Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers, and Why We've Gone Vegan..

We are now Vegan.  This means we eat no longer eat dairy, meat, or animal products of any kind.  When people hear that we have starting eating vegan, of course the first thing they ask is "why?".  Here's our answer:

For most (I think it's safe to say most) Vegans, the reasoning behind their way of eating comes from a love for animals and a belief that animals need not to be mistreated or raised to only produce food for humans.  A few other reasons that vegans are vegans are because they believe that eating less meats and more produce, we can lighten our "carbon footprint", if you will.  I have personal opinions on both of those standpoints that I won't get into at this time.  Another common reason for Veganism is to avoid allergens.  Casein is a protein found in dairy products, and can be an allergen to certain folks, cause a lot of indigestion issues.  And I'm sure there are many other reasons for one to go Vegan.  None of the above stated rationals are the reasons why we have decided to go Vegan, although I'm sure our reason is also a common one.  

Our reason for going vegan is to eat a healthy, more wholesome diet, that consists of mostly fruits, vegetables and legumes.  

I've always thought about becoming a vegetarian, just because, well I don't really know why.  I just have always wanted to try it.  But having the meat-loving husband that I do and knowing that he wouldn't be on board, I just always brushed it off, not wanting to have to cook 2 different types of meals all the time.  Since around Christmas this year, we've been on the Alton Brown "diet"-which we have both lost some weight from.  As allowed by AB, we had only been having red meat once a week, and chicken a lot of the other time.  We both talked about how we really want to start eating even healthier, and as a side effect of that, lose some weight.  So we said we'd go vegetarian.  Since we were only eating red meat once a week, it wouldn't be that big to drop it completely, and then we could just start phasing out chicken as well.  As we were talking about this, Jeremy actually was the one to suggest going full out Vegan.  Dairy can have a lot of fat, and there also has been a lot of research on solely plant-based diets that have shown to result in longer life spans, lower cancer rates, and overall health benefits.  It is still very possible to eat unhealthy and be vegetarian-and I was afraid that's what we would have done, had we gone just vegetarian.  Lots of cheese, pasta, chips, more cheese, etc.  But we want to really learn how to and make our diets mainly focus on fresh vegetables, so the easiest way to do that is to not allow ourselves to have anything but that.

I'm super excited about it!  I love that we now have to be more creative in what to make for dinner each night, and really concentrate on what to eat for the day, instead of just throwing whatever into our mouths.  
I'm excited for new recipes and new techniques and new foods! 

Sometimes, we will be "lax" Vegans.  If we are invited to someone's house for dinner, or invited out to eat, we'll do what we can to stay on our Vegan diet, but definitely don't want to make others have to accommodate specifically for us.  So no worries : )

What is our Vegan diet timeline?  We have no idea.  We're super hardcore about it right now, but I don't know how long it will last, or even how long we want it to last.  We both really like it right now, so it very well could be a lifestyle change, but we're just not sure yet.  Will we raise our boys to be Vegan?  Who knows! We'll have to see how it all plays out!

Now.  On to the food.  Our first home-cooked Vegan meal was a hit.  Burgers made from sweet potatoes, black beans, and quinoa.  We first tried to grill them, but they didn't seem to want to hold up very well to the grill plate.  We just baked them instead.  They turned out delicious!               

I ate them with a roasted red pepper, red onion, and avocado on top.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers
from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups sweet potatoes, chopped into chunks
1/2 tsp salt
few dashes of pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 corn-fresh or frozen
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
6 tbsp wheat bran (I used flax meal)

Over medium heat, bring veggie stock and quinoa to a boil in a large saucepan.  Once boiling, cover, and simmer for 15 mins, until all the liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Put sweet potato chunks in a large microwave-safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Nuke them for 7-10 mins, until the sweet potatoes are soft enough to be easily pierced with a knife or fork.  Gently mash them up, but not so much that they are creamy.  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, mash half of the black beans until creamy and paste-like.  Add in the rest of the beans, and mix together.  stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup quinoa, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne, olive oil, corn, onion, garlic, sunflower seeds and wheat bran.  Mix together with your hands, until well combined.  

divide into 8 pieces and press into 1/2"-3/4" patties.  place on baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, flipping once mid way through baking.  

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