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As you run through the grocery store after work, the freezer aisle can seem like your best — wait, scratch that — your only option. You know you should prepare a fresh meal, but the idea of washing, chopping, and cooking seems impossible when you’re dying to eat. If you try to eat natural whole foods, your eye will probably want to go toward the huge selection of Amy’s Organic organic, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free products calling out from the shelf: "Gluten-free! Soy-free! Garden vegetables! Family owned since 1988!" These meals must be wholesome, right? One popular option is Amy’s vegan, gluten-free Sonoma Veggie Burger. But are frozen veggie burgers a fair substitute for a home-cooked meal? Or are these organic patties simply too good to be food?
What's in it:
ORGANIC QUINOA, ORGANIC MUSHROOMS, ORGANIC ONIONS, GLUTEN-FREE OATS, FILTERED WATER, ORGANIC WALNUTS, ORGANIC CELERY, ORGANIC CARROTS, ORGANIC GARBANZO FLOUR, ORGANIC POTATOES, SEA SALT, EXPELLER PRESSED HIGH OLEIC SAFFLOWER AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL, ORGANIC GARLIC
Let's take a closer look:
Organic quinoa — Often called the "super grain," quinoa is in fact a protein-rich seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and nutty flavor when cooked. Although it is technically a seed, quinoa’s nutritional profile means it is usually considered a grain, and a great one at that.
Organic mushrooms — These fungi are chock-full of nutrients such as selenium and riboflavin, which help protect the immune system. Mushrooms are also rich in vitamin D and calcium. Eat up!
Organic onions — This layered root vegetable is packed with antioxidants, including allicin, which works like an antibiotic and helps to reduce stomach and colon cancer risk.
Gluten-free oats — Oats are naturally gluten-free, but sometimes, if they are manufactured in a facility that also manufactures wheat and other gluten-containing grains, cross-contamination may occur. For people with celiac disease or strong gluten intolerance, this is extremely important.
Filtered water — H20. No surprises here.
Organic walnuts — Walnuts are high in protein, and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which I absolutely love, as they help to support brain and heart health. In a nutshell, walnuts provide delicious flavor, protein, and healthy fats to this veggie burger. Love!
Organic celery — Celery's feathery leaves might give a hint that this crunchy veggie belongs to the same plant family as carrots, fennel, parsley, and dill. We usually eat the stalks, which add texture and flavor to all sorts of dishes. Celery is high in vitamin K, which promotes vascular health, proper blood clotting, and wound healing. Celery is super low-calorie, and adds structure and crunch to this veggie burger. As fillers go, this has to be the best we’ve found.
Organic carrots — Carrots are naturally sweet root veggies high in carotenoids, pigments that give carrots their range of bright colors. Carotenoids act as antioxidants in the body. One cup of carrots contains 400 percent of your daily vitamin recommendation (!) And, as always, go organic with vegetables when possible. Can't get enough of these.
The 15 Best Veggie Burgers, According to Nutritionists
Thanks to continued interest in plant-based and vegan eating, veggie burgers are easier to find and better than ever&mdashand the perfect way to beef up your nutrient intake sans the actual beef.
Compared to their meat-based counterparts, veggie burgers tend to be very low in saturated fat and high in fiber, which is beneficial for heart health, according to nutritionist Brittany Modell, RD. Plus, certain brands fortify their patties with essential nutrients typically found in meat (like vitamin B12, zinc and iron).
There's also the convenience factor: "Veggie burgers are easy to freeze and always have on-hand for a quick lunch, dinner, or snack,&rdquo says nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It.
If the bigger-than-ever selection has you overwhelmed, though, not to worry.
&ldquoWhen shopping for veggie burgers, look for ones that emphasize whole foods, such as whole grains, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds,&rdquo says Modell. &ldquoIf you do not recognize ingredients or ingredients aren't real food, think twice.&rdquo (If you're keto, look for a patty made entirely of non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.)
