Black Bean Burgers With A Guilty Pleasure

Tonight’s dinner came from nothing else but the fabulous Veganomicon. I made the black bean burgers and, despite the fact that they desperately needed some salt, they were quite delish. After finding out about some copywriting laws, I no longer can post recipes from cookbooks that I cook from—but I CAN tell you all what cookbook it is and if you are interested you can go buy the book (which is what I would suggest for this book because it rocks!). I can post recipes if I modify (greatly) the recipe–but I didn’t modify this so unfortunately I can’t rewrite it. It makes sense…authors want people to actually spend money and buy their books and people rewriting their recipes on the internet is sort of an easy (and free) way out of people buying the book. I know I would feel the same way if I was a cookbook author, and hopefully someday I will be! So, I’m sorry if it inconveniences anyone but when we look at it from all perspectives, it’s the right thing to do.

So: on to my burgers! Def. the best black bean burgers I have ever made. I tried once before with a different recipe and I remember them falling apart. I think it must be the vital wheat gluten in these that keeps them firm and “burger-like”. They were super easy to make and I loved the little kick they had from the added chili powder and cumin. I love anything with black beans–Cuban food being one of my favorite things on the planet–so this recipe had my name all over it!

I had my burger on a toasted Ezekiel english muffin (my second of the day!) and topped it with……………real cheese, ketchup and a ton of hot sauce. I knew it was coming. As much as I loved having a complete dairy-free lifestyle the last few weeks…no one can deny that it’s hard! Especially for a die-hard cheese lover like myself! I sort of went just cold turkey, and while I still don’t believe the body needs dairy to function…I still love cheese. I actually was researching this because of my lactose sensitivity (which is why I went dairy free to begin with!), and I found that milk and yogurt have higher levels of lactose in them so those products might upset a person’s system more than cheese. And that’s exactly my case! Cheese has lactose in it too–it’s just in a more processed form and easier to digest than the lactose in milk. This, I discovered, is precisely why I would feel sick to my stomach after eating a large greek yogurt or drinking a glass of milk, but after eating a slice of cheese pizza I would feel fine. So yeah…I caved. Oh well. I think the whole point of the matter is to reduce the number of animal products I eat and if I can successfully cut out milk and yogurt but still enjoy cheese on occasion, then I’m doin’ alright. 🙂

This afternoon was FREEZING (for me at least!) and I was craving a warm snack after the gym. I made some hot blueberry tea and heated up a packet of Nature’s Path instant hemp oatmeal. I made the oatmeal with water in the microwave but then at the end stirred in a splash of hemp milk for that yummy creaminess I just love. I don’t know why I don’t eat these oatmeal packs for snacks more often. They really are so good and very filling for only 160 calories. I like snacking on these much more than just eating a regular old bar.

Tonight at school I believe we are making muffins and scones. This week is dedicated to quick breads (some pound cake in there as well) then next week (my final week of the class) is when we are getting back to artisan breads…rye, sourdough….I’m already so excited. I love baking bread even more than producing delectable pastries I think! There’s just something about getting my hands deep down in that dough, molding it and giving it life that I can’t live without. Ahhh…the joy of bread.




These Ezekiel english muffins work marvelously as burger buns. They are thick, dense and chewy. I will never, EVER go back to regular english muffins again!

You Might Also Like

  • erica
    February 27, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    those black bean burgers ARE fantastic! i actually made those the other night, and loved them!

    jenna, regarding heidi swanson’s lemon scented quinoa – i only have toasted sesame oil on hand.. will that taste okay in the tahini dressing? or should i wait until i go shopping and get more olive oil? thanks!!

  • jenna
    February 27, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    no no no, toasted sesame oil would be fantastic! I might try that next time too. It has such a wonderful, nutty aroma and taste!

  • jenna
    February 27, 2008 at 10:35 pm


    Are you going to keep up with your blog? I like your photos and enjoyed reading some posts!

  • erica
    February 27, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    thanks jenna! i’m going to start on dinner now then. 🙂

    and regarding the blog, i’m so so awful when it comes to keeping up with things! i’m so incredibly busy during the week; i barely have time to make my meals! but i will try my hardest to consistently post. i don’t know how you do it jenna!

  • erica
    February 27, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    jenna, sorry for all of the questions, but if i’m just make 1/4 cup of dry quinoa, how much water should i be adding? when i’ve added a 1/2 cup, i always feel like that’s too little.

