Eat

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Veggie Burgers

Monday, 17 August 2009 | Tags: ,

For those trying to cut down on meat, or to increase their intake of greens, veggie burgers are an alternative to those delicious yet greasy cheeseburgers. We find out how veggie burgers stand up to their meaty counterparts when it comes to taste.

The Basics

Veggie or meat-less burgers are available at most grocery stores and are usually found in the refrigerated produce section, next to the packaged lettuce and salad dressing, or in the frozen food section. You may also find some in the meat department as marketers try to capture the dedicated meat-eaters.

They can be made using a variety of bases:

  • Whole-grain: these burgers are made primarily from wheat, oats, brown rice, basmati rice or barley, and vegetables. They have a lot of fibre and good carbs, and less salt that many of the soy-based products. Some may be labeled as mushroom burgers, even if they contain more grain than mushroom.

  • Vegetable: often called garden burgers, they are primarily made from carrot, mushroom, onion, corn, pease, red peppers, rice, and soy protein. They usually contain less protein than soy-based burgers, but more fibre and less salt. They are preferred by those who don’t want a burger that mimics the taste of meat.

  • Bean or Legume: made from red or black beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils along with other whole grains and vegetable ingredients, these burgers are typically low in fat and high in protein, as well as a good source of fibre without relying on soy, which some people are allergic to.

  • Soy: made from soy protein, vegetable protein, tofu or tempeh, these burgers look and taste almost like real meat burgers. They usually have the highest protein of all the non-meat options, but also are higher in salt content.

Be Aware

Always pay attention to the ingredients list. Especially watch for:

  • Added sodium (salt). Some brands add up to a gram of salt per burger for flavouring, which is about 1/3 of your daily recommended salt intake.

  • Omega-3: some veggie burger brands advertise heart-healthy Omega fats in their ingredients (and charge more), but the health benefits are typically compromised by exposure to air (i.e. oxidization). Frozen patties are usually the better choice if you’re looking to maximize the nutritional benefit of these added ingredients.

TEST CRITERIA

We recruited a diversified tasting panel consisting of vegetarians, flexitarians, and die-hard meat lovers. We tasted our products naked as well as all dressed up to get a feel for the whole burger package.

We tested:

  • Kraft’s Boca Burger (soy-based): $4.99 per box
  • Yves Veggie Burger (fresh, soy-based): $4.89 per box
  • Money’s Gardenburger (grain & vegetable with some soy): $4.99 per box
  • Ruth’s Omega Burger (soy-free made with flax and hemp with Omega fats): $6.39 per box

Taste Test

  • The Yves Veggie Burger tasted the closest to real meat and was a hit with most of the meat lovers, but the same taste that didn’t win many others over.

  • Ruth’s Omega Burger was mushy between the buns. We preferred burgers that contained soy to give it more bite and better texture.

  • From a purely nutritional standpoint, the Kraft Boca burger wins for having the least amount of salt.

  • Our overall favourite, both for taste and texture, was definitely Money’s Gardenburger.

 

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