Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

Ever made your own veggie burgers? We had always bought pre-made until we found this recipe last summer. Now this is our go-to burger. It’s really flavorful, packed with sweet potato, black beans, and spices. Even our meat-eating friends loved them! And for you vegan and/or gluten-free people, this burger is safe. Original recipe here.

If you think making your own veggie burger is going to be complicated, don’t worry. This recipe is really easy. The prep work is a little bit time consuming, but nothing too crazy.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers (Makes 6-8 burgers)

  • 15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 c cubed sweet potatoes (skin on)
  • 1/2 c frozen or fresh corn
  • 2/3 c finely chopped onion (1/2 medium onion)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 c cooked quinoa
  • 6 Tbsp rolled oats, partially ground (we use our coffee grinder to grind them)
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Before doing anything else, you’ll want to cook your quinoa, and steam your cubed potatoes. For the quinoa, just follow the directions on the box. To cook the potatoes, I usually put them in the microwave sprinkled with a tiny bit of water and microwave for 5+ minutes, until tender.

Preheat the oven to 375° when you’re done cooking your quinoa and potato.

Wondering what quinoa is? First things first, it’s pronounced keen-wa, and it is really good for you! It is a great source of protein, and contains all 8 essential amino acids (I don’t really know what that means, but it’s probably good). You should be able to find it in any grocery store. Try it as a substitute for rice in any recipe; you can also substitute it for the pasta in my pasta salad.

Back to the recipe!
1. After you’ve rinsed and drained your beans, mash half of them in a bowl until it is paste-like. After they are good and mashed, add in the rest of the beans, and very lightly stir/mash just until combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mash your cooked sweet potatoes, but leave it a little bit chunky. While each cube should be mashed, you don’t want the creamy texture of mashed potatoes.
3. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne (if using) and olive oil, until combined.
4. Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until just combined. Feel free to taste at this point and add more spices if you think it needs more kick.

Using your hands, form the mixture into balls and flatten into patties, between 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. We usually make 6 patties, but you can make up to 8.

Place the patties on a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the burgers halfway through.

We usually serve on a bun with pepper jack cheese and ketchup. It’s also good with avocado and/or roasted red peppers!

If you make 6 patties, each burger (without bun & toppings) is 4 PointsPlus. If you make 8 patties, each burger is 3 PointsPlus.


Simple Thanksgiving Side Dish

Seeing as Thanksgiving is in just a few days, I thought I would do some extra posts this week and share a couple of ideas for what to bring if you’re not hosting, or what to make if you are. If you are looking for a super easy side dish, look no further.

Since becoming a vegetarian, sometimes people assume I’m missing out on all of the Thanksgiving delicacies, but this is just not the case. Trust me, I can fill my plate with side dishes galore, and I enjoy my meal every bit as much as others enjoy their turkey. I can also enter into a food coma without the turkey tryptophan. Impressive, right?

There are so many delicious vegetables and fruits that are in season right now: sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sunchokes, rutabaga, winter squash, pomegranates, pears… and these all make for some incredible side dishes.

The other night I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner, so I thought I would glean some inspiration from my ugly lentil soup recipe, and use some of those ingredients for a side dish. I combined sweet potatoes, onion, apple, and spices for a really yummy side. I’m not actually making this for Thanksgiving, but you could!

Sweet Potato Side Dish (Serves 3-4)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 onion, diced into small pieces
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cumin
A few pinches of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger
A sprinkle of chili powder
Salt & peper to taste

Preheat oven to 375° F. Mix all ingredients in a baking dish, cover and bake for 30-40 minutes (until potatoes are soft).

I chose to eat it as is, but I bet it also would be good if you mashed it up. I think I’ll do that next time. Let me know how yours turns out!

Don’t judge a soup by its color

Finally, fall is here, which like I said in my last post, this means soup. Lots of delicious, hearty soups. Yum.

My favorite fall soup to make is one that I discovered on Allrecipes.com, listed as “Sweet potato, carrot, apple, and red lentil soup.” Quite the mouthful. Well, last year I was in need of a lentil soup recipe and thought this looked good. I was right. It soon became our favorite. So delicious. But when I first made this soup, as well as when I made it tonight, I was without red lentils. I even went to the store today specifically for red lentils, and they were all out! The truth is, any color lentil will do for this recipe. I don’t think there’s a difference in taste. But I wanted the red lentils. Why? Because they make a prettier soup. A little more festive than the putrid color that regular lentils turn out. I didn’t want ugly soup on my blog.

But alas, the store did not have pretty lentils. I had to go with boring old brown lentils. Or whatever you call the regular kind. Of course I wanted a pretty picture for my blog, but you know what? That’s not always going to happen. I am not creating recipes in some pristine laboratory with the finest foods available. I’m making real food, in my real kitchen. Making a big mess while I’m at it. And sometimes the store is going to be out of the thing you want, so you have to compromise. Sometimes your culinary creations will not turn out picture-perfect. But that’s OK. I am here to tell you, that even though this soup may be ugly, it is mouth-wateringly good. So, without further ado, I present to you, what I have now dubbed, “ugly lentil soup.” (Which, really, when you think about it, most lentil soups are probably not all that attractive…)


1/4 c butter (Use olive oil if you want to be a bit healthier! I usually do)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c red (or any old color) lentils (You can use even more if you want a thicker soup)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
4 c vegetable broth
Feta cheese for garnish

We got carrots and cippolini onions in our CSA box this week, so I used those. Clearly, the carrots and onions are pretty small, so I had to use more of them. I used that whole bunch of carrots, and about 6 of the wee baby onions. What’s worse than chopping an onion? … Chopping 6 of them. Ugh. I need a pair of those onion goggles. Yep. So cool.

Chop up all your veggies, and try not to cry too much. If you’re lucky enough to own onion goggles, strap ’em on.

I had so much veggie-waste after peeling and chopping, there was no way it was going to fit in our compost bins (read: old yogurt containers), so I had to break out the big guns. AKA a big bowl. Looking at this makes me wish we had pigs so I could feed it to them. Ahhh I can’t wait to have a yard someday… Get some chickens, maybe a pig. Sigh.

Once you’re done chopping, throw your butter in a large pot over medium-high heat (Of course, if you want to make this vegan, leave the butter out and use olive oil instead). I like to use my 5 quart cast iron dutch oven.

Once your butter is melted, toss in your chopped carrots, onion, apple, and sweet potatoes. Stir and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

While you’re waiting for your onions to cook, measure out your spices and the ginger.

Once your onions are done, toss the spices along with the lentils into the pot…

…Followed by your vegetable broth.

Bring your soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and let simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

Once your veggies are soft, you’ve got a few choices. You can leave it as is, or you can puree it. If you want to deal with puree-ing one batch at a time in a blender or food processor, God bless you. I don’t have the patience. Last year I invested in a Cuisinart SmartStick, and I. love. it. Seriously, it changed my life.

However, I don’t use that for this. I like this soup somewhere between chunky and pureed. So I just sort of mash up the sweet potatoes and apples in the pot. I use a fork, because for some reason I don’t own a potato masher. But it’s up to you. Do as you please!

Serve with feta, if you’re going the non-vegan route. De-lish! Enjoy! (And remember, the soup is tastier than it appears.)