Otherwise, make sure a patty provides five-plus grams of protein and a few grams of fiber to fuel your body and keep you from feeling snacky an hour after your meal.
If a veggie burger is low in protein and fiber and you don't want to skip it, though, get creative with nutrient- and fiber-dense toppings like fresh veggies, hummus, and guac, and opt for a whole-grain or sprouted bun, Modell suggests.
Stock your kitchen for better-for-you plant burgers by adding the following nutritionist-recommended veggie burger brands to your cart.
How We Chose the Contenders
For starters, we decided to exclude the faux-meat plant-based veggie burgers. These burgers, which look and often taste a lot like ground meat, have won over carnivores. But their ingredient lists are less than desirable. At best, they contain few plants and plenty of soy, unhealthy oils, and additives. At worst, they read like inscrutable science experiments.
Real-deal veggie burgers, on the other hand, are usually really healthful — chock full of vegetables, whole grains, and sometimes beans. When choosing which of these real-deal veggie burgers to include in our taste test, we narrow our options down to those made with organic or non-GMO ingredients.
Then we looked closer at the ingredients lists. We often found ingredients like methylcellulose, guar gum, xanthan gum or soy lecithin. These aren’t bad per se, but their presence indicates a pretty processed product. And we wanted the kind of patty we’d make ourselves if we had the time. So, we narrowed down the options even more to those that were just made with whole foods, no fillers or preservatives.
We also focused on “classic” style veggie burgers that were middle-of-the-road in terms of flavor. To keep the playing field as even as possible, we excluded Mexican-style veggie burgers (which ruled out all bean burgers), or any that focused on a single vegetable, like kale.
Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef Patties
We know, we know. "Ball Park?" you ask. "You mean that same company that makes hot dogs of indiscernible origin that you only buy for kids' birthday parties because they don't know the difference anyway?" Yes, that Ball Park, but the frozen burgers are a delightful surprise if you are looking for a quick burger fix. That's why the name comes up on scores of "best frozen burgers" lists, including Food Shark and Kitchen Perfect.
The patties claim to be flame-grilled, and from all appearances, it's not a lie. The grill marks on the meat are one indication, but heat up the patty and you'll get a strong, flame-broiled flavor you don't often find in frozen meat. An added bonus: The burgers are precooked, which does hamper the juiciness a little, but allows for quick preparation as they're ready to be popped in the microwave. Make no mistake, you'll still get a better burger if you heat it on the grill. But if you've only got a minute, the Ball Park burger is a great option.
Tasting Notes for Amy’s Veggie Burgers
Over the years, we’ve bought and tried several varieties of Amy’s Veggie Burgers. I’ve including our notes below with the ones we have sampled. Please feel free to leave your own rating and review below!
Organic Sonoma Burger (gluten-free)
This burger has pleasant earthy flavors. The combination of grains, veggies, walnuts, and garbanzo flour melds together nicely. When baked these veggie burgers aren’t greasy and are actually nice and firm on the outside. I toasted up an Amy’s sandwich round, slathered it with a little mustard, topped with tomato and avocado (I was out of lettuce), and then put the burger on top to act as the second bun! It worked perfectly and was delicious!
Ingredients: organic quinoa, organic gluten free oats*, organic walnuts, organic mushrooms, organic potatoes, organic garbanzo bean flour, organic onions, sea salt. organic celery, organic carrots, organic garlic, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil. contains tree nuts (walnuts).
Nutrition (per patty): 130 calories, 5g fat, 18g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g sugars (includes 0g added sugars), 4g protein.*
Organic California Burger (also available in Light in Sodium)
I skipped the buns and served this veggie burger to my (meat loving) husband and I on salads. It was positively delicious, and Tony loved it! He requested veggie burger salads for the rest of the week, and said he liked how they didn’t weight him down. They tasted good, and he actually felt better after eating them!
