Making the choice to switch to a plant-based diet shouldn’t mean giving up your gains — in fact, incorporating more plant-based foods may even give you an athletic advantage — provided you know how to properly fuel your body while eating vegan. The Vegan Athlete’s Nutrition Handbook by registered dietitian nutritionist Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, is a comprehensive guidebook for anyone looking to dive deep into the science behind plant-based eating and peak performance.
The book includes over 25 flavorful and fueling vegan recipes including the one below for Lentil Burgers, one of a handful of recipes that is meant to be your day before competition or post-recovery meals where fueling or refueling is warranted.
Hearty Grilled Lentil Burgers
Serves: 6 • Prep Time: 30 minutes • Cooking Time: 45 minutes
1 cup lentils dry, brown or green (or 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils)
3 cups of water
2 Tbsps flax meal
6 Tbsps water
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbsp dried oregano
3/4 cup raw oats
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped onion (I’ve used both red and yellow onion, they both work well)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsps tomato paste
2 Tbsps vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or coconut aminos
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
- Wash the lentils well, removing any debris, then place in a medium stovetop pot.
- Add three cups of water. Bring to a high simmer then lower the heat. Cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. (A mushier texture works well for these burgers.) Once finished cooking, drain any excess water and set aside.
- In the meantime, add the flax meal and water to a small bowl and let sit. This will be your “flax egg,” which binds the burgers.
- Place the walnuts, oats and oregano in a food processor. Blend until the walnuts and oats are completely blended. Set aside.
- Place a medium-size stovetop pan on medium to high heat. Add the oil, carrots and onions. Cook on medium for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or veggie broth as needed to deglaze the pan. 7. Stir in the garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and turmeric. Cook for another 30-60 seconds.
- Lower the heat, add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and tamari. With a spatula, mix until everything is combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add ½ of the cooked lentils from the pot and mash with a fork or potato masher.
- Add the remaining lentils (so half of the lentils will be mashed and half will be whole for some texture).
- Mix in the carrot, onion and garlic mixture; the oats and walnuts mixture; and the oat flour, salt and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
- Finally, fold in the flax egg so it’s mixed in well. Since there are no eggs, you can taste the mixture and add more seasoning if you’d like. Red pepper flakes or more oregano might be good additions.
- Form eight individual patties with clean washed hands, placing them on a baking sheet or clean cutting board before transferring them to the stovetop. 14. To cook, grill on the stovetop or your outside grill as they stay together really well!
For the stovetop: Spray with olive oil to prevent sticking. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, cook the burgers on each side until browned for about 5 minutes per side.
For the grill: Grill on each side for 5-7 minutes. We used a copper mat. Alternatively, bake them in the oven by placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking them at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Storage: Store the cooked patties in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or freeze, with parchment paper in between each patty, for up to one month.
Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN, has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for more than 25 years, specializing in heart disease, diabetes, sports nutrition and women’s health. For more than a decade, she has focused on plant-based lifestyles through inspiring and educating people about plant-based eating to optimize their health and the health of the planet. Nichole has been featured in Eating Well, Business Insider and Atlanta Journal Constitution. She is also a media spokesperson for The Weather Channel and local Atlanta television networks. A former triathlete and current yoga instructor, she shares her passion through her website Purely Planted. Nichole is the author of The Fiber Effect and The Vegan Athlete’s Nutrition Handbook. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband.