K-State dietitian Camille Korenek said she had a personal reason for choosing to build a protein-rich bean-based burger.
“I have a daughter who has recently become health conscious,” Korenek said, “so I put flax seeds in, I put in toasted walnuts, there’s quinoa and brown rice in there- in it, and of course the beans.”
Korenek and Kristi Baonga, both Registered Dietitians at K-State, were finalists in the recent Build the Best Bean Burger competition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Baonga and Korenek both belong to a practice group called Food and Culinary Professionals that ran the contest in partnership with CannedBeans.org, a subsidiary of Bush’s Best Beans.
Baonga’s Thai Sweet Chili Burger was a finalist in the competition. She’s been a dietitian for nine years, staying at K-State after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2013. Shortly after, she said she started working with Korenek, whom she calls “Ms. K.” Baonga recently earned her master’s degree in dietetics through a K-State online program.
“It’s a mixed burger, so I have chickpeas and ground turkey,” Baonga said, “and then inside that mix there’s also sesame seeds, crushed red peppers , panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, fresh cilantro, garlic, ginger and green onion.”
Baonga said it’s an easy concoction to make in the food processor, with patties ready for the grill in about 10 minutes. His burger is then topped with a Thai chili mayonnaise and a ring of pickled red onion, all on a pretzel bun.
Korenek’s vegan creation is a Greek red bean burger with smoked herb and kalamata olive aioli. She said she used plain canned kidney beans from Walmart, and in an effort to reduce waste, she used the juice from the beans to create an emulsion with flaxseed to mimic the binding abilities of a egg. His burger also includes mushrooms and green peppers folded into the patty.
Originally from Louisiana, Korenek needs to add some spice, and she said she has some sort of secret ingredient for everything.
“Smoked paprika, I love that,” Korenek said. “When I get home (to Louisiana), I go to the spice shop and they smoked sweet paprika and a hot smoked, so I have both in my spice cabinet.”
A registered dietitian for 33 years, Korenek earned her master’s degree in food science from Texas A&M University. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. She said students on campus are “beginning to expand their palettes.”
“We even have several cooks who can’t stand spice,” Korenek said, “and that’s understandable. For some people it’s bad for their health, and some people just weren’t brought up that way.
Baonga said she was raised to like and appreciate spicy food, hence the use of Thai chili peppers in her burger. Part of her new position as menu editor for KSU Housing and Dining Services is to add more plant-based foods and healthier alternatives to the lineup.
“A lot of the students coming in are freshmen,” Baonga said, “and it’s at a time in their lives where they’re in this transition mode, maybe they’re away from home for the first time, so show up or at it’s important to at least give them the opportunity to try something different.
Baonga said college dietitians are planning new programs that will emphasize healthier grocery shopping and teaching cooking as a life skill. These will potentially be available to students in the spring semester. There are also food production management courses for dietetics students at the Kramer Dining Center. The Derby and Kramer Dining Centers on campus have senior dietetics students spending about 35 hours a week there as part of their final management course.
“It’s an eight-credit hour course where we teach them all about facility management to become future dietitians,” Korenek said, adding that the profession has grown. She said the old “lunch lady” stereotype is pervasive and can be crushed by the education and experience of herself and other K-State dietitians.
Interestingly, Korenek said neither woman knew they entered the bean burger contest.
“It was pretty fun to find out,” Korenek said.
Yield: 6 burgers, 4 oz patty
Time: Preparation time = 10 minutes Total time = 20 minutes
1 can (16 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 pretzel buns, buttered and lightly toasted
1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
2 tablespoons fresh green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pickled red onion
Method of preparation (instructions)
1. In a food processor, place the rinsed and drained chickpeas, garlic, cilantro, green onion, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, kosher salt and sesame seeds and secure the lid . Pluse or chop on low speed until ingredients are combined and chickpeas are coarsely chopped.
2. In a mixing bowl, transfer the chickpea mixture and add the raw ground turkey, eggs and panko breadcrumbs. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until well incorporated. Form six patties of about 4 oz each.
