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Better veggie burgers too

I hope you guys enjoyed my post about healthier baked beans! I always get excited when I can find better and healthier alternatives to some of my favorite convenience foods 🙂

Another case in point…veggie burgers!

You may remember a post I wrote a while back about the deceptive nature of the processed veggie burger. They appear to be healthy (they are certainly better than meat) but they contain some really funky ingredients. Also frustrating for me, was when I went vegan, I found out that most of the frozen veggie burgers sold in supermarkets are NOT vegan friendly 😦

I prefer to make my own “burgers” at home, such as Mama Pea’s Black Bean Burgers, or these awesome chickpea patties. I’ve even tried both recipes out on the girl’s at our potluck and they get rave reviews!

But there are times when making your own veggie burger is just not an option and you want something quick and tasty, but still healthy. I have a solution!

Sunshine Burgers are soy free, dairy free, wheat free and gluten free! This particular Garden Herb variety has an outstanding list of ingredients:


Organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic herbs and sea salt. That is literally it!

So far, I have enjoyed one over some rice and topped with salsa verde…

And another time over a leafy Romaine salad, topped with artichoke and garlic hummus!

Sunshine has six different flavors, including a very lovely falafel burger, which I’ve had on many occasions 🙂

At my Whole Foods store, they are $3.99 for a box of three. This is just slightly more expensive than brands like Boca or Morningstar, which contain 4 burgers for the same price.

But, the taste is so much better and once again you just can’t beat that nutritional information and healthier ingredients list. Your body is worth an extra 34 cents per burger 😉

I can’t wait to try the other four flavors (especially the Breakfast Patty)!

Note: I purchased this product on my own and was not paid to do a review by the company. I’m just so impressed with this product, I had to share it with you all.

VBLT, etc.

On Wednesday night at our girls potluck, my friend Beth made vegetarian BLT’s, which we dubbed “VBLTs”, using Morningstar veggie bacon. I was a little scared at first, not sure why, I like veggie bacon!

But once I made my sandwich, just like a “normal” BLT, with lettuce, tomato and light mayo, I knew this was going to be good.

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Sweet potato fries + ketchup on the side…this meal rocked!

Another fun meal, that was Heather-inspired (she made a broccoli + egg dish recently), was on Thursday night (yes, I ate at home on my anniversary) when I made breakfast for dinner.

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2 egg omelet with chopped broccoli, topped with 2% cheese and ketchup and a side of instant grits 🙂

I like it when meals are so good that I don’t feel the need to have dessert and this was one of them.

Don’t worry, we went out to eat last night sort of for our anniversary. We kept it low key though. We’re looking forward to going all out next year for our 5th, including a vacation to either Las Vegas (where we took our honeymoon) or a beach!

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Weekend catch-up

Friday

Afternoon snacks – Kashi bar + Mozzarella cheese snack

Dinner @ McAlister’s Deli…turkey deli sandwich with chicken tortilla soup!

New camera pics begin!!

Dessert – So Delicious vanilla non-dairy ice cream, Cocoa Beach granola, and 1 tbsp cinnamon raisin PB

Saturday

Walked 7.2 miles at the mall with my family! They absolutely rock, can’t wait for the 10K this weekend. The work out definitely deserved this…iced coffee with nonfat milk 🙂

Grilled cheese with habanero ketchup, green giant veggies, ripe & juicy pear…a perfect meal.

A later dinner called for an afternoon snack…honey roasted peanuts.

Dinner @ Jimmy John’s…a #6 (Vegetarian) without mayo and a huge pickle! I got the french bread, which is technically not crap-free but ok to have once in a while. It really hit the spot, so it was worth it.

Dinner Part 2 / Early Dessert – Tall nonfat Caramel Macchiato!

Sorry...discreet cell phone pic as not to blind my husband driving!

Sorry...discreet cell phone pic as not to blind my husband driving!

Went to a bar to watch a local band with some awesome peeps. Drank tons o’ water and worked up an appetite for this by the time we got home!

It seems like since I went Crap Free, I have been doing way more awesome on the weekends, staying balanced and not as much late night munching going on…

Sunday

Apple Cinnamon Raisin PB oats (made with 1/2 water, 1/2 soymilk)

So good, had to take another pic…

Lunch @ Max & Erma’s…more discreet camera phone pics, sorry…half hula salad and cup of chicken tortilla soup, weekend eats were very tasty!

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I picked off the tortilla strips because I didn’t need them!

I was dragging so much by Sunday afternoon and I still had quite a full day ahead of me. So, I went a little crazy and with the warm weather decided to get a frappuccino! Don’t worry, it was still light, mocha light in fact, yay!

