Whenever I encourage my clients to eat more plant based foods, the most popular response is, “but what about the protein?” That’s where awesomely magical ingredients like chia seeds come in handy. Nature’s miraculous formula of essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber give chia seeds the unique ability to act like a binder similar to an egg, helping to hold these burgers together, while also provide a complete protein, in addition to the protein found in the beans and the zucchini. When a plant provides a complete protein, it means it delivers all the essential amino acids that your body can’t produce and therefore need to be consumed in meals. So, whip up a batch of these babies and take them on your next summer picnic!
chia infused zucchini black bean burgers
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. grated onion
6 tbsp. partially ground chia seeds
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2- 1 tsp. salt (depending on your taste)
2 tsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
3-6 drops liquid smoke (optional)
Cooking oil (optional)
makes 4 patties
In a medium mixing bowl, smash the black beans so that they are smashed up, while leaving some beans intact. You want them to be smashed enough to hold together like a dough, while still being able to see some whole beans. Add the zucchini and onions and gently blend together.
In a coffee grinder or blender, grind the chia seeds so that they are partially ground but not completely pulverized. By grinding the seeds, you make them more absorbable and they will act as a better binding agent for the burgers.
Mix the chia seeds and all the dry spices in a small bowl, including the optional nutritional yeast (nutritional yeast provides a dairy-like flavor balance, protein, and vitamin B12), and then mix the dry spice and seed mixture into the black bean mixture. Add the few drops of optional liquid smoke (only if you want a smoky flavor) and blend into the mixture. All this mixing should not break down the black beans any further. You should end up with a cookie dough-like consistency that doesn’t stick to your hands.
Form into four patties or more if you want to make them smaller. At this point, you can let them sit for 2 hours or overnight to allow the chia seeds to activate, or you can cook them right away. Brush with a little oil (optional) and bake in a 400° oven for 20-30 minutes, until they are brown on the outside. Or, you can cook on a stovetop at medium, about 7-10 minutes on each side.
NOTE: These are great hot, but if you let them set before cooking, as recommended above, and then after cooking, let them cool down to room temperature, they hold together much better. Whatever method you decide to follow, they will turn out great. Enjoy on your favorite healthy hamburger bun, in a lettuce wrap, or as a stand alone entree patty.
Check out other vegan burger recipes here!