At home and when dining out, veggie burgers have become the burger of choice for many Americans. Burger Kings across the United States and Canada are offering veggie burgers, as are Hard Rock Cafés and the food outlets at Disney amusement parks.
Is there a nutritional benefit to veggie burgers? You need to become an avid label reader to figure this out. Veggie burgers, depending on the brand, are generally lower in calories and fat than regular hamburgers. However, exercise some caution: Some veggie burgers get lots of fat from added cheese, egg and vegetable oil.
Overall, though, burgers of the veggie variety will offer you more vitamins and minerals and less fat than their meaty counterparts. Extralean ground beef gets more than half its calories from fat; most veggie burgers have less than 20 percent of calories from fat. Meat has no fiber; most veggie burgers have at least 3 or 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Veggie burgers have little or no cholesterol; but a 3.5-ounce hamburger made with extra-lean ground beef has 90 milligrams of cholesterol.
Veggie burgers, especially those made with soy, provide generous amounts of protein and iron. Vitamin B-12 is added to some.
The only negative: Most veggie burgers are higher in sodium than ground beef and may require additional fat while cooking to prevent sticking.
Some veggie burgers are made with soy protein or mushrooms, and they look more like hamburgers. They often have a chewy texture, a brown color and a grilled flavor.
Some veggie burgers are based on combinations of beans, grains or vegetables. These tend to look a little more "homemade" and may crumble easily.
There are so many veggie burgers on the market right now that you’ll probably want to do taste and cooking tests to decide which best fits your needs. No matter which one you choose, you’ll get the best results when you follow the cooking directions on the box.
Remember that veggie burgers can be multipurpose ingredients. In addition to serving them as a hot sandwich, veggie burgers can be crumbled to be the "meat" in meat sauces and soups, formed into individual "meat" loaves or used in chilies, sloppy Joes and French dip sandwiches.