  • Lizzie
    February 27, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    What is vital wheat gluten and where can I purchase it?
    I’ve never seen it before…

    your black bean burger looks SCRUMPTIOUS, Jenna! I want some now, lol…

    The Ezekiel bread always makes me nervous, since I usually find it in the refrigerated section, but your burger makes me want to go buy the muffins now! Is it really that good?

  • sperly
    February 27, 2008 at 11:18 pm


    I think it’s a good idea to sign up for a half before you do the full. I’m also doing a marathon in June, and just as a heads up – most training plans are already underway for a marathon in June (they’re usually 18 weeks long). That shouldn’t be a problem though if you’re already a runner.. and even if you’re not you could most likely catch up.

    My only suggestion food wise is don’t be surprised that you’re going to need to eat – a LOT! You might have to ignore your hunger cues (or lack there of) at some times and just eat whether you feel like it or not. It takes a lotta food to fuel the long runs!

    Btw.. EVERY marathon is 26.2, not just this one => Which one are you sign up for?

  • Romina
    February 27, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I haven’t tried the black bean burgers yet, but I’m a huge fan of the chickpea cutlets, so I’ll have to try the burgers too, I’m sure they’re as great as you make it sound!

    Cheese is actually addictive because of its high concentration of casein. It’s one of the hardest things to give up. So stick in there! No use in depriving yourself if you really crave it. =)

  • Courtney
    February 27, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Hey Jenna,
    I just wanted to leave a few thoughts on the transition to becoming vegan. I have been vegetarian on and off for six years and I’ve wandered about becoming vegan. I was recently inspired by Skinny Bitch and decided I wanted to stop eating meat for good and cut out dairy products. It sounds like this is a similar situation to yours! Anyways, I hate regular milk and I agree that it’s made for baby cows and not necessary for human health. I always drink soy (although I’ve tried hemp milk too!). I stopped eating meat but I hate tofu and other fake meats. I’ve tried cooking them so many different ways and just don’t care for it! If you are going to cut out meat then it’s not necessary to replace it with anything unless you want to. When I go out to eat this becomes quite an issue since I’m picky to begin with, so I will eat fish and seafood then but would never buy it for my home. I tried a few brands of fake cheese and it wouldn’t melt and tasted like crap. So, I will eat regular cheese. I don’t buy any animal products at the grocery store, except for the occassional yogurt and cheese. I think rather than saying “omg I need to cut out all dairy and meat products!” you need to find what works for you. It sounds like you’ve done that, but don’t feel bad about the cheese! If you don’t like fake cheese, don’t eat it! Enjoying something you like, like the occassional cheese or piece of fish, is much healthier than forcing your body to eat something that doesn’t taste good! I enjoy reading your blog because it’s nice to find someone who has the about the same perspective on food that I have!
    Thanks for the inspiration and fun read!

  • Tina
    February 27, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    That looks so good!! Im starving right now!

  • VeggieGirl
    February 28, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Ahh, Veganomicon strikes again, creating another sensational meal – yum!! And hey, don’t worry about the cheese on your burger – as Romina said above, don’t deprive yourself if you’re really craving it; and don’t feel guilty! Enjoy! :0)

    Mmm, nothing like a hot bowl of oatmeal to warm up a cold day – looks quite comforting!!

    Oh yes, I wholeheartedly agree – Ezekiel English muffins are INFINITELY better (and healthier) than “regular” English muffins!!

    Can’t wait to see the muffins and scones that you make tonight!!

  • Lisa from CA
    February 28, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Hi Everyone,

    I just had a question about vital wheat gluten.

    I know that wheat gluten basically is what’s remaining when all the starch is washed away. But does anyone know what it’s nutritional value is besides protein? I know that many are allergic to the stuff, but if you’re not, is there any harm in eating it as part of your daily food intake? (Of course, in normal amount, and not a mound of it.)

    Thanks! I made too much black beans this week, and am looking for a way to turn them into something I could freeze, so these burgers would be great.

  • falafel
    February 28, 2008 at 12:48 am

    hey, jenna. it’s odd that yogurt affects you if you are lactose intollerant. (and sucks too cause greek yogurt is delicious!) i’m sure you know that it is the beta bond in the lactose that people can’t break down that causes the intollerance. but yogurt supposedly is better tolerated, at least according to my text! who knows!

    anywho, i have a friend (and me too) with the opposite problem. cheese makes us icky. yogurt gets him too. but milk, not a prob! i am trying to come up with a theory. i wonder if it is the fat in the cheese that actually produces the mucus and general ickiness. i only use NF yogurt, so if that’s the case, it wouldn’t bother me. sometimes ice cream will do it for me too — and that certainly has fat! has anyone come across this in their studies? any thoughts?

