A few weeks ago papa tummy, little tummy, and I attended the grand re-opening of Nooch (Denver’s vegan market) to celebrate their new location. They moved to a more central area and into a larger space. Good news for the Denver Veganites since that means business must be good. No explanation needed there. The two owners are compassionate, outspoken, business-smart, and all around amazing if you ask me. They started out small with dreams of being big. They’re well on their way.
Every time I go to Nooch I make a point to find new products to try, which isn’t hard to do. They seem to bring in something new every week. I love following them on FB for that reason. They post updates on what’s in stock in hopes of drawing in customers. Well, it’s working guys. For their grand re-opening they had a few companies come in to provide the crowd with samples. They even had the author of Paleo Vegan and Extraordinary Vegan, Alan Roettinger, there signing books and handing out samples of chocolate truffles. I haven’t looked into these books, but those truffles were amazing so I just might. Anyway, I’m getting off topic.
There was something else that caught my eye that day and the reason for this post. Outside there was a lovely lady giving out samples of sauerkraut. Not just any sauerkraut. Flavorful and fresh and in four different flavors sauerkraut. This new product I speak of is Vibrant Veggies, ordinary veggies made extraordinary. Their tagline is no gimmick. These ordinary veggies are made extraordinary and vibrant with their special blend of spices. The four flavors they offer range from mild to extra spicy in Lemon Ginger, Moroccan Fusion, Vindaloo Curry, and Roasted Green Chile. The nice lady manning the samples urged everyone to try all four and I didn’t hesitate to. It’s hard to choose a favorite. They are each excellent in their own right. It depends on which flavor profile you’re in the mood for.
I chatted up the lady and found out she is the co-founder of Vibrant Veggies, Lorissa. She gave me her card and told me to email her if I had any questions. I did have one question for her, “Do you have plans for any other fermented veggie products?” She answered, “We have talked about expanding our line of fermented foods as we get more established. I would hate to let the cat out of the bag on exactly what before we’ve formed up details. But yes we’re definitely growing and considering the many possibilities of fermented foods.” Well, I can’t wait so here I am attempting to spread the word of their goodness to help them grow.
After snooping around their website I discovered they’re a product of two awesome local Denver chicks that came together to create something beautiful to share with the world. From their mission statement: “We aspire to share RAW, ORGANIC, NOURISHING foods with people everywhere. A few things that are important to our business: WHOLESOME, organic, DELICIOUS food. Doing things that we LOVE and that make us HAPPY. Positive affirmations. GIVING back. Creating HEALING foods serves as an opportunity for us to encourage others to live VIBRANTLY.” Their passion definitely comes through in their words and the food they prepare. No detail escapes them. They adorn positive affirmations on each jar to feed your mind before you stuff your mouth. The picture below is the positive affirmation on my jar. Cleverly placed on the seal as if to say, “You must agree to this before proceeding.” I will do my best, ladies.
You might be wondering what the big deal is about fermented veggies. Here is my short answer: fermenting vegetables allow them to become an excellent probiotic source as the bacteria lactobacillus forms during the process. This bacteria “cooks” the vegetables without really cooking them which means fermented vegetables can be a part of your raw vegan diet. If you’re unsure about the importance of probiotics just know that they help aid your gut in digestion. Something that everyone could use a little of no matter what your diet is. If you are looking for more information check out Vibrant Veggies web site on their More About Fermentation page.
After trying all four I couldn’t wait to buy a jar to do something with. I absolutely loved the Roasted Green Chile flavor. It is their spiciest and you know how I love my food with an extra kick. I’ve been having a lot of green chile lately so I wanted something different. I decided to go with the Vindaloo Curry. As soon as I picked up the jar I got the idea to top it on a curry burger. Curry on curry? What’s wrong with that? Nothing. I got to thinking and decided it would be the perfect thing to use the hemp tofu for that I found. So was born my Curried Hemp Tofu Veggie Burger.
They do offer suggestions on what to eat their kraut with for each flavor. They also say it’s great to eat right out of the jar. I must agree. The jar, being 10 oz., is the perfect snack size for me. I couldn’t resist taking a few bites fresh from opening before I topped the burgers with it.
The veggies are bold in flavor, just as they describe them. They are fresh and crunchy instead of drowned in liquid and soggy like regular kraut is. I can’t imagine not topping my burgers with anything else now. It was honestly the perfect complement. If I have raved about Vibrant Veggies enough for you to start craving them then please give them a try. If they aren’t available where you live then please visit their website and contact them to figure out how to get their products in a store near you.
Now for a burger recipe. As I said, this burger was inspired by the Vindaloo Curry kraut so it’s full of fresh veggies and bold spices. Hopefully, if you aren’t able to get your hands on a jar, some of the flavor I experienced will translate through this recipe. There are a lot of components to this and it does take some time. The good thing is you can make the burger mixture ahead of time, even a day before if you need to, and let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready for it. This will allow time for all the flavors to marry so don’t be wary about leaving it alone for a while. In fact, I recommend it.
A note about the hemp tofu: if you’re not soy-free then go ahead and use regular tofu. Although I would recommend using the soft sort or maybe firm, but definitely not