When it comes to food, most people agree that fresh is best and whole is blessed.
But, um, I have two small children and a couple of full-time jobs. And so I’ve grown comfortable with the reality that there is never any such thing as perfection.
There are not that many processed foods that get it right, or even mostly right.
This one’s pretty darned alright:
Here are the ingredients of the one I have in my freezer now: cooked brown rice, ground raw sunflower seeds, carrots, herbs and sea salt.
Take note, other veggie burger makers whose ingredient lists read like a ten-ton tome.
Here is what I particularly appreciate about this product: The back of the box explains the story of how the Sunshine burgers came to be, with the caveat that “Carol’s farm fresh vegetarian burgers are not meant to be a beef imitation but an excellent flavor sensation of their own.”
And the reason I appreciate this is because it seems to me that if you want to go veggie but spend your days inhaling highly processed foods with a thousand ingredients that imitate the taste of your favorite meats, then perhaps it’s better (for your health) to just eat small quantities of the organic, grass-fed meats that you enjoy every once in a while until you’re ready to give them up altogether (or not).
Sunshine burgers come in a few flavors. Though my favorite by far is Barbecue, I tend to avoid it because it’s sweetened (though very slightly and with brown rice syrup, which is relatively low glycemic) and also because its second to last ingredient, ‘natural smoke flavor,’ confuses me.
What is that exactly?
Is it, as some sources warn, one of those hidden forms of MSG?
Until I know for sure, I won’t be consuming a whole lot of it. And if the nice folks over at Sunshine burgers would care to educate us, why, we’d like that even better.
My second favorite is the Southwest burger, which gets its kick from bell peppers, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers and cumin seeds.
I toast my Sunshine burger along with a sprouted or Ezekiel tortilla. Since the burger tends to be a bit dry on its own, I smother it with a large heap of guacamole and top it off with fresh salsa, preferably a smoky one made with chipotle peppers.
I’m working on a homemade version of Sunshine burgers that also involves mushrooms. The few batches I’ve made have been crazy delicious, but I haven’t been able to get the texture and shape quite right. If there are any food magicians out there who can help me figure out that part, please drop me a line. I will share the recipe as soon as I perfect it.
And speaking of sweetened foods, I’m hoping you saw the bomb dropped by the New York Times over the weekend. Is Sugar Toxic? is what science writer Gary Taubes asked in his lengthy piece in Sunday’s Times Magazine.
And it would seem that the answer is yes.
Since most of us more or less knew that already, the more important issue is what does that mean to us in practice, in our daily lives? I’d love to hear your thoughts.