the blending step if you prefer a chunkier soup.

 

Add all of the soup ingredients except for the cilantro and apple cider vinegar to a large pot, cover with water, and simmer for at least 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  Add the apple cider vinegar in and let it cook for an additional five minutes.

IMG_3337[460]

 

If you want, you can stop here and not blend for a hearty and filling meal.  I find that the individual flavors are a lot more prominent this way and some people dislike the texture of pureed foods.  When you blend the soup, it brings out more of the sweetness of the beets.  I let mine cool overnight before blending and eating.

Sour Cream Recipe:

Simply add all the ingredients to your blender and puree until creamy.  If you don’t want the cream to be as thick add more plant milk or water.

Top your soup with the sour cream and garnish with cilantro.

 

 

DSC_0024 copy

Fajita Bowl

Fajita bowl.JPG

 

So this year my family started to do meatless Monday.  I agreed to cook for my parents and my brother and they get to eat a vegan, low-fat meal once a week.  Before going vegan. the closest I would come to cooking anything was heating a frozen pizza in the microwave.  Now, I have a love for discovering and creating new recipes.  Mondays are one of my favorite days of the week because I get to make and share something new each week.

 

This week I decided to make fajita bowls with Portobello mushrooms, fresh salsa, blackened corn, refried beans, pea guacamole, and brown rice. For desert I baked some ripe plantains and topped with cinnamon.   It was so satisfying and delicious, I plan on making this again soon.

 

 

Ingredients:

(serves 4)

For the fajitas

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 5 Portobello mushroom caps
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 fajita seasoning pack
  • 1 onion (optional)
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cans vegan, fat free refried beans (I used Old El Paso)

For the salsa

  • 4 ripe on the vine tomatoes
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon green hot sauce
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion (optional)

For the pea guacamole

  • 3 cups frozen peas
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 avocado (optional)
  • 1/2 red onion (optional)

For the plantains

  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of agave or maple syrup

 

Cook brown rice as you normally would.  I used my pressure cooker to make it faster and easier.

 

Remove stems and gills from mushroom caps and soak them in water to clean them.

 

Chop up tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and garlic. Add them to a bowl with lime juice, hot sauce, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to eat.

 

Add all of the ingredients for the pea guacamole to a blender and blend until creamy, you can add a small bit of water if it doesn’t blend smoothly. Cover and refrigerate.

 

Slice peppers, onions and mushrooms into thin strips.  Dry fry peppers and onions in a non-stick pan over medium heat until tender.  Don’t add oil, you don’t need it.  If  they start to stick, you can add a little bit of water but this may keep them from caramelizing.  Once the peppers are mostly cooked, add the mushrooms into the pan.  Mix in the fajita seasoning once the mushrooms start releasing water, save a small amount of the mix for the corn.  Remove from heat when the mushrooms have finished cooking.

 

Heat up the refried beans in a small pot, stirring occasionally to keep them from burning.

 

Mix the remaining fajita seasoning with a small amount of water and pour into a nonstick pan with corn. Cook over medium heat.

 

Add all of your ingredients to a bowl or tortilla and enjoy!

 

To make the plantains

Preheat oven to 375

Wrap each plantain tightly in parchment paper and place on baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until skin is soft.

Remove peel and slice. Top with cinnamon and sweetener.

 

And that’s it!

I personally didn’t add the onions, avocado or tortillas to my own food but my family did and they enjoyed it.  Let me know if you try to make this yourself!