Beets are another veggie I discovered here in Ireland. I have to admit that they’ve grown on me and have become, despite its pink messiness, a vegetable I like to have in the pantry. They are incredibly versatile and can take many different shapes and forms in the kitchen, which make them a fun ingredient to play around with.
For the past year, eating whole foods has become my goal, or rather, my North star, both in the kitchen and outside of it. By “eating whole foods” I mean buying foods that are whole and unprocessed, this includes all kinds of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts… While I’ve become more conscious about the foods I feed my body, I’ve also grown more and more interested in the source of the ingredients, the material they’re wrapped in, and ultimately, the impact that our individual choices can have, in the bigger scheme of things. This has led me down a conscious path of discovery, where I’ve learnt quite a bit about nutrition, farming, agriculture, the industries… In this path, I’ve stumbled upon some hard truths (eggs, avocados, bees, to name a few) that have shocked me and made me reflect on how the markets work and what us, the customers, can do to tilt the balance in the right direction.
The free market, our current economic system, allows demand and supply to act (purchase and sell) freely. Businesses can compete with each other in many ways, for example, by producing higher quality products or by reducing prices (through cost reduction). The latter is probably the one that has negatively impacted our planet and animals the most: the use of chemicals in agriculture, the conditions in which animals are bred… It’s a tough topic. So, while feeling guilty and bad about ourselves is probably the first thing we do when learning about hard truths, it is not very productive. Businesses’ goal is not to make the planet a better place, unfortunately, but to generate profit. Feeling guilt or shame is natural, but I’ve also realised that we cannot and should not bear the weight of it all on our shoulders.
What can I do to improve the system? Is perhaps a good starting point. Well, there are different types of businesses out there, all of them want profit but some achieve it in more or less ethical ways. Do some research on different shops (online or brick-and-mortar) that sell/deliver in your area e.g. Google “ireland farm delivery” or “dublin ethical supermarket” and you will find a bunch of options right away. Roughly a year ago I found Green Earth Organics, a business located in Galway which has its own organic farm, where they grow anything from garlic to carrots, potatoes, onions, beetroots… Their aim is tminimiseee the impact of their farm on the environment. They do this by growing their own produce in an organic and sustainable way, by generating their own electricity using solar panels, and by harvesting the West of Ireland’s rainwater to wash the freshly picked veg and to water the plants in their tunnels. They also source from other Irish suppliers and import organically certified ingredients too.
At the beginning, I ordered the odd box of veggies but, with time, I have come to rely on them for a bi-weekly box of vegetables and other groceries (non-dairy milk, farm eggs, chocolate, etc.) which makes my life easier and cheaper (I always have whole ingredients at home thus rarely eat out). I’ve become better at planning, but there is still a long way to go. I sometimes run out of garlic so I’ll still run to the shop and get some, and that’s ok. I think the point is, to not obsess too much about doing things perfectly, or changing our habits from one day to the next. They key, I think, is to become more aware of the little things that you can change, and gradually do it. I used to love the saying ‘practice makes perfect’. Now, I realise practice makes progress – I like this version so much more… Sometimes I would even tattoo it on my arm so I never forget!
Funnily enough, as GEO became more aware of the amounts of plastic they were using in their farm and business, they started to really communicative about this concern with us, the customers, and by sharing their own struggle and goal (to be plastic-free) with us, I’ve actually started to think more about using less plastic myself, or on how I can become more zero-waste. A couple of weeks ago I got so excited about it! I had to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Since then though, I’ve managed to incorporate small changes that make living without plastic easier e.g. carrying cloth bags and never having to ask for a plastic bag again, using plastic-free cosmetics such as deodorant and shampoo (check Lush for their products or Wellness Mama for their homemade cosmetics), or just making a mental note every time I’m at the supermarket to remember to avoid plastic-wrapped products if I have the option.
Businesses can actually make the planet a better place and consumers can help by supporting these type of businesses. We support a business by buying from it. We don’t donate or do it for charity, but because the business meets our needs. Every purchase is a choice, every choice creates demand for something, and demand generates a supply of that need. It’s a matter of putting the energy and time (very little needed, actually) to find the business(es) we want to consciously buy from – luckily, there are many good options out there.
And now, to the recipe!
I actually made these beetroot burgers with some of the ingredients from GEO’s plastic-free small veg box; I used their beetroots, courgette, carrot and eggs. I added some almond flour, brown rice and feta for consistency and flavour. The process is a little messy, I won’t lie, but the result was surprisingly good: crunchy chewy burgers full of flavour. I made about 18 thin patties, that I fried on a pan to seal them on both sides, and most of which I’ve now frozen for mt future hungry self.
Many meat lovers can be easily put off by veggie burgers. However, when I make “veggie” things like this one I like testing it out on my meat-lover friends a.k.a friendly guinea pigs. I served these burgers to two friends and they both said the burger was delicious. I would recommend spreading some magical herby sauce on top, smashing some avocado and tossing in some baby spinach. It all works together pretty well!
If you make these burgers please let me know what you think!
These beautiful juicy veggie burgers are tender, crunchy and full of flavour. The ingredients used are just a guideline, you could make them with other veggies and grains. Best enjoyed with smashed avocado, chopped cilantro and some fries or salad on the side.
- 4 medium beetroots (fits size) grated
- 1 large carrot grated
- 1/2 courgette grated
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 3/4 cup brown rice (or millet/couscous/quinoa...) boiled
- 1 cup almond flour
- 4 small eggs whipped
- 50 g feta cheese (optional)
- 1 stick lemongrass finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Herby sauce
- Smashed avocado
- Chopped cilantro
- Caramelised onions
Mix the grated veggies (beetroot, carrot and courgette) in a large bowl. Place on a kitchen towel, and strain as much water as you can. Place veggies back into the bowl.
Add the eggs, rice, flour, feta, lemongrass and condiment with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well until a sticky "dough" is formed. If the dough is too wet, add flour (almond, chickpea, any kind!). If it's too dry or not, add olive oil or an extra whipped egg.
Start forming small balls with the veggie dough and flatten them to create a burger shape. To make this step easier, if you have time, leave the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Now we are going to seal the burgers on both sides so they don't break. Set a non-stick pan to medium heat. Drizzle some olive oil and when it's hot, add the burgers. Press with a spatula to flatten and if the burger starts to break, use the spatula to bring it back together. After 3 mins, flip and cook on the other side. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. If necessary, reduce heat slightly.
The inspiration for this recipe came from the Green Kitchen Stories, from which I get so many incredible ideas and cool tips on how to cook, eat and love food better!