Vegan Protein-Packed Ancho Bean Burgers

Sad, but true:



We are so lucky to have the knowledge we do about clean eating.  I am continually surprised by how many people legitimately have no clue how to make good food choices.  Not to mention those who just don’t care.

Remember then craziness most of us ate growing up?  Ding Dongs, Pop-Tarts, orange soda… I wouldn’t even think to buy those things now!  (Note: there is a restaurant in Atlanta that makes homemade Ding Dongs… those, I would buy. :) ).


In my adult life, I shop the perimeters of the grocery store.  When I do buy packaged food, I read labels to ensure the ingredient list is recognizable.




No one is perfect.  I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t a couple of questionable items in my freezer.  The point is to eat as clean as you can most of the time.

One of the items I’ve become more aware of are frozen veggie burgers.  I try not to eat many processed foods, but in my constant quest for protein I picked up a box of the burgers for a quick fix.  Then I realized I could quite easily make my own and keep them in the freezer for those times of need.



Beans are one of the top sources of vegan protein; however, I cannot eat enough beans to get my 25g required per meal.  I CAN mix them with other protein sources to amp it up though!

Note: I am not vegan, but I am striving to continue to eat as plant-based as possible while I train for a figure competition.



These ancho chile burgers combine beans, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and vital wheat gluten to deliver a homemade, protein-rich vegan burger.  The chili power and ancho chili pepper in chipotle give it a nice heat (if you’re sensitive to heat simply leave out the ancho chili).

I served one for dinner with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and spinach.  The remaining patties were wrapped up for later meals.



Between the liquid smoke and the grill marks (thanks to Mr. George Foreman and his grill), these bean burgers have turned my cubicle into a lunchtime picnic.  Ok, I exaggerate… but they are tasty! 



Ancho Bean Burgers

Inspired by JL’s Chickpea TVP Burgers.

  • 1/2 C fava beans, cooked
  • 1/2 C cannellini beans, cooked
  • 1/4 cup TVP
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 C onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ancho chili pepper in chipotle, diced
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • S+P,  to taste


In a food processor, pulse the cooked beans (leave some larger pieces).

Combine the TVP and vegetable broth and let stand for 10 mins.  Stir in the Vital Wheat Gluten.

Add the TVP and all remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined.

Refrigerate 1 hour (or overnight).  Form the patties, making them fairly thin so the middle get “cooked” on the grill. Return to the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or over night.  At this point you may place in the freezer for future use.

Set out at room temperate about 30 minutes before grilling.  Cook on a grill pan (or grill if you have one) for ~6-7 mins on each side, or place in George Foreman grill for 6 mins.

Makes 5 4-oz burgers.

Approximate Nutritionals: 116 calories, 0.5g fat, 144mg sodium, 13.6g carbohydrates, 3.8g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 14.3g protein


In 5 days I will be 29 years old.  The last year of my 20s.  How did this happen?!

Is there anything shameful in your freezer or pantry? Make me feel better… lol!

Have you become more health conscious in your “old age,” or did you grow up eating clean?



  1. says

    Happy Early Birthday!!! I’ve definitely become more health conscious as I’ve gotten older! Just more aware of what eating clean and unprocessed is all about! I used to live off Fiber one, light n fit yogurt, and reduced fat skippy in college! Scary now!

    • Laura says

      Thank you!!! I went through one of those phases too. I shudder to think of all the “diet” food chemicals I took in.

  2. says

    I am the exact same way with shopping and not understanding how people buy some of the things they buy. A few years ago, I was doing a review of a cookbook that had a vegan twinkie recipe in it. My boys asked what a twinkie was because they had never had one before. I made the homemade ones and they loved them. They then asked what the others were like. I did buy them some to try…they hated them and asks me to make them from now on. Funny how your preferences are geared towards how you train yourself to eat. I actually think eating right for your body is just like training yourself to exercise. It’s true, sometimes we do give in to things that aren’t so great for us, just like sometimes we would rather not workout…and it’s definitely ok to take a break for these things from time to time. However, for lifelong health and happiness, you are just better off eating clean. I alway ask myself before I eat something, what is this going to do for me not to me.

    Question, have you noticed being thirstier since you’ve upped your protein. The past few weeks have been crazy for me and I can’t seem to get enough water. Then I read up on it and figured out that it is the protein change, which causes a nitrogen buildup in your body. I have also had to pee constantly! Now, I’m not taking in nearly as much as you, but I’m now eating enough to help with my muscle recovery. It’s crazy how little changes like that make such huge changes in our bodies!

    • Laura says

      I love that your boys didn’t like the packaged Twinkies! Thanks for the thoughtful reply – I love the way you think about that the food will be doing for you.

      I haven’t had any problems with the extra protein, but my trainer also have me drinking at least 120oz of water a day. I’m assuming that’s part of the reason he’s having me taking in so much water?

