Spicy Kumara Burgers

So this is one of my most used recipes. My last year of medical school I went to California and spent some time with the McDougall Program, and at True North. I started out at True North, and a couple of my favourite patients there were brothers staying together for a bit of a reboot and to quit smoking. They were friendly, loud, and always down for a laugh or joke. You really get all sorts at True North, and these guys were characters.

Once these I told these guys I was going to the McDougall Program, one of the brothers excitedly  started telling me all about someone called Jeff Novick. He explained that Jeff was a dietician who worked not only Dr McDougall, but also helped out the Esselstyns, and that he’d watched  numerous talks by Jeff explaining various aspects of plant-based nutrition in an in-depth yet entertaining manner. He invited me to come back after rounds to watch a DVD called ‘Processed People’ in which Jeff featured prominently. He was very keen for the opportunity to see him talk ‘live’ and in the end with some help with the good sorts at the McDougall Program and the doctors at True North we were able to make it happen.

Anyhow, onto Jeff. Jeff’s an amazingly talented guy, and the best dietician. His website isn’t flashy, or even very often updated, but it’s has great and seemingly timeless answers to plant-based nutrition questions. He also spends a lot of his time responding to the myriad questions on the McDougall Forums. And his talks are extraordinarily well-researched and comprehensive, yet still rather fun. They’re very highly rated by participants likely due in no small part to his quirky, slightly ‘dad joke’ sense of humour, and frequent digs at Doug Lisle with whom there’s a running joke (I hope) rivalry to become most popular.

Jeff also does a bit of cooking, and when I was at the Program, he mentioned that his DVD ‘Burgers and Fries’ was just about to come out. I can’t quite remember whether it was released while I was in Santa Rosa or if I ordered it back home. Either way there were so many variations on the burger recipes and the ‘fries’ were that good that I was pretty much sorted for the remainder of that year. This recipe is a variation on one of these, so if you like burgers as much as I do and want to try some other similar tasty recipes then check out the DVD!

Spicy Kumara Burgers

1 cup kumara, cooked (about 1 medium kumara)

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 cup rolled oats

4tbsp tomato paste

spices (ginger and curry work well, tonight I put in a couple tsp ginger and cumin, and one each of turmeric and chipotle)

buns (preferably wholemeal – e.g from Brumby’s or Brezelmania)

whatever else you usually eat in burgers

Peel and chop kumara into largish pieces and boil or microwave until nice and soft. In a large bowl, mash up the kidney beans and chickpeas with a potato masher.  Once your kumara’s done, mash that up too. Add kumara, oats, tomato paste and spice to the bowl and mix well with a fork.

Divide your mixture into 10-12 equal parts (I usually use a 1/3-1/2 cup measure), and shape each into a burger (roll into ball, squish between hands, shape like play-doh). If you find they’re a bit sticky then add more ‘dry’ stuff, either oats or a bit more spice if you don’t mind that. If they’re a little dry and falling apart then add some more tomato paste.

Put in fridge for a few minutes to set, in the meantime heat up your pan or fire up the BBQ. Cook burgers on each side until nicely browned, put in bun with all the fixings (or you can just have them on greens or rice if you forget to keep these things around like I did!)

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