When it comes to pre-packaged meat product substitutes, like veggie burgers, veggie nuggets, etc., I typically tell my clients that it’s best to avoid them altogether. The majority of those products on the market are incredibly over-processed, loaded with fillers and preservatives, high in sodium, and often contain harmful chemicals as well. Honestly, they hardly even resemble food and will not do your body any good. However, I recognize that there is definitely a need for products like this, otherwise they wouldn’t exist – life is busy so we need quick and easy options. With that said, I’ve examined a lot of these meat-replacement meals to determine which I am comfortable with recommending to my clients. The Dr. Praeger brand of veggie burgers met my criteria. (The following review is based on the California Veggie flavor)
The short ingredient list for these burgers is all real foods with names you recognize and, as soon as you pull a burger out of the box, you will notice you can actually see the pieces of veggies in it. You’re just not going to get that with most packaged veggie burgers.
Here is the list for the California Veggie Burger flavor: carrots, string beans, oat bran, soybeans, zucchini, expeller pressed canola oil, peas, broccoli, corn, soy flour, spinach, red peppers, arrowroot powder, corn starch, garlic, corn meal, sea salt, parsley, black pepper. That’s it. Real foods. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of canola oil but it has become the favored choice in a lot of “health” foods so it’s hard to avoid. The other great thing about these ingredients is they are non-GMO which is super important given the number of corn and soy foods in it.
Overall, I’m giving the ingredients for these burgers a 4.9/5 because I had to ding them for the canola oil and, really, the only way they could be improved would be if they were organic.
Looking at the nutrition label, there’s even more to like. These clock in at just 120 calories and aren’t swimming in sodium either with 240 mg. They pack in 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein so they should keep you quite satisfied as well, particularly if you serve them on some whole grain bread. Since they are made with actual vegetables, we are also looking at some great vitamins and micronutrients.
You might be thinking, “OK so they’re made out of veggies and are nutritious, but there is no way they could possibly taste good.” If that’s the case, my doubting friend, you’re in for a treat. These burgers are quite tasty! Do they tastes like beef? No. And if they did, I would be concerned about what they did to them to make them taste like beef. They taste like a veggie burger – a yummy veggie burger, not like those super processed varieties that taste vaguely like plastic. They’re a refreshing but savory flavor and the seasonings really shine through.
The texture is really the only aspect of these burgers I’m not a fan of and, honestly, that’s more of a personal issue than a product issue. If you’ve ever made your own veggie burgers at home, then you probably know that firm is not a texture you can really get to with them. It’s the same with these burgers – whether you pan-fry them, put them in the oven, or microwave them, they are soft, mushy might even be the right word for them, not firm. I’ve tried really hard to at least get the outside crispy in a frying pan, but just couldn’t pull it off. As much as I’m not a fan of the soft texture, though, it doesn’t ruin these burgers for me and I still like them. They do manage to stay together through cooking, flipping, and serving, so that’s a plus. I rated them a 3 out of 5 for texture because I’m not a fan of the mushiness but I also know that, if you want a real veggie burger, you need to be OK with the mush.
All in all, if you are looking for healthy and tasty store-bought veggie burger option, Dr. Praeger’s burgers are my recommendation to you. You can find them at a number of grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I haven’t found them at Market Basket yet, but if enough people ask for them…. #justsaying
Found a healthy product that you’re curious about? Leave it in the comments as a suggestion for my next review!