Feature post Nutrition

Take a Bite of These New Burger Options

We review classic, blend, veggie and faux meat burgers

Summer is almost here, and we’re celebrating and reviewing new burger options–from updated classic varieties to  the slew of healthier burgers available today. They range from fake meat –like the Beyond Burger brand, to Flexitarian options and veggie burgers made with different protein-packed grains like quinoa.

In this story you’ll find: 

  • Blend Burger Review
  • Veggie Burger Review
  • Faux Meat Burger Review
  • Classic Burger Review & Recipe

Hamburgers date back to late 19th century

First, a little history. While it’s impossible to know who invented the hamburger, we do know that the first burgers appeared on menus starting in the late 19th or early 20th century. These burgers were made from fried ground beef, and served between two pieces of bread instead of a split bun. They became a sensation first among the working class during the Industrial Revolution because they were fast to make, fast to eat and portable. They soon went mainstream and started appearing on menus everywhere. Veggie burgers didn’t arrive on the scene till the 1980s, with the first commercially available brands–Gardenburger and Boca Burger sold in local supermarkets in the early 1990s. The earliest veggie burgers contained a lot of soy for protein and resembled hockey pucks. They also tended to be tough and bland tasting.  

I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!

~ Wimpy – Popeye Cartoons

Today’s Burger options 

But what a difference a few decades make. Every year there are more burger options and food innovation, from faux meat that contains pea protein to turkey burgers, which finally aren’t so dry. Other new grocery store offerings include veggie burgers that borrow flavors and ingredients from Thai to Southwest and Indian. Meat and poultry companies are also rolling out flexitarian options that blend vegetables into their burgers for extra plant-based benefits and lower saturated fat levels. With all the new offerings out there, we set out to critique a few. 

Here’s some of the new options: 

Flexitarian (or Blended Burgers) These burgers are a blend of poultry or ground beef with vegetables
Applegate Organics: The Great Organic Blend Burger

Price: $4.99*

Amount: 4 Burgers 

Net Weight 16 oz. 

Selling points: The Great Organic Blend Burger from Applegate Organics is made with organic grass-fed beef blended with organic mushrooms. The brand touts 35% less calories and 45% less fat than USDA data on regular all-beef burgers. The beef is raised with no antibiotics and the brand is USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Whole 30 Approved. Each burger contains 210 calories and has 15 grams of protein and 7 grams of saturated fat. 

 

Can you tell which one is the Blend Burger? If you guessed the one in the middle you’re right!

 

The bite: These burgers cooked up fast and looked authentic as they cooked alongside homemade ground beef hamburgers. Even cutting into them, they looked like 100 percent beef. This is a departure from homemade blends, which might have chunks of vegetables. 

The result is that we could neither taste nor see mushrooms, a plus for people trying to get picky kids to consume more veggies. The lower fat content was also apparent as the burgers weren’t as juicy as the homemade  100 percent meat ones. Still, for a blend, these burgers had a pleasant taste, nice texture and were surprisingly moist for a lower-fat burger option. We’d buy these again. 

 

Even plated on a bun, the Blend Burgers are hard to distinguish from the fall-fat burgers.

Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers with Black Beans and Roasted Corn 

Price: $3.69*

4 burgers (12 oz. box) 

Selling points:  Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers contain multi-colored quinoa, black beans, corn, red peppers and Southwest seasonings. These burgers are Kosher and offer 5 grams of protein and 180 calories per serving. To maintain the proper consistency, Trader Joe’s recommends grilling, pan-frying or broiling these burgers vs. microwaving, which could lead to a soggy consistency. 

Who says you have to eat your burger on a bun? These Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers tasted great on pre-grilled flatbread, mixed greens and Thousand Island dressing.

The bite: Of all the veggie burgers we tasted, this was among our favorites. Its flavor even appealed to sworn meat eaters, such as a teen who is a self-proclaimed hamburger aficionado. Part of the draw is that it held together like a real burger. The crunchy exterior and the black bean/corn combo flavors also made it fun to eat, like a taco salad compressed into a burger. The price point was perfect as well. This burger option will be a freezer staple for us for fast weeknight meals.

Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger 

Price: $5.89*

Amount: 2 Burgers .25 lbs. each 

Selling points: Each Beyond Burger contains 20 grams of plant-based pea protein and no soy or gluten. These non-GMO burgers are designed to look, cook and taste like a traditional hamburger. Beyond Meat recommends grilling, baking or cooking in a skillet, and not Microwaving them. The Beyond Meat Burger also touts superfoods benefits derived from the plant-based ingredients: They’re rich in antioxidants, iron and calcium to name a few. 

 

The bite: First, you have to really want faux meat burgers because Beyond Meat and its rival Impossible Meat, both are pricey. These burgers cost upwards of three or four times more than traditional meat products. While healthier these burgers also didn’t live up to our taste expectations, but try them for yourself and you be the judge. 

Classic Homemade Cheeseburger 

Price: $5-10

Yields about 4 burgers

Ingredients: 1 lb. package of 80% lean, 20% fat ground beef, ½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. garlic powder, salt and pepper, white American cheese slices and desired toppings

Tip: Use a higher fat content meat to get a juicier burger.

Selling points: Who doesn’t love backyard grill-outs in the summer while kicking back with the family, celebrating with a big, juicy homemade cheeseburger?  As we all know, most foods are better homemade. Plus, store-bought items are typically higher in fat, salt and sugar. Preparing food at home allows us to control the ingredients we use and how much. It also can be beneficial if you or a family member has a food allergy.

White American Cheese makes for delicious, ooey-gooey cheeseburgers!

The bite: A satisfying, cheesy, ooey-gooey flavorful first bite that’ll make you go “mmm”. The key to keeping a burger juicy without drying it out is using a fattier meat mix. 80/20 is a recommended blend that will keep the burger juicy and flavorful. If you plan on hosting a backyard BBQ, skip the pre-packaged patties and try making your own… the extra effort is well worth the taste! 

*Prices might fluctuate due to market conditions

 

 

The Classic Burger is still a winner!

So, whatever burgers you decide to make or buy this summer, have fun and explore the many options available and new flavors popping up in supermarket freezer cases or fresh ingredients to make your own. Burgers are a fast, convenient and (increasingly healthy) meal option. If you decide to make a homemade veggie burger, here’s a recipe for Black Bean Burgers you can make with the kids. But do yourself a favor, whatever you buy, take a few extra minutes to read labels to make sure you’re getting the most nutritional value for your money. We’ll leave you with this parting hamburger humor! 

–SLB Staff