We were at a holiday cocktail party recently and I had a conversation with someone about being a vegetarian. It went something like this:
Guest: “Try these meat balls! They are amazing!”
Me: “No thanks. I will stick with the brie en croute.”
Guest: “Seriously! They are delicious. Oh wait! Are you vegetarian?”
Me: “Yes, actually I am.”
Guest: “Sorry! I am sorry to say I eat meat. I probably should be vegetarian, but I like meat.”
This is a typical conversation I have whenever my eating habits come up with someone new. Similar exchanges happen when someone asks me how often I work out. When I say 6 to 7 times a week various excuses are offered up as to why the person I am talking with doesn’t work out that often. Here is what I want to say: Stop apologizing! It often feels like whomever I am talking to feels they need to justify their choices to me even though it shouldn’t matter. I have made my decisions about how to treat MY body, no one else’s. We are all in control of our choices. You decide what kind of car to drive, where to go on vacation, what to wear, how to decorate your house, etc. just like you decide how to treat your body. I trust we all make the choices that are best for us as individuals and not based on how I or anyone else live our lives. So my message today is to never apologize for who you are. You do not owe anyone a sorry for that! Now if you step on my toe, that you can apologize for!
My recipe today is pretty hardcore vegetarian for anyone who wants to try something that is a little bit challenging. One of my favorite books for veggie burgers is The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet by Joni Marie Newman. A lot of the recipes use beans as a base, which are very easy to work with. Many of the burgers are made with ingredients such as TVP (textured vegetable protein) and vital wheat gluten. These are a bit more unusual but will produce the heartiest, most “meat-like” burgers. I use TVP from Bob’s Red Mill Farms. This ingredient provides texture to the burgers. Vital wheat gluten (I use Arrowhead Mills) helps hold the burgers together and gives them a nice chewiness. This recipe is one of my favorites and I am making them to take to my sister’s when we go to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday (which happens to be on Christmas Eve). She is hosting a Picnic in December party and these will go right on the grill! All of the ingredients in this recipe are available at Wegmans. These burgers are delicious and will please everyone, meat eaters or not!
1 cup TVP granules
1 scant cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup imitation bacon bits (I use Frontier Bac’uns)
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (this gives the burgers a cheese flavor. I use Red Star)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
scant 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 store bought (or homemade if you have it) barbecue sauce
salt and pepper to taste
In a large microwave safe bowl, mix together the TVP granules and broth, cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 5-6 minutes. Alternately, bring broth to a boil, pour over the the TVP granules, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Add the bacon bits, flour, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders, peanut butter, maple syrup, oil, BBQ sauce, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Knead together for at least 5 minutes, then let sit for a few minutes to thicken up.
Form into four patties (I usually get 6). Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Cook as desired. You can pan fry (3-5 minutes per side), bake (put on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through) or grill.