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After I consumed this, I did get more energy and managed to get everything I needed to done. I hate to rely on caffeine like that but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, ya know? Today was my “rest” day but I did so much cleaning and other household chores that I felt like I got a workout.

Went home and took about a 45 minute nap which was just right 🙂

Made a quick dinner before going to a church event with my dad!

Boca veggie burger (which I’m happy to report has way less ingredients than that Morningstar), with 2% cheese, spinach & light mayo on whole wheat, green giant veggies.

The speaker we went to see was awesome and I told my dad afterward, it was no coincidence that I was there. The message dealt with a lot of things I was struggling with and gave me lots of comfort. At one point, I looked up and said (to God): “You’re good.” I feel so much better about things now.

Dessert (and a PB snack) consumed while watching “Big Love” and “United States of Tara” with the husband:

Back to the grind…

Veggie burgers

If you’ve been reading my blog any length of time, you know that I love veggie burgers! I actually prefer them to any type of burger, believe it or not. I love that they come in so many different varities and flavors, no two are truly the same to me. That keeps me from getting bored which is always a plus.

But after I started this Crap Free Lifestyle, I got to thinking…why do veggie burgers have soooo many ingredients? And are they bad?

So I’ve decided to examine one of my personal favorites to find out…

Morningstar Farms Grillers Original (these are the ones I currently have at home and eaten this week)

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Ingredients:

TEXTURED VEGETABLE PROTEIN (WHEAT GLUTEN, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WATER FOR HYDRATION), EGG WHITES, CORN OIL, CALCIUM CASEINATE, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF MODIFIED TAPIOCA STARCH, ONION POWDER, CANOLA OIL, TRIGLYCERIDES FROM COCONUT OIL, HYDROLYZED VEGETABLE PROTEIN (CORN GLUTEN, WHEAT GLUTEN, SOY PROTEIN), DEXTROSE, SALT, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, SUGAR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS FROM NON-MEAT SOURCES, CARAMEL COLOR, CULTURED WHEY, MALTODEXTRIN, GARLIC POWDER, SPICE, CELLULOSE GUM, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, DISODIUM INOSINATE, SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEANS, SALT, WHEAT), VITAMINS AND MINERALS (NIACINAMIDE, IRON [FERROUS SULFATE], THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE [VITAMIN B6], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], VITAMIN B12), SESAME SEED OIL, CELERY EXTRACT, SOY LECITHIN.

The nutritionals of this burger are nothing to worry about — only 130 calories, low fat, low cholesterol, some fiber, lots o’ protein. But what’s with that huge list? The word “hydrochloride” in particular stressed me out. Actually, anything with “hydro-” in it because I have learned from Anatomy class that your body does not need extra hydrogen, hence why saturated and trans fats are so bad for you (hydro-genated). It seems like the consensus on the ‘net is that veggie burgers contain a lot of salt.

I highlighted the ingredients I had questions about and then I did some digging. Since I know what soy sauce and salt are, I left those out 😉

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Dextrose (or glucose) is okay, it’s just a simple sugar. But check out this mad info about maltodextrin (just the “highlights”):

“Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive. It is produced from starch and is usually found as a creamy-white hygroscopic powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and might either be moderately sweet or might have hardly any flavor at all….

Other authorities on gluten maintain the source does not matter because maltodextrin is such a highly processed ingredient that the protein is removed, rendering it gluten free. If wheat is used to make maltodextrin, it will appear on the label. Even so, the maltodextrin will be gluten free.

Maltodextrin may contain monosodium glutamate or create MSG during processing.” — EWWW! (from Wikipedia.org)

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Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP, is produced by boiling cereals or legumes, such as soy, corn, or wheat, in hydrochloric acid and then neutralizing the solution with sodium hydroxide. The acid hydrolyzes, or breaks down, the protein in vegetables into their component amino acids. The resulting brown powder contains, among other amino acids, glutamic acid, which consumers are more familiar with in the form of its sodium salt, monosodium glutamate, or MSG. It is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods.

Is it just me, or does that sound awful?

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Disodium guanylate (E627), also known as sodium 5′-guanylate and disodium 5′-guanylate, is the disodium salt of the flavor enhancer guanosine monophosphate (GMP). Disodium guanylate is a food additive and is commonly used in conjunction with glutamic acid (monosodium glutamate, MSG).

As it is a fairly expensive additive, it is not used independently of glutamic acid; if disodium guanylate is present in a list of ingredients but MSG does not appear to be, it is likely that glutamic acid is provided as part of another ingredient such as a processed soy protein complex. It is often added to foods in conjunction with disodium inosinate; the combination is known as disodium 5′-ribonucleotides.

