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After our review of Qrunch Foods' Quinoa Burgers last month, one of our long-time readers wrote and suggested that we test Amy's Foods veggie burgers. "They're a lot easier to find in places other than Whole [Foods]," she said, using a common name for the company that refers to their pricing. "I can get Amy's at Rouse's." (Rouse's is a supermarket chain here in Louisiana.)
You got it, Carol! We went to our local Rouse's and picked up the two veggie burger varieties they had on hand: the California Veggie Burger and the Texas Veggie Burger. To be honest, ordinarily we would not review these because of their sodium content. The California Burger has a whopping 500 milligrams of sodium per 150-calorie burger, while the Texas Burger has 350 milligrams to its 140 calories. A look at the Amy's website reveals that there is a "light in sodium" version of the California Burger - at 250 milligrams per burger. The Qrunch Burgers, by comparison, had only 150 milligrams of sodium per burger.
The instructions on the Amy's burgers note that they are fully cooked and need only be heated, giving options for grilling, baking in a standard or toaster oven, and microwaving. The microwaving instructions are quite easy - 50 to 60 seconds per burger or until hot - but they do caution against overheating. Accordingly, we heated each burger individually for 50 seconds and allowed them to sit for one minute before tasting (also per the instructions.)
We tasted the California Veggie Burger first. All too often the ingredients list of the average veggie burger starts with some kind of grain, but these start with mushrooms - and they smell meaty and savory, as mushrooms should. You can see the finely diced carrots and onions in these, and when you take a bite, the oats and chopped walnuts give it a good, chewy texture, verging on creamy. They have a mild onion and garlic flavor and our first reaction was that these are good. Really good!
The bad news is that the saltiness reveals itself more and more on subsequent bites. At the third bite you can taste every single milligram of those 500 milligrams of sodium. If we run across the "light in sodium" version of these burgers, we'll be interested to see if the 250 milligram version tastes any better than these, but for now we can't recommend them. A fine burger destroyed by too much salt.
The Texas Veggie Burger, on the other hand, does not taste quite so salty (although it's still too salty for us). This burger's ingredients start with soy protein, but again the diced onions and carrots are evident and it has the same fine, chewy texture of the California Burger. What makes this a "Texas Burger," however, is its barbecue flavor, provided by molasses and "hickory smoke flavor." Often barbecue-flavor burgers are overwhelming, but this is lightly flavored enough to be savory and not overly sweet. Once again, a little less salt would make this a really good burger.
The overall verdict for both of these? In a word: "disappointing." Good flavor and texture, but just too darn much salt. If you do try these at home, keep in mind that these are best served and eaten quickly - allowing them to sit after cooking allows them to dry out and become gummy.
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Reviewed: June 14, 2013