In terms of the California itself, it was tasty, yet not a burger-like experience. Not that I am complaining, I prefer the veggie taste, but some people like the meat substitute effect. The burger had a deep but mellow flavor. There was just enough salt to make things interesting (we had the regular one). It was a touch soft in the center, yet hearty with a good dose of barley-like grains. This soft and bready texture certainly worked atop our salads.
Ingredients: organic mushrooms, organic bulgur wheat, organic onions, organic celery, organic carrots, organic oats, organic walnuts, organic wheat gluten, organic potatoes, sea salt, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic garlic. contains wheat and tree nuts (walnuts).
Nutrition (per patty): 150 calories, 5g fat, 21g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugars (includes 0g added sugars), 6g protein.*
Organic Black Bean Burger
Ingredients: organic bulgur wheat, organic mushrooms, organic black beans, organic onions, organic tofu (filtered water, organic soybeans, magnesium chloride), organic textured soy protein, organic oats, organic fire roasted sweet potatoes, organic celery, organic carrots, filtered water, organic green chiles, organic corn, organic tapioca starch, organic tomato purée, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic potatoes, organic green onions, sea salt, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic garlic, organic bell peppers, chipotle pods, organic spices, organic cilantro, organic cornstarch, organic balsamic vinegar (organic wine vinegar, organic grape must), organic jalapeño peppers. contains wheat and soy.
Nutrition (per patty): 130 calories, 4g fat, 18g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g sugars (includes 0g added sugars), 6g protein.*
Organic Summer Harvest Burger
Ingredients: organic quinoa, organic carrots, organic onions, filtered water, organic kale, organic whole grain brown rice flour, organic rice flour, organic almonds, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic ketchup (organic tomato concentrate, organic distilled vinegar, organic cane sugar, sea salt, organic onion powder, organic spice, natural flavor), organic sorghum flour, sea salt, organic tapioca starch, organic potato starch, organic garlic, organic spices, xanthan gum. contains tree nuts (almonds).
Nutrition (per patty): 100 calories, 4g fat, 15g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugars (includes 0g added sugars), 2g protein.*
Quarter Pound Burger
My husband gave his typical “it’s good” and finished this burger off. My dad was visiting, and he said, “much better and meatier than those other veggie burgers (Boca).” Both said that it was a bit “bready,” but they liked it.
The Quarter Pounder was definitely the most burger-like experience of Amy’s Veggie Burgers. It easily filled out a sizable bun, and satisfied more as a real meal. It was lightly sweet and nutty in both flavor and texture. It wasn’t what I would call meaty, but hearty and tasty in its own right. I still prefer my veggie burgers to be a bit more “veggie” inspired, but this is the veggie burger I would probably pick to serve at barbecues.
Ingredients: textured soy protein (hexane free), organic onions, organic mushrooms, organic bulgur wheat, organic soy fiber, wheat gluten, filtered water, organic celery, organic carrots, organic tomato purée, organic cane sugar, organic bell peppers, organic oats, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, sea salt, organic walnuts, organic sweet rice flour, spices, organic potatoes, organic garlic, organic apple cider vinegar, organic garlic, organic blackstrap molasses, stoneground mustard (distilled vinegar, water, ground mustard seeds, salt, spices), hickory smoke flavor, black pepper, clove oil. contains wheat, soy and tree nuts (walnuts).
Nutrition (per patty): 210 calories, 4g fat, 24g carbs, 6g fiber, 6g sugars (includes 3g added sugars), 19g protein.*
All American Burger
Fearing a sweet ketchup flavored veggie burger, I was pleased by the lightly spiced flavor. The texture was more crumbly than mushy, and it held up pretty well between a bun. It might be the one I would choose to have at a barbecue alongside the Quarter Pounder, to suit lighter appetites.