3. In an oiled skillet, over medium heat, cook the patties until golden brown and slightly crispy and they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. (About 4 minutes per side).
4. While the burgers are cooking, place the mayonnaise and Thai sweet chili sauce in a small bowl and whisk together until well combined. Prepare the toppings and toast the pretzel buns.
5. Place cooked patty on bun, top with a healthy drizzle of Thai Chili Mayo and desired amount of suggested toppings. Enjoy!
Food processor, medium mixing bowl, small bowl, large nonstick skillet, chef’s knife, cutting board, small whisk, plastic spatula
Greek Red Bean Burger with Smoked Herbs and Kalamata Olive Aioli
Timing: actually the cooking time is 26 minutes, total time = 40 minutes
1 C. Olive oil divided in an oil pan and skillet or griddle
15.5 ounces canned kidney beans, drained with liquid saved
2 tbsp + 1 tsp ground flax seeds
1/3 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons crispy fried onions
1 1/2 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dry leaf
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup green bell peppers, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
3 tablespoons microwave-ready brown rice and quinoa
Aioli with smoked herbs and Kalamata olives
1/2 tsp. Olive oil for drizzling the head of garlic
1/8 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tbsp. Fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. Fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
Burger Assembly Ingredients
8 leaves of fresh spinach
8 cucumber slices, 1/8 inch
4 slices of tomato, 1/4 inch
4 slices of red onion, 1/8 inch
4 tablespoons feta cheese (optional)
Method of preparation (instructions)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Oil a cookie sheet with ½ teaspoon of olive oil. Place the chopped walnuts in one corner, spread the drained kidney beans on the opposite half, place a whole head of garlic in the last corner. Drizzle the head of garlic with ½ tsp. olive oil. Roast 10 mins. Remove the toasted nuts and set aside for step 6. Continue roasting the beans and garlic for an additional 8 minutes until most of the beans are slightly dry and open and the garlic is tender when pressed. Remove from oven.
2. While the beans are roasting, add the ground flax seeds to the reserved bean juice and let thicken for 5 minutes. Add the oregano leaves, paprika, Old Bay and balsamic vinegar to the thick bean juice. Wait for step 6, assembly of the pancake.
3. While the basted garlic roasts, chop the olives, basil and parsley. Add yogurt, mayonnaise, squeezed lemon juice and paprika to previous chopped items. Mix and hold so that the roasted garlic complements the aioli.
4. Chop the green pepper. Hold for step 6.
5. Place 2 tbsp. crispy fried onions, mushrooms and roasted kidney beans in a food processor. Pulse until dish is chopped. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl.
6. To the chopped mixture from step 5, add the thick bean juice and seasoning mix from step 2, oats, quinoa and brown rice, toasted walnuts and green peppers. Mix all ingredients by hand with a spoon until well blended. The mixture will appear a little soft for shaping.
7. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly oil with ½ teaspoon of olive oil.
8. Scoop ½ tsp. measuring cup of bean burger mix. Take 1 tablespoon of fried onions and place them directly on the griddle in a small circle about 2 inches in diameter. Using a small spoon or rubber spatula, scrape the bean mixture from the measuring cup into a small mound directly over the fried onions. Shape the mound into a patty about 3 ½ inches in diameter by slightly flattening and pushing down the sides with a metal burger spatula. Repeat with the other 3 patties.
9. Top each patty with another 1 tablespoon crispy onions sprinkled and lightly pushed into the burger. Cook the burgers for 4 minutes on one side until golden and crispy. Carefully flip the burgers and cook for an additional 4 minutes on the other side. While the burgers cook, press the roasted garlic flesh over the head and toss with the aioli from step 3.
10. Assemble the burgers by placing the burger patty on the bun, add about 2 tablespoons aioli, spinach, tomato, cucumber, red onion slice and feta. The assembled burgers can also be cut into 4 wedges and the aioli can be used as a dipping sauce.
Baking sheet, oven, food processor, electric griddle or large skillet, chef’s knife, cutting board, measuring cups, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, mixing spoons, rubber spatula, hamburger spatula.