  • Chandra
    February 28, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Yum!! Those look SO good!! I have a can of black beans I’ve been wanting to use up – I might have to find a way to make those!

  • pinklilly
    February 28, 2008 at 1:03 am

    i just had my first spaghetti squash dinner. it was absolutely amazing!

    erica – what’s the link to your blog? i would love to check it out!

  • Ashley
    February 28, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Hey sperly!

    Thanks for the tips, I’m running the san diego rock and roll marathon. Luckily I’m already a runner, although I typically dont do more than 4 miles at a time but I’m hoping that since I’m in good shape I will be able to handle the marathon. How did you train for the marathons you ran? (like what was your training routine, how often did you run, how far, etc) thanks again for the info!

  • Andrea
    February 28, 2008 at 1:59 am

    I truly admire your commitment to a diet that is not restrictive or “labeled” that still helps the environment and your health. That English muffin looks fantastic – can you buy them at whole foods? Another question, how long does hemp or almond milk last? Since it is sold in a regular aisle do you still refrigerate it? Thanks!!

  • shred
    February 28, 2008 at 2:29 am

    has anyone else heard of bisphenol-A?
    I think it means no more canned food, and no more nalgenes . . .

  • shred
    February 28, 2008 at 2:32 am

    from http://www.thegreenguide.com

    if you consume canned soups, beans and soft drinks, organic or not, you also may be swallowing residues of a controversial chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) that can leak out of the can linings into your food. Nearly all can liners contain BPA, says Geoff Cullen, director of government relations at the Can Manufacturers Institute. BPA has also been found to migrate, under some conditions, from polycarbonate plastic water bottles.

    Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity.

  • Betsy
    February 28, 2008 at 2:37 am

    well, i had to buy veganomicon this past weekend, and i’ve already flagged that recipe! I love Gardenburger Black Bean burgers, and I’m excited to make one thats even better.

    Gamekeepers is the “go-to” lunch place for my mom and I. That’s crazy!!I can’t believe your dad owns it! And Southpark…quite close to Foxcroft. I’ve spent many many an afternoon at Southpark mall as a kid and teenager, and there used to be this weird cafeteria at the Belk’s there that my grandmother loved and we went every time we visited. Are you liking Charlotte?

  • Betsy
    February 28, 2008 at 2:38 am

    when i make quinoa, i have the same problem, so I add a little more than double the water. If i was making 1/4 cup, I would add 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cups of water.

  • erica
    February 28, 2008 at 2:41 am

    thanks betsy! i added slightly more water when i made my dinner tonight, and it worked out much better. 🙂

  • sperly
    February 28, 2008 at 3:04 am


    wow – San Diego will be an amazing run! it’s on my list of places to marathon before I die =>

    Would you mind just giving me your email? I could send you some tips & tricks, plans I’ve used, supplements I’ve used, etc!

  • nicole r.
    February 28, 2008 at 3:09 am

    I actually wrote a 30-page paper on BPA for my neuroendocrinology class last semester. The primary threat of BPA exists mostly when you heat materials that contain it—most leaching will not occur of its own accord (ie: using a plastic nalgene or bowl is probably OK, but perhaps don’t microwave the plastic to cook your food). Additionally, though i am admittedly picky and pretentious when it comes to judging the integrity of research, the data regarding ill-effects of BPA exposure is incredibly weak, not to mention totally sparse (less than 35 papers if I recall…in science, that’s worthless). Not much has been found in humans, and the majority of research is performed on rats or mice using concentrations of the compound so high they would never be found in any product. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, and don’t bother throwing out all your plastic bowls/water bottles/etc–totally not worth it. You’d need basically to EAT the compound for it to affect you in any appreciable way.

    Hope that helped 🙂

  • LT
    February 28, 2008 at 3:25 am

    To All:
    I’m going to buy vital wheat gluten so I can make the chickpea cutlets but have no idea what else to use it in…..Any suggestions??

  • nicole r.
    February 28, 2008 at 3:38 am


    i know a lot of you girls like kale (veggiegirl i know kale is your thing!!!)—how do y’all like to make it? ive never had it, but i feel like i’d really like it. i think the best way is probably to sautee, but because im unfamiliar with the taste i dont know what to sautee it WITH. suggestions please!!

    thank you!

  • Sarah
    February 28, 2008 at 3:40 am

    Yay, just order Veganomicon… Looking forward to trying new recipes!

    I’m running a half-marathon in early April… Good luck to everyone training!

