Black Bean Burgers with Chef Dayna McLeod

Once a month, celebrity chef and plant-based diet expert Dayna McLeod will answer a few of our food-related questions and share one of her delicious recipes. I made her breakfast quinoa last week and it was a great start to me day. In addition to the recipe below, Dayna’s answering a few of my questions about transitioning your family’s diet to plant-based whole foods. Take it away, Chef Dayna.

PMD: Beans are a big part of a healthy plant-based diet. Can you help us understand the health benefits?

Chef Dayna: Beans are often called “poor people’s meat”, but considering the all the amazing health benefits, they should really be called “healthy people’s meat”.  Far more versatile than meat, it might surprise you how much you can dress up beans and how well they can complement any meal.

Beans are a great source of protein and are loaded with fiber. Did you know diets rich in beans can reduce risk of many cancers, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improve diabetics’ blood glucose control and prevent and cure constipation? Did you  know that 1/4 cup of beans contains as much protein as 1 oz. of meat? Did you know beans rate even higher than blueberries with its high degree of antioxidant protection? Pretty cool stuff huh! I can go on for days about this, but I don’t want to spill the beans all at once.

What’s the benefit of using dried beans versus canned beans?
There are definitely benefits to using dried beans over canned beans. However, before I get to that, I need to emphasize one thing. If the convenience of canned beans makes you more likely to cook, absolutely buy the canned beans.  Let’s keep our eye on the prize here. The health benefits of adding more beans to your diet far outweigh the disadvantages of using canned beans. I promise I wont judge you if I see you in the canned bean aisle in the grocery store.

Now you have all heard the song… beans, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat the more…well you know the rest. Most people love the nutrition that beans provide, but they. are leery of eating them because they get embarrassed from the gas beans can cause. Here is a simple way to prevent that: In a stockpot, place one pound of beans in ten or more cups of boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes. Then cover and set aside overnight. The next day, 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars that cause the gas will have dissolved into the soaking water. Drain the soaking water that the beans were in and replace with fresh water to cook in. It is as simple as that!

There are other things to look at as well. Canned beans can have a large amount of sodium added to them. Rinse canned beans thoroughly to decrease the sodium. Too much sodium in our diet is never a good thing. So don’t forget to always read the labels! There is also the fact that most cans have a BPA lining. However, they have started making some brands BPA free. It usually says BPA free in bold letters on the front of the can, so keep your eye out for these.

When you’re stalking a pantry for a client, which beans are your must-haves?
One of the best things about dried beans is that they are super cheap, and they don’t go bad! For that reason I really encourage people to stock up on every kind of bean you can find. Having a variety of beans on hand will make it easier for you to try new recipes. I am terrible about planning my meals in advance. I just don’t understand how I am supposed to know what I want to eat in 3 days, let alone in 3 hours? So go out and buy a rainbow of dried beans and lentils. Some of my favs are Garbanzo, Kidney, Navy, Black, and Lima beans. Ahh and I can’t forget Black Eyed Peas! My list can go on and on.

Here is a good Chef’s Tip for you…. Every time you make beans, make a huge batch and divide them into ziplock bags. Throw them in your freezer, and anytime you need beans for your recipe they are ready to go. Say goodbye to can beans for forever.

(Get a load of this pantry Dayna organized for a client! I’m so inspired.)

Brazilian Black Bean Patties

1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (or salsa of your choice)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 (15 oz. cans) black beans, drained
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 ripe mangos, peeled and cubed (I used peaches and it was awesome!)
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 small green chili pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
2 teaspoons light agave nectar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, mix the salsa, cumin, coriander, parsley, chili powder, and black beans. Blitz the mixture until it is very smooth. Transfer the bean mixture from the food processor and put it into a large mixing bowl. With a spatula, fold in the green onions, 1 cup bread crumbs, salt and pepper. The mix should be evenly combined.

2. Shape the mixture into 8 even patties. In a shallow container, pour in the remaining bread crumbs and dredge each patter. Transfer the patties to a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

3. In the meantime, mix together the mangos, peppers, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, salsa, and agave into a small bowl. Chill until serving time.

4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat.  Fry each patty for 3 minutes on each side. Be careful not to let the patties burn. Transfer the patties to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

5. Keep the patties warm on a baking sheet in the oven until ready to serve (no longer than 15 minutes).

6. Just before plating, dice the avocado and toss with the salsa to combine.

7. Serve 2 patties on each plat and spoon the mango salsa over the top of each one. Serve immediately.

More from Chef Dayna McLeod

Chickpea burgers
Breakfast quinoa

Photo credit: Estelle Hayes 

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  • Danielle (elleinadspir)

    Great tips and a amazing looking recipe. Can’t wait to try it…hopefully with dry beans, but I often resort to the canned.

  • Melissa

    i want that pantry. seriously, perhaps dayna could give us the 411 on what she perfectly packaged on those shelves?!

  • Tiffanyh4

    that pantry is amazing!!!!

  • mosey along

    Dayna can come organize my pantry anytime.  And I’m looking forward to trying these patties – I’ve found that restaurant black bean “burgers” can often be quite dry – the salsa sounds like just the ticket.