After becoming a vegetarian, which for me happened at the age of 7, finding new alternatives to foods I used to eat became exciting. When I discovered there were people making burgers out of vegetables I was ecstatic! Nothing brought sympathy to people's eyes faster than seeing me munch on celery sticks at cook-outs. Now I was finally able to feel satisfied and enjoy the fun of grilling something outdoors! But there was a problem. Most of those vegetarian burgers had a lot of ingredients which weren't vegetables and which weren't very healthy.
Between my teen years and my twenties I was obsessed (or rather, addicted) to fake meat products. If you have explored the market for these yourself, you may be aware that many of the vegetarian meats are highly processed culminations of soy, wheat, and sometimes dairy. By my mid-twenties this diet had attributed to cystic problems, abdominal cramping, and general inflammation throughout my body. With side effects like that, it would almost be healthier to eat a real burger, but neither my taste buds nor my ethics fell in line with that idea. My desire was never to replace beef, anyway. What I wanted was something to eat at social events that I actually felt good about.
I have experimented with making my own veggie burgers, but to be honest getting a good solid texture that holds together well enough can be difficult. Luckily, I found Hilary's, a brand of veggie burger that used all the same ingredients I was trying to make burgers with! They are made with millet and quinoa (grains which the body can properly digest), sweet potatoes, and various other vegetables. Another thing which REALLY has me excited about Hilary's products is that they use coconut oil! After spending time as a raw vegan, and going back to add some cooked foods back in to my diet, I have found that coconut oil is the only oil that my body doesn't reject when cooked. There are countless studies on the Internet by scientists and nutritionists that all agree that coconut oil is the best kind of oil (many say the only kind of oil) to use at high temperatures. Please do your research and seek out that information if you aren't familiar with it already.
On a purely culinary level I was thrilled with all of the flavor selections that Hilary's offers. The Kimchi Burgers are my personal favorite. Spicy with cabbage, carrot, and a hint of ginger - these patties inspired me to top them off with a spicy peanut sauce, honey quick-pickles, and avocado. YUMMMM! A few other flavors are close runners up, especially the mini burger bites in Mediterranean and Mesquite, which are easy additions to make weekday salads a little more exciting. The Mediterranean Bites can be treated like falafel and paired with olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lemon-tahini dressing.
Hilary's are excellent vegan/ gluten-free party foods. Aside from the burgers you can serve them as tiny dipping bites, or turned into stuffing or a loaf for the holidays. Hilary's burgers are my favorite veggie burger option for both taste and health. I am grateful I can have a fast weeknight dinner by throwing a couple of patties in a pan, and not have to sacrifice my values or well-being.
Mediterranean Bite Salad with Red Pepper Dressing and Beet Noodles