Good Seed Veggie Burgers

Being a 99% plant-based eater, when I crave a burger, my first thought is to find a good veggie burger. Some of the best burgers I’ve had were veggie burgers, in fact. I have generally found meat-based burgers to not only be nutritionally inferior, but bland as heck. And sadly, the top national brands of veggie burgers are generally highly processed and often contain gluten or isolated soy protein.

Enter Good Seed burgers. Good Seed is an Austin company with a superfoods focus. What are superfoods, you ask? Well, superfoods are natural foods with greater than normal nutritive properties. Examples are chia seeds, sea vegetables, beets, and hemp seeds. Superfoods are packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and various phytochemicals. Note – there are no meats considered to be a superfood.

The creator of Good Seed burgers studied at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts years ago, so there’s a connection with my culinary school, which is cool.

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Just kind my grandmother used to do, I like to use regular sandwich bread on my burgers (gluten free Udi’s or Rudi’s are my usual favorites). And just like my grandmother, I cut my burgers on the diagonal because presenting triangles is culinary alchemy – take an ordinary square and cut it into two triangles, and all of a sudden you’ve made something better than what you started with. Try it.

Below: Vegan mayo, thick juicy tomato, crisp toasted gluten free bread, avocado, and a Good Seed burger. Ahhh. And triangles, don’t forget the triangles.

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Bread! (With Gluten)

Wednesday and Thursday we spent time with Jean Brooks, a professional baker from Lampasas, Texas. Jean runs Serious Sourdough Bakery and sells her bread to the Monument Cafe in Georgetown and also the Four Seasons in Austin. She is indeed VERY serious about her bread and very knowledgeable. We were very lucky to have her as a guest instructor.

Jean is a dynamic baker and her excitement about baking is really easy to see. It’s understandable why she has had so much success. Bread is her life’s work. She brought in some wheat that she grows on her property, which was a treat because I have never seen where wheat comes from. Have you?

Below: Some wheat (I believe red winter wheat) from Jean’s crop.

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Below: A whole grain of wheat that I pulled from the wheat stalk.

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Below: We baked this sourdough in class.

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Jean had us mix dough using her six year old starter. A starter is a naturally fermented combination of wheat and water that is used to naturally help bread rise. Yeast is a common “artificial” rising tool that is added to bread to make it rise faster. Making a starter is a way to foster natural yeasts and bacteria that help bread rise. Jean has been feeding her starter and maintaining the active culture for six years. This is a living fluid. Sourdough is made using a fermented starter, which is where the sour flavor comes from. Jean says it takes her three days to bake her bread: one day to measure the ingredients for all of her breads, one day to mix and let the bread rise, and the last day to bake. The long process helps develop flavor and is a more traditional method of rising bread. We didn’t have that much time, so our bread was not as delicious as Jean’s bread.

Below: Our multi-grain bread, before mixing. You can see the distinct elements of the bread in the container. From top left: Powdered milk, multi-grain mixture, oats, yeast, millet.

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Another cool thing about Jean – she grinds her own flours. Regular flour that you buy in the store is at least partially rancid. After a grain is ground the oils oxidize unless the flour is kept very cold. So, unless you buy flour out of a freezer case or your bread was made from flour stored in freezers, your bread is rancid. To get the freshest flavor, Jean grinds her own flours from grains using a massive grinder.

Below: Pulling dough from the mixer. It was very sticky. :)

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Below: Our baking lab “kneading” dough. The dough is incredibly gluey because of the natural gluten in wheat, so you could really pound it. You have to work the dough until the gluten proteins bind adequately.

Below: Our mixed dough waiting to double in size.

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Below: Jean showed us many types of grains and described their properties.

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Below: Some of the bread we baked.

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Seeds, Seitan and Nuts

Thursday we got to work with seitan, sunflower seeds, and walnuts, making vegan versions of several non-vegan dishes (1) fettuccine (2) mayonnaise (3) pesto and a handful of others.

Seitan

Seitan is a dense, chewy brown colored mass of wheat protein – otherwise known as gluten. Gluten has become a very well-known word in America, although people still don’t understand what it is. At The Natural Epicurean, we are going to be making our own seitan in a future session, but I can tell you it is made from wheat that is ground into a flour and then rinsed and wrought until the starches are washed away and the gluten only remains. What you’re left with is seitan – it’s thick, and it closely resembles meat because of it’s density and chewiness. However, since I am gluten sensitive, seitan was a no-no for me. I did cook with it, but I just didn’t eat any.

Below: Seitan fettuccine. 

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Below: Sun cheese, made from soaked sunflower seeds. Sun cheese tastes pretty dang good! And nice presentation! Lemon juice adds some of the tangy flavor that you usually get with cheese. A Vita Mix helps it get nice and creamy. All four teams made sun cheese so we got to compare final products and discuss.  

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Below: Cilantro/parsley pesto with pumpkin seeds instead of pinenuts. I plated this dish and I love the red clay bowl against the green pesto. The yellow lemon zest was a lovely addition, also.

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Below: Wild rice stir fry with walnuts.

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Below: Sun cheese and pesto.

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Below: Seitan saute. The sauce was delicious.

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Thai sandwich

I decided to visit my old friend gluten to see how my body would handle it after a year of being gluten free. So far, mixed but encouraging results. One benefit is that I get to eat a classic French baguette. It looks beautiful, smells beautiful, and feels beautiful. When toasted, it becomes something even more magical. Crusty, aromatic, warm, and golden, the baguette is an icon of the French culture. Baguettes are ubiquitous in South Louisiana, where I grew up, and where they were slathered with not-so-healthy, but delicious, mayo, cabbage, and fried shrimp.

I decided to cobble together a Thai-inspired sandwich on a baguette, which was introduced to Thailand by the French. This sandwich, a take off the Thai banh mi, included:

  • peanut butter
  • fish sauce
  • carrot
  • kale (not traditional, but I wanted something to replace the typical meat filling)
  • cilantro
  • green onion
  • sriracha sauce

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Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

“Gluten-free” is a phrase discussed widely these days. It’s on products, in restaurants, in the news, and at the water cooler. Parents bandy concerns about gluten about like it’s the next attention deficit disorder (ADD), or that it may cause ADD. Other people, especially the types who think ADD itself is bunk, consider “gluten” to be an over-used, worn out buzzword.

Below: This blog is brought to you by gluten free bagels.

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What Gluten Isn’t

Gluten isn’t a fad. It’s not a weight loss plan. It’s not a performance enhancement strategy. You might lose weight if you stop eating gluten, and you might feel better, but not because gluten is universally bad for you.

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