The Ranger's Daughter

Naturally beautiful food


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.




Mushroom and Farro Burgers


  • 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
    Optional toppings:
  • Lettuce, sprouts, tomato, avocado or guacamole, pickles, ketchup, mustard, vegan mayo


  1. In a small bowl, mix chia seeds with 1/4 cup water and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove mushrooms and garlic to a medium bowl and set aside. Wipe out pan.
  5. In a blender or food processor, pulse rolled oats into a coarse powder, then add to bowl with mushrooms.
  6. Add farro to blender and process until coarsely chopped, like bulgur. Remove farro to bowl.
  7. Add beans to blender and process into a smooth paste. Remove to bowl.
  8. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and stir until well combined. Taste and season if needed.
  9. In the large skillet, heat 1/2 tsp oil over medium heat.
  10. 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).
  11. 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.
  1. These burgers are great with classic toppings, like lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup and mustard. Experiment, and find your own favorite flavor combinations!
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By the way, that ooey gooey drippy sauce you see in the picture is vegan mayo made with aquafaba (chickpea water). I used this recipe from Foodall. It’s fantastic.

burgerfarrohealthymushroomveganvegetarianveggie burgerwhole grain

Allison • January 26, 2017

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  1. Cheryl January 26, 2017 - 4:12 am

    Welcome to the club! I decided to go “mostly vegan” (aka plant based) over the summer. I had already cut out dairy when I decided to cut out meat. At first it was difficult because I didn’t realize how much animal protein I was eating. Replacing the calories with something hearty and plant based was new territory. But it didn’t take long….after reading lots of blogs and watching a ton of YouTube videos, I came up with a good set of recipes and snacks.

    I eat an egg or two from my sister’s chickens and have one serving of fish about once a week. And that seems to be plenty.

    The boys have cut out a considerable amount of animal products too, eating 100% plant based dinners with me and eating healthier breakfasts and lunches.

    It’s a process, but the health benefits are undeniable!

    I can’t wait to see what other plant-based recipes you come up with!

    • Allison January 28, 2017 - 3:57 am

      I didn’t realize you did that! How do you feel, now that you’ve been eating that way for quite a while? It’s funny, I was just commenting to Brent this morning that I’m thinking I’ll eat a pescetarian diet, but without dairy. Which sounds like what you’re doing now.

      I think snacking has been the hardest part so far. There are only so many times per day I can eat veggies with hummus … haha! I’ll definitely be spending more time exploring blogs and videos too. I’m so impressed with your whole family for making this change! I’ll have to keep you posted on our little plant-based journey 🙂

      • Cheryl January 28, 2017 - 4:43 am

        There are lots of other snack options. Dried fruit, or fruit of any kind is good. A small amount of nuts are filling (they are high in the good fats, but too many of them couild be counter productive on the waist line!). I love green smoothies, sweet potatoes, hash browns (light oil), and sometimes just a bowl of cooked veggies. Avocados are my favorite, so I probably eat 1 a day. Even though that also is high in “good fat” it hasn’t been an issue for me. When pomegranates were in season I was OBSESSED with them and ate one every couple of days….alone, on top of quinoa breakfast cereal, in salads, you name it!

        The first few months were not easy. I didn’t feel better right away. It took awhile. But I’ve been sleeping a lot better and have more energy now. Still not as much energy as I’d like, but I have a history of issues like adrenal fatigue, mercury toxicity, and leaky gut, so my starting point might be different from yours.

        When I eat something fried or something that isn’t a whole food, I pay for it later. Stomach cramps, bloating, and generally feeling like crap. So, I’ve been working on finding “healthier” desserts and treats. Vegan “blondies” are really good, as well as chia pudding. I pretty much don’t do fried anything anymore. (Okay, except potato chips! Ha!)

        Sometimes I’ll go for a couple of weeks without any fish or egg and I still feel great. So eating them here and there really has been about choice and not need. Someday I might go all the way vegan, but for now, this seems good.

        There are lots of different kinds of vegan diets: “raw til 4,” “HCLF – high carb, low fat,” and “80/10/10” for example. Personally, I think there are some extreme vegan diets out there, which I don’t think are good either – they are too restrictive. That said, I think the basis of eating mostly plant based, like 95% of one’s diet is a good thing. But that’s just my personal opinion.

        I’m having a check-up with my naturopathic doctor in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see if my LDL cholesterol is down and HDL is up!

        It’s fun trying new flavors, foods, and recipes. We’ve come up with some pretty spectacular ones, like vegan lasagna in a pot, a vegan version of your potato leek soup (which is a regular recipe in our rotation now!), and “orange arty,” which is a vegan version of orange chicken.

        I would love to hear how your plant-based journey goes! And to get more vegan recipes from you as you and your family explore this new world.

        • Allison February 15, 2017 - 6:15 am

          By the way, your snack suggestions were very helpful. I’ve been eating more fruit and green smoothies, and the girls and I really enjoy sweet potato “fries” sautéed in olive oil. I’ve also found the most delicious recipe for a vegan “feta” made from almonds, which we spread on toast or dip veggies in.
          I agree with your thoughts on the overly restrictive versions of diets out there. In my opinion, the more variety you enjoy, the more likely it is that you’re getting the necessary nutrients. Brent and I aren’t too uptight about our diet. Like you said, if the large majority of your diet is whole plant foods, you can’t really go wrong.
          I’m so happy to hear that you guys were inspired by the leek soup! Vegan orange chicken sounds very intriguing 🙂


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