  3. says

    You’re so right Laura about being lucky to be so knowledgeable about nutrition when it comes to making healthy choices! Even if it means spending a few extra moments pondering food labels, I would like to be assured that I am fueling my body with the right foods for the most part! That being said, I have plenty bars of Lindt stashed in my freezer…ironically next to the frozen fruit ;)! There are some foods i eat for my physical health, and others for my mental health :)! Love the sound of these burgers – TVP is my go to for veggie burgers!

  4. says

    Oh sweetie!!!! What a wonderful recipe! I will be trying these, but FIRST I will try your oatless oats! Also, I didn’t tell you! I bought MORE tempeh, so I can make more of your recipes!!!! xoxo

    I would LOVE to know what you have in your freezer 😉 All I have in my freezer are homemade protein zucchini bars, ezekiel products, edamame, and ground turkey! I have had pre made salmon burgers, though. They had quite a bit of additives that is for sure, but I ate them up and will be making my own from now on!

    As for eating more healthy – YES! Oh the things I used to eat….. Or want to eat?? My parents wouldn’t buy me things like “lunchables” or “fruit roll ups”, etc. Thank goodness, but I still did get my hands on some pretty nasty things that make me gag now hahahaha

    Love you Laura! Great post 😀

    • Laura says

      Oh Meg… I just love you! Please let me know what you try and how you like it!! :)

      In my freezer – homemade coconut zucchini muffins, Ezekial stuff, veggie burgers, veggies, bananas, avocado slices, veggie stock (homemade)… and few frozen meals (Amy’s/Kashi for emergencies)… and… ice cream bars (also in case of emergency :) ).

  5. says

    I grew up eating fairly clean, but it was never a conscious thing. My small town didn’t have fast food (or ANY restaurants), and my family has always had a huge garden, so meals were fresh veggie based in the summer and frozen or canned veggie based in the winter. Not that I never had some (or lots) of Chicken McNuggets in my youth (and then there were those awful years in high school where I had a bag of chex mix and a yoohoo for lunch everyday–still arguably healthier than school lunch, though). I try to stick to the basics these days, but yeah, I’m known to buy a Poptart or two on occasion (yeah, they’re awful, but also–SO good), and, while healthier than SOME frozen options, I’m currently obsessed with Amy’s frozen/vegan tamales and have quite a few stocked up in my freezer.

    Love this veggie burger recipe. The frozen ones may be vegetarian, but ugh, they are NOT health food if you actually read the ingredients. Plus homemade is about half the price at most!

    • Laura says

      That’s the great part about small towns – local food by necessity.

      I forgot about those high school lunches… they actually used to serve us massive pizza slices with a side of fries!

      • says

        Ugh, yup, pizza was an option every day, and I don’t think there was a single veggie side option that wasn’t deep fried or otherwise rendered completely unhealthy.

        • Laura says

          Same here! And we had a machine that sold frozen candy bars. Can we have a moment of silence for frozen Snickers bar?

  6. says

    Great idea to combine so many protein sources into a vegan pattie! I agree that sometimes all those “vegan” foods are not even that healthy.. but the worst is when family and friends think they are doing me a favour by buying me soy yogurt. Um, have you looked at the ingredient list? Anyways, I can’t bear to throw things away so I have a few ingredients that are not the best. I try to get Rob to eat them instead. :) And since we have our major move in a year, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and actually make things with said ingredients for him to eat. 😛 That was the best thing about the millet granola, because I threw in some butter and corn syrup in there.. both of which I won’t eat. 😛

    What are your birthday plans??

    • Laura says

      LOL! How nice of you to share with Rob. :)

      It’s a low key year. Just dinner with family and my best friend. Thanks for asking!

  7. says

    Our family always has Chapman’s frozen yogurt in the freezer and my mom’s home-made chocolate chip cookies in the pantry! :)

    We grew up with our parents trying to make sure we ate healthy and were active, but what kid really cares about what’s healthy? Our dream was to bring a thermos full of ice cream to school for lunch! Often our mom would put home-made baked goods in our lunches (brownies with chocolate frosting were my fave!), and sometimes fruit roll-ups and Dunkaroos. But always our actual meals were healthy (Except on the rare occasion where she’d let us bring a honey and brown sugar sandwich to school) 😉

  8. says

    holy shiz this looks delicious, I am continuously amazed by your creativity in the kitchen and focus on protein. it just keeps getting better, I swear your whole recipe page is bookmarked for me.

  9. says

    I LOVE ancho chili powder. I just made a HUGE crock pot of pinto beans so I’ll be trying this out with some beans I have on had, YUM!
    I’m so grateful to live near grocery stores that only have local, fresh, no preservative food options. It really helps me to make better choices in my foods. I also have realized that the “low fat” “low sugar” stuff is way worse than the regular foods in small portions. When I visited my best friend she had a pantry full of “just add water” meals and all kinds of “shit”(for lack of a better word).It’s crazy how many people try to blame bad choices on convenience. Like you said, making ahead and freezing things is the way to go!

    • Laura says

      Pinto beans would be great in there with that ancho!

      You are so right about just having small portions of the “real” thing. And it generally tastes better!