The bits of grain gave it a heartier chew, making the All American more like a veggie burger hybrid. We enjoyed the All American atop our veggie burger salads, too. It did crumble nicely onto our salads, but I think it’s still better in the burger format.
Ingredients: textured soy protein (hexane free), organic onions, organic soy fiber, organic mushrooms, organic bulgur wheat, wheat gluten, filtered water, organic celery, organic carrots, organic walnuts, organic oats, organic bell peppers, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic sweet rice flour, sea salt, organic potatoes, spices, organic tomato purée, organic cane sugar, organic garlic, organic apple cider vinegar, organic blackstrap molasses, stoneground mustard (distilled vinegar, water, ground mustard seeds, salt, spices), hickory smoke flavor, black pepper, clove oil. contains wheat, soy and tree nuts (walnuts).
Nutrition (per patty): 130 calories, 4g fat, 13g carbs, 4g fiber, 2g sugars (includes 0g added sugars), 11g protein.*
5. SoL Cuisine Black Bean Burgers
For a black bean patty, SoL Cuisine is one of the best options. They’re made with mostly whole ingredients, including brown rice, black beans, and corn, have plenty of flavor, and can even be cooked on the grill.
The main downside is that they’re lower in protein. However, with just 90 calories per patty, there’s plenty of room to pair it with higher protein toppings and side dishes.
Nutrition stats per patty:
90 calories, 1.5 grams fat ( 0.2 grams saturated), 260 mg sodium, 15 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, and 5 grams protein.
Filtered Water, Black Beans, Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Corn, Onion, Soy Protein, Tomato Paste, Potato Starch, Expeller Pressed Sunflower Oil, Herbs And Spices, Green Peppers, Red Peppers, Organic Evaporated Cane Syrup, Cellulose Gum, Signature Superfoods Blend (Fava Bean Protein, Organic Maca Powder, Organic Lucuma Powder, Organic Mesquite Powder), Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Lime Juice Concentrate, Sea Salt, Natural Flavour, Paprika
Where to find:
You can find these burgers at Whole Foods and Target.
How to Ensure Your Veggie Burgers Are Gluten-Free
To play it safe and avoid the risk of cross-contact, make your own meal at home with pre-made gluten-free veggie burgers. You can find these in the freezer aisle of just about any grocery store.
Nevertheless, you'll want to take a close look at the packaging to confirm the burgers you're buying are safe to eat. First, take a look at the ingredient and allergen list for any wheat, rye or barley ingredients.
Then, search for a "Gluten-Free" label on the front of the box. This label is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration and signifies that the food you're eating has less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, which is generally safe for even gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive people to eat.
Or, for even more security, buy foods that are certified gluten-free by third parties, like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).
These foods will don a Certified Gluten-Free label on the package. The GFCO only certifies foods that contain 10 ppm of gluten or less, according to the organization's website.
4. Boca Original Turk’y Veggie Burgers
Boca’s vegan turkey burgers are excellent for grilling.
Florida based company Boca has been serving up veggie burgers and plant-based products since 1979, and its vegan turk’y patty is made of GMO-free soy and flavored with yeast extract. This old-school patty picks up the flame-grilled smokiness well and is a sturdy snack.
More Facts on Amy’s Veggie Burgers
Price: $6.99 per 10-ounce box
Availability: Amy’s Veggie Burgers are sold at Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Albertsons stores, Kroger stores, and natural food stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Certifications: Amy’s Veggie Burgers are Certified Vegan and several varieties are Certified Organic.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Amy’s Veggie Burgers are dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, peanut-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian. Select varieties are gluten-free, nut-free, and/or soy-free.*
For More Product Information: Visit the Amy’s Kitchen website at amys.com.
*Always read the ingredient and nutrition statement prior to consumption. Ingredients, processes, and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company or product. Contact the company to discuss their manufacturing processes if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. No food product can be guaranteed “safe” for every individual’s needs. You should never rely on ingredient and allergen statements alone if dealing with a severe food allergy.