Mushroom and Farro Veggie Burgers, and the book that is changing my life
There is a straight path to good health. A single, simple answer to avoiding cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and countless other afflictions that we fear in America. These diseases have been called “diseases of affluence”, and they happen at astronomically higher rates in populations that consume a Western diet. They are almost completely avoidable.
What is the magical cure? Plant-based, whole foods. Replacing most of the meat, eggs and dairy in your diet with whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables will practically eliminate your risk of the most dangerous diseases in Western society.
Before you declare that you could never change your diet so radically, hear me out. This all began with my husband, a rib eye steak-loving man’s man, perfectly at home behind the barbecue. Roughly two weeks ago, he told me he was reading a book that might make him go mostly vegan. VEGAN. It was like a fish swearing off of water. I picked up the book, called The China Study, and set out to discover what would inspire this man to consider such a radical change.
One chapter in, I decided to cut out most animal products from my diet for a while. I still wanted cream in my coffee. Two days later, I dropped the cream. I have eaten nothing but plants for the past week, and I feel like a different person. I’ve lost weight, my stomach is flatter, I have more energy, and I’m happy. And it’s only been seven days.
I wouldn’t usually base a conclusion on one source of information, but if you read The China Study, I think you’ll understand. Doctors Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell present a comprehensive and well-supported argument, backed by the data from a wealth of intelligently designed studies. And in the end, the message is common sense. We all know that putting down the hot dog and picking up a carrot is a healthy choice. We all know we should eat more vegetables. In the end, this book simply serves to show us why we should make these choices. And the “why” is enough to make even my red-blooded husband put down the steak knife. I’m so grateful for his open-mindedness, because it brought us both down this path.
Do you have to go vegan? Will my husband never eat a steak again? No and no. Most of the data compared a Western diet with a diet low in animal products. As is usually the case, it’s all about moderation. However, there is much to be said for spending some time eating only plants, as I’m currently doing. You may be shocked by how happy, strong, and energetic you feel.
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box. Just read the book and make your own interpretations. In the meantime, these vegan Mushroom and Farro Burgers are seriously SO GOOD, and come with the assurance of good health. Chewy, nutty farro and crispy browned mushrooms give the patties a nice texture and flavor. Regardless of what label your diet holds, these burgers are good eating.
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp extra light olive oil (or other higher-heat cooking oil), divided
- 6 ounces crimini mushrooms, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. rolled oats
- 1 cup cooked farro
- 1/2 cup cooked black beans, mostly drained but still wet
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for cooking
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1/2 tsp miso paste (if you don't have miso paste, substitute with more soy sauce, or use fish sauce if not strictly vegan)
- Whole grain hamburger buns
- Lettuce, sprouts, tomato, avocado or guacamole, pickles, ketchup, mustard, vegan mayo
- In a small bowl, mix chia seeds with 1/4 cup water and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat.
- Add mushrooms to pan and stir with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture has evaporated and mushrooms are well browned, about 5-7 minutes. Halfway through cooking, add garlic to the pan.
- Remove mushrooms and garlic to a medium bowl and set aside. Wipe out pan.
- In a blender or food processor, pulse rolled oats into a coarse powder, then add to bowl with mushrooms.
- Add farro to blender and process until coarsely chopped, like bulgur. Remove farro to bowl.
- Add beans to blender and process into a smooth paste. Remove to bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients to bowl and stir until well combined. Taste and season if needed.
- In the large skillet, heat 1/2 tsp oil over medium heat.
- Form 1/3 cup of burger mix into a patty, about 1/4 inch thick (thin patties make for crispier texture. If they're too thick, the middle will be soft).
- Cook the patty in the oiled pan 3 minutes on the first side, then 2 minutes on the second side (or until well-browned and crisp). Remove to a plate with a thin spatula and continue with remaining burger mix, adding 1/2 tsp oil for each patty.
- These burgers are great with classic toppings, like lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup and mustard. Experiment, and find your own favorite flavor combinations!