  10. Shari says

    My parents fed me good food growing up but I always wanted the bad food!! It is funny how many things I am learning as I try to eat better were so easy and just right in front of my face the whole time. I cannot judge people for their habits though – some people really just don’t know better and frankly, it is easy to get into food ruts where you just eat the same stuff all the time. Also I have noticed that a lot of the people I look up to for healthy eating tips and things tan the crap out of their skin, drink, and smoke which are just as bad! Now THAT I don’t get, most people will admit they are struggling but I don’t get saying one thing is bad and turning around and doing something else that is just as harmful to their body. Then I think… it’s not my job to care about what they are doing, *I* am my job and the focus goes back to me :)

  11. says

    I really need to get around to making my own vegetarian burgers. I just never do it.

    My mom fed me pretty well as a child. She never bought junk food except on special occasions and as consequence, I rarely buy it myself. I don’t think I have anything questionable in my freezer, but there is ALWAYS nutella on hand in my house, just in case of emergencies. Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is essential for life.

  12. says

    Do mini mint oreo ice cream sandwiches & peanut m&ms count as shameful? If so, guilty as charged…. These burgers look delicious!!! I was fed pretty well as a child too, but not perfectly. In college I went rogue and ate (and drank) so much junk it was terrible… I’m much better these days…

  13. says

    I got a little giddy when I saw that these contain fava beans! (I am in the process of writing a post on them! I am a big fan of them.) I know just what you mean about store-bought veggie burgers. They used to be a staple in our house, but these days, I just can’t bring myself to buy them. I haven’t quite found “the” perfect homemade version that is gluten free yet, but I won’t give up trying. I’m sure the vital wheat gluten is pretty essential in this recipe–or do you think I could leave it out?
    As for shameful products in our house…there is a bag of Lego candy leftover from my son’s birthday party last month, full of sugar and artificial colors. But all the other shameful products that ever enter our house usually don’t last long enough to get put in the freezer or pantry!

    • Laura says

      I think it would work with another flour-like substance. You could try it with GR oat flour… and let me know if you do!

  14. says

    What a cool recipe. You know, I think 20-30 years ago we didn’t have the knowledge we do today but I also think processed foods have gotten worse so we have to pay more attention than we did back then. I might have grown up eating slightly healthier than the average household but once I figured everything out on my own as an adult I’m definitely the healthiest eater in my family by far.

    • Laura says

      That’s a really good point. I can’t wait for the pendulum to swing back to more natural foods… it seems like we’re getting some good momentum with the pink slime and the NY sugar debates.

  15. says

    Transitioning to a cleaner, more plant-based diet has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself: Mind, body, and soul. My energy is way up, my body is leaner and stronger, I sleep like a baby, and all kinds of “chronic” nagging ailments like migraines and restless-leg syndrome went away when I stopped eating processed foods. (Restless leg! I know!)

    I do wish I could bring other people with me on this journey to cleaner food and cleaner (and greener!) living, but not everybody’s ready or willing. And that’s okay: You can’t hug every cat.

    These sound great! I’m a sucker for a homemade veggie burger. (Do you know Lukas Volger’s fantastic book “Veggie Burgers Every Which Way?” It’s one of the only cookbooks I still use — I love it!)

    • Laura says

      Its amazing how that happens, right? My years of insomnia were magically cured!

      *Love* that video! LOL!

      I don’t know that book… which is your favorite? Did you post about it?

      • says

        As a matter of fact… My favorite recipe of Lukas’s is for baked falafel patties: They work either as hamburger-size discs or as more traditional falafel-size balls, and are super delicious. LINK He also has a beet-and–brown rice burger (LINK) that I’m nuts for, because I’m a beet fanatic.

        The best thing about the book is that it’s separated into burger styles—grain-based, bean-based, veggie-based, and soy-based—and also has a bunch of delicious condiments and sides (and rolls!) as well. Seriously, one of my favorite cook books. I could eat a veggie burger every damn day.

        • Laura says

          Thank you so much for sharing these! I think I’ll be ordering this cook book ASAP. That beet burger looks insanely good!

  16. says

    These are gret tips – even my hot dogs were totally different than the ones I ate growing up
    Organic, nitrate free and lean! It’s to know what we do – but it needs to be knowledge more widely available and food choices that are more affordable for everyone! Good food shouldn’t just be a privilege!

  17. says

    I’m like you. I shop around the edges of the square in a supermarket. These veggie burgers look terrific and yes, very good for you and not a nasty ingredient in sight! xx

  18. says

    What??!! You’re telling me that Hostess Apple Pies are unhealthy?? No way!!

    Want to see depressing food stores and situation?? Try coming to Casper WY. Scary what some of the mass will consume and accept as “healthy.” How bad is it? I dropped nearly a buck fifty on produce and healthy items from Whole Foods during a trip to Colorado so that our frig was acceptable. Talk about the longest grocery run in history.

  19. says

    My mum feeds me fine though i love the junky extras and I think I always will – why else do we own treadmills 😉
    Gorgeous looking vege burgers, they really have some flavour kicks!



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