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Last week we reviewed two utterly inedible burgers from Hilary's Eat Well Products. Allergen-free and flavor-free, they exemplify everything that has turned people off of eating healthy. Fortunately, one of our loyal readers wrote and told us about today's products from Veggie Gourmet. She said that "they are produced in Mississippi by an Indian family," so they may not be available near you, but we're always glad to review the foods you suggest as long as they fit our sodium requirements (and we can find them).
Of the three varieties we found at our local grocery store (Rouse's, for those in the New Orleans area), two met our sodium criteria: The All-American Burger and The Pizza Burger. Both have about 160 calories and 330 milligrams of sodium apiece, but unlike last week's gluten- and allergen-free products, these do contain wheat, soy and dairy ingredients.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that microwaving or pan-frying were the only two options for cooking these burgers. Just two minutes in the microwave, covered with a paper towel, followed by allowing to rest for one minute, and you're done.
One of the big problems with Hilary's Eat Well burgers was their texture, and I suspect that this is one of the big pitfalls for all veggie burgers. Unlike last week's dry, crumbly texture, Veggie Gourmet's All-American burger has a good, meaty, chewy texture with a mild smoke and onion scent and flavor - almost a sausagey scent. It's not too dry, not too moist - although we tasted these without accompaniments, on a bun with a little mustard you could easily mistake these for pre-made burgers. Surprise! These are so good, a couple of the tasters volunteered to take the uncooked portions home with them (this almost never happens).
The Pizza Burger has visible green bell peppers bits scattered throughout, and smells of onions and green bell pepper while cooking. Despite the ingredients list including "pizza sauce," we couldn't detect much of a tomato flavor at all. These burgers are stuffed with a combination of cheddar and mozzarella, and they are certainly "bursting with flavor," as the package says. If you mean that the cheese will burst out of the top when you cook them, that is - so be sure to cover them if you choose to microwave them.
Bursting aside, these are also good burgers. Once again the texture is firm and chewy, with a moderately strong bell pepper and onion flavor. Bites that include the cheese are even chewier, although we noted that the cheese is not evenly spread through the burger. Again, on a bun you probably wouldn't notice. While this is not even close in flavor to a "stuffed pizza," these are also good burgers.
There is, however, one drawback to these veggie burgers, and it's one that has kept Dr. Gourmet from reviewing many veggie burgers. It's the length of the ingredient list, which includes such things as "wheat gluten," "non-GMO soy protein isolate," and "carbohydrate gum." Certainly these burgers are less processed than some, but it should be a consideration when you're looking at veggie burgers (or any processed food). We'll keep an eye out for the other burger varieties and meatless meals from Veggie Gourmet. And in the mean time our panel will enjoy the leftovers.