Mushrooms – My Favorite Meat Alternative

I like to eat meat.

I just needed to make that clear. I’m not currently a vegetarian, although I have been in the past. A couple of years in Seattle, a few months here or there…but I always cave in to my carnivorous cravings. That purely carnal pleasure, the mouth-feel of meat…there’s no substitute for a great steak. Or bacon. Bacon is good. Bacon was my friend when many others were not. Bacon knows how to keep a secret.

As much as I love bacon (and many other fine pork products) I know that eating meat at every meal, every day is not OK. I don’t even need to eat meat once a day to feel my best. But it’s so versatile and delicious that I am constantly tempted by it.

I’m always looking for a healthier alternative that still satisfies. Sometimes beans work (I don’t miss the meat in a spicy bean chili during the winter & I have a couple of good “lentil loaf” recipes that are hearty comfort food) but I’m less thrilled with beans in the summer. I get bored. I want variety.

In the summer I turn to the Mighty Magical Mushroom {no, not that kind of magic – silly rabbit}

The texture of a grilled portobello is surprisingly beef-like…dare I say “fleshy”? And there are so many different types of mushrooms, exotic mushrooms with deep woodsy flavors. Mushrooms are my summer “go-to” when I know I shouldn’t eat one more burger, even if it’s turkey this time, instead of beef. Oh – I love animal protein!

So I was super excited when I stumbled upon this recipe for Veggie Burgers that are a combination of mushrooms, lentils & walnuts – YUMMY!! They even have spinach in them (I love the hidden green veggies) My only complaint is that they don’t hold up well to BBQ grilling. Broiling works ok, but honestly, they taste best pan fried.
3/4 cup dry lentils
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut oil or olive oil
1 cup onion, finely minced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
10 large mushrooms, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, very finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound fresh spinach, finely minced
1 teaspoon dry mustard
fresh black pepper, to taste

Place lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the liquid is gone.
Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, add vinegar, and mash well. Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add onions and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and saute 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the saute to the lentils and mix well. Chill for about an hour before forming patties. Form 4-inch-diameter burgers. Fry in a small amount of hot oil on both sides until heated through and crispy on the outside, or broil for 5 to 8 minutes on each side.

FYI : You can saute the vegetables while the lentils cook. The burgers can be made up to several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until just before cooking. Uncooked burgers can be individually wrapped and frozen. Defrost before cooking.

I love all different kinds of veggie burgers. You can use so many different ingredient combinations, it’s hard to become bored with them. The only ones I don’t eat anymore are the frozen “fake meat” products (like Boca Burgers) that are made with soy isolates like SPI [soy protein isolate] or TVP [textured vegetable protein] SPI & TVP are called “soy isolates” because the soy protein has been isolated from the rest of the soybean. I’m not anti-soy, but I am anti-over processing that takes place in industrial factories.  First, a slurry of soy beans is mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution. Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. The resultant curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final indignity to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein (TVP). Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing.
Numerous artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong “beany” taste and to impart the flavor of meat.

I’d much rather eat veggie burgers made from, say…VEGETABLES, that taste like vegetables, than eat that fake crap. When I want to eat something that tastes like beef, I eat {gasp} BEEF. Real grass-fed, grass-finished, free-range pastured beef. “Beef..It’s Whats For Dinner…Every Once In A While”

7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    vincent said,


    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the

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  2. 2

    Paris said,

    Hi! I found your blog on the Foodie Blogroll. Awesome post, and I love your sense of humor near the end. I agree about the fake-meat stuff being pretty gross. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing. 🙂


    • 3

      healthymaura said,

      Hi Paris,
      Thanks for checking out my blog! Let me know what you think of the burgers…for best results pan sear in coconut oil…love that yummy nutty flavor 🙂 ~Maura

  3. 4

    Alisa said,

    Very well said! I also found your blog from the foodie blog roll and I just had to laugh when I reached the part of “final indignity to the original soybean”…I ‘d love to give your veggie burger a try though 🙂 If you won’t mind I’d love to guide Foodista readers to this post.Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

    • 5

      healthymaura said,

      Hi Alisa,
      I like Foodista! What a great site. I’m going to pick some recipes to explore this weekend…On my way to the farmer’s market right now to pick up some tasty local veggies. YUM! ~ Maura

  4. 6

    Rowie said,

    Your blog is great! The recipe sounds so good, especially flavored with your sense of humor! I’ll be stopping by again! I would love to see more pictures!

  5. 7

    Simply Life said,

    oh that looks perfect!

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