    Jenna, I’m coming to Orlando next weekend for a vacation with my BF and his family… Any recommendations for restaurants? A fish restaurant would be preferable…

  • Meghan
    February 28, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Jenna, your adventurous and un-labeled eating style never fail to completely inspire me!

  • Sarah
    February 28, 2008 at 4:56 am

    I am running the rock and roll marathon in San Diego as well, I ran it last year and had so much fun.

  • Ashley
    February 28, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Hey Sperly! Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you! That would be awesome of you to email me that stuff! My email is ashley.goss@hotmail.com Thanks so much!

  • linds
    February 28, 2008 at 9:28 am

    I have a friend who is lactose intolerant and she only needs to take her pills before having milk, ice cream, or cream, never for yogurt. It doesn’t seem to make her feel sick. To each stomach her own, I suppose 🙂

  • Sarah
    February 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    nicole r.—I’m sure you’ll get all kinds of tasty ideas, but my favorite way of eating kale is in a soup or stew! It takes longer for it to wilt then, say, spinach, so be sure to add it in a bit earlier on then you would if you were adding spinach.

    I also like it sauteed up with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper…plain and simple. 🙂 I’ve heard of people adding garlic and/or hot pepper flakes too. I think anyway you make it, kale is pretty amazing. 😀

  • Kelly
    February 28, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Jenna, I applaud you for continuing to search for what works for you. I think sometimes people forget that sometimes the key to truly sticking with something is knowing yourself and what will work for you and your lifestyle. I think it’s also worth remembering sometimes that food isn’t just nourishing, it’s also a source of enjoyment and imbedded in a much larger social and cultural context. I think it’s okay to balance what makes your body feel good with what you really enjoy eating.

  • Rae
    February 28, 2008 at 3:50 pm


    Check out active.com, they have some great training plans! I compete in triathlon, and I use their running plans to incorporate drills and hill repeats in my workouts…excellent stuff. Good luck!

  • Phoebe
    February 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    A tip for everyone about cookbooks — if you don’t want to buy a cookbook (expensive!) a lot of libraries have many cookbooks, and you can get even more through interlibrary loan. I’ve checked out cookbooks from my library countless times. I think they’re something you don’t usually think about being able to get out of the library so I thought I’d pass this on!

  • sarah c
    February 28, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    you are slightly misinformed about yogurt! Lactose intolerance is caused by the deficiency of the enzyme lactase in the stomach (the enzyme that is needed to digest lactose (milk sugar), obviously!) However, yogurt contains probiotics, including lactase–which means it adds the element that is missing for people that have a hard time digesting it =) So technically lactose intolerant people can not use that excuse with yogurt.

  • jenna
    February 28, 2008 at 9:30 pm


    Hmm thanks, I will take that into consideration for sure. All I know is that after I would eat yogurts I would get stomach pains so I associated it with the lactose. Perhaps its something else…it was just when I ate the greek style (Fage) yogurts. Any ideas?!

  • HokieShelley
    February 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    ahhhh my friend and I just had a conversation the other day about black bean burgers and how we can’t find a good recipe! Since you rave so much about this cookbook, maybe I’ll have to get it and try them (and everything else) out! 🙂

  • Sarah
    February 29, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Yes, Jenna, I have to agree with a few of the other posters that your stomach issues with yogurt are not likely linked to lactose intolerance. I myself became lactose intolerant after an eating disorder (great) and the diagnosis I was given at Mayo Clinic was “secondary lactose intolerance.” My GI doctor there said the most accurate way to check for lactose intolerance is through a hydrogen breath test; other methods used are stool acidity tests and a test that involves drinking lactose and then giving blood samples and having your doctor measure your glucose levels.

    Here is a link about the kinds of dairy products you may be safe eating if you are indeed lactose intolerant: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lactose-intolerance/DS00530/DSECTION=7

    Note that they have an entire “tutorial” about lactose intolerance on the Mayo website.

    I would really encourage you to go through the testing before completely eliminating dairy products–I am often very frustrated with the limits of my vegetarian, lactose intolerant diet, especially when eating socially. Plus it always pisses me off to have to spend more money at Starbucks just because my body can’t process milk! 🙂

  • Sarah
    February 29, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Oh, but the point of this was that I can enjoy yogurt EVERY single morning!!! I am so happy about that…I get plain yogurt and pretend it is milk.

  • Lizzy
    February 29, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I have a buch of black beans in my freezer. I had cooked them to make balck bean burgers but then didn’t feel like it and froze them. But your picture really makes me want one now! Yummm!