Disodium guanylate is produced from dried fish or dried seaweed and is often added to instant noodles, potato chips and other snacks, savoury rice, tinned vegetables, cured meats, and packet soup.

Disodium guanylate is not safe for babies under twelve weeks, and should generally be avoided by asthmatics and people with gout, as guanylates are metabolized to purines [1]. Since it is often produced from fish, vegans and vegetarians may wish to avoid it unless the product is specifically labelled Vegan/Vegetarian. Such labels require the use of non-animal derived sources, such as seaweed or yeast.

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Disodium inosinate (E631), chemical formula C10H11N2Na2O8P, is the disodium salt of inosinic acid. It is a food additive often found in instant noodles, potato chips, and a variety of other snacks. It is used as a flavor enhancer, in synergy with monosodium glutamate (also known as MSG; the sodium salt of glutamic acid) to provide the umami taste.

As it is a fairly expensive additive, it is not used independently of glutamic acid; if disodium inosinate is present in a list of ingredients but MSG does not appear to be, it is possible that glutamic acid is provided as part of another ingredient or is naturally occurring in another ingredient like tomatoes, Parmesan cheese or yeast extract. It is often added to foods in conjunction with disodium guanylate; the combination is known as disodium 5′-ribonucleotides.

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Soy Lecithin

From Wikipedia: “There are studies that show soy-derived lecithin has significant effects on lowering cholesterol and triglyceride, while increasing HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels in the blood.”

From Chow.com:

“According to registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association Tara Gidus, soy lecithin is not bad for you. Gidus herself takes it as a nutritional supplement, though not every day; while she was pregnant she occasionally sprinkled it on her breakfast cereal. “It’s high in choline, which is also found in egg yolks, and it’s shown to be good for brain development and heart disease prevention,” Gidus explains. “I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that all pregnant women should take it. It hasn’t been studied all that well, but it is a natural part of the soybean, and you can take it now and then, especially if you’re not a big egg eater.”

However, some of the few soy lecithin studies have shown that choline might help treat dementia. Other experiments showed a slight cholesterol decrease in humans and animals taking soy lecithin or choline supplements. Still, moderation is key—people who chronically take more than 3.5 grams of choline per day occasionally have experienced side effects, including low blood pressure, marked by fainting or dizziness.” 

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I think the moral of this story is, eat as few processed products as possible, right? Perhaps I should take a page from Meghann‘s book and make my own veggie burgers sometime?

Investigating my commonly used products may become a regular thing around here now that I am striving to be Crap Free 🙂

Lunch and run

I’m a blogging fool today! Haha, I love being this caught up though 🙂 I can’t believe I didn’t need a mid-morning snack at all, that bowl of cereal must’ve really been what my body wanted which is why I made it 4.5 hours before hunger called.

Lunch today was a Morningstar Farms Griller’s Original burger, which this was my second one but I hadn’t had a chance to review them, I don’t think. They are GREAT! They remind me a lot of the breakfast “sausage” patties in their texture and somewhat their taste. They really make me feel like I’m eating a burger and not a veggie patty, although I like those too. It’s just a nice change.

I had this one on whole wheat toast with some spinach, 2% cheddar cheese, and mustard. On the side was a pickle, some leftover Green Giant asian style veggies and an orange. A very colorful lunch 🙂

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This lunch lasted me for almost 4.5 hours until I broke into my yogurt stash (will show you tomorrow which one). It also powered me through a treadmill workout that I’m quite proud of. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a 5K coming up on Saturday morning that I do plan to run the entire 3.1 miles of. That’s my goal. Even if it’s a slow jog, let’s do it!

Here were today’s stats:

Time: 41 minutes (warmed up for 5, ran 30, cooled down for 6’ish)

Distance: 3 miles (ran from 0.25-2.68 or almost 2.5 miles without stopping!)

Calories: about 360 (realistically, more like 300)

It was tough at times, but once I got past the 1 mile mark, I knew I could keep going. I could’ve done the whole three today I think, but I ran out of time and wanted to adequately cool down. I have meetings set up with my running partner for the next three days and then Friday I’m either going to take off or cross-train. Yoga would be great too!

On tonight’s agenda:

  • Epidemiology class @ 4:30
  • Dinner (not exactly sure what yet but it will include some brown rice!)
  • Dishes (please let the hubby have emptied the dishwasher, please!)
  • Laundry (switch the loads around, plus put some away)
  • Yoga (20 minutes)
  • “24”

Not necessarily in that order, except for class & dinner, haha. Have any of you all ever taken an epidemiology class? It’s way more challenging than I thought and doesn’t really apply to what I’m most interested in but it is a requirement for a program I might follow so I’m pushing through 😉

Hope you all survived Monday ok, see you tomorrow!