Meatless Monday Recipe: Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

I've been eating veggie burgers for years and I've tried pretty much every brand and every flavor out there. Some are good, some are...not so good. The best ones I have had though are always the homemade ones, especially since you can customize them per person for exactly the right taste. I like mine with sliced jalapenos in them and the kids love them with a little sweet corn mixed in and we all love them topped with avocado slices. Take this simple recipe to start with then check out some ideas at the end for different ways to tweak it. I usually break this recipe up a little to make a couple bigger ones and some "slider" sized ones for the kids.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa 1 tsp. olive oil 1 carrot, peeled and grated (or finely diced) 2 Tbs. onion, chopped 2 Tbs. ketchup 2 tsp. paprika 1 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. sea salt 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional) 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed 1/2 cup panko (more as needed for texture) Olive oil (for pan frying) Whole-wheat sandwich rolls or buns

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions using vegetable stock instead of water.

Sauté the onion and carrot in the olive oil until softened, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the ketchup, paprika, ground cumin, sea salt and cayenne (if using) together. Set aside.

Pour the black beans, onions and carrots into a large bowl. Using two forks, smash the black beans to break them up as much as possible. (You can also use a food processor for this but be careful to not over blend.) Add in the ketchup and spice mixture and mix well.

Fold in the cooked quinoa and the panko. Form the mixture into six patties (or smaller if making sliders). Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the patties and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. If you'd rather not fry them, you can also bake the patties. Simply place them on a prepared baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (slightly less for smaller patties).

***For a spicy twist, add in sliced jalapenos and top with a sriracha aioli. To boost the veggie content, add in some finely chopped bell peppers or cooked sweet corn. And for a healthier mayo-alternative, try making a cilantro lime aioli with greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise: just 1/4 cup of low fat greek yogurt, 2 tbs. lime juice and 1 tbs. freshly chopped cilantro, mix together and spoon on top!