I ventured into the exciting world of vegetarianism when I was fourteen years old. And after talking with many of my friends, fourteen seems to be a popular age for making this change. Must be something about rebellion- LOL. Seriously, I am not sure why I decided to do it, except that I wasn't a huge meat lover and it seemed like a natural step for me. Of course, this news was much to my mother's horror. She was worried I wouldn't be getting the right nutrients. I ate pretty healthy as a teen. Luckily for her and me, I never went through the "binge on pasta/pizza/cheetos" phase that many young vegetarians fall prey too. However, I know this is a real concern for parents who have kids that aren't eating meat. Vegetarianism can be wonderful, if it's done right.
Through the years, my friends loved to ask me "What do you miss most about eating meat?" I think they were expecting me to say "STEAK!". Much to their surprise, I would always say that the thing I missed the most was the ease and convenience of a sandwich. I wasn't a fan of the prepackaged meat substitute "veggie" products. I never found those items appealing so I avoided them completely. Nothing beats a good sandwich and when you are a vegetarian who refuses to eat prepackaged meat substitutes, the options are slim beyond a veggie and cheese sandwich.
These days I've added some chicken and fish back into my diet, but only about once a week. I find that in general, less meat is better for me and for my family. Despite the amazing health benefits of vegetarianism, eating less meat is more economical, especially when you are buying organic meat and poultry.
This recipe came about when I was looking for a way to use up beet greens. Many people (including me), eat the beet and toss the leafy tops. It's such a waste because the tops contain three times as much iron as the roots. The tops are also an excellent source of vitamin A. This burger rocks because it has simple ingredients and packs a protein punch. These also taste great at room temp so they make perfect sense for my toddlers lunchbox.
The moral of this story? Don't toss those greens and don't fret if your kid decides to be a vegetarian. Teach them how to cook so they can make good choices. Make this burger and they will be 'aight!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (about 4-5 medium sized 'shrooms)
1/2 cup beet greens or fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 -15 ounce can red kidney beans (or any bean you like), rinsed and drained
*optional- 1 teaspoon salt (I find this necessary if you are using organic canned beans. They are not as salty as conventional canned beans and often need a bit of salt.)
1)- In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil mushrooms, greens and garlic. Saute for 4-6 minutes or until veggies are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool, about 5 minutes.
2)- In a medium bowl, combine egg, breadcrumbs, beans and cooled veggies. Using a potato masher or your hands, mash the ingredients until the beans become mushy and the entire mixture comes together. If mixture seems a little dry, you can add a dash of water. Form the mixture into four evenly sized patties.
3)- Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large clean skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties until golden brown on each side, about 4-6 minutes per side. Serve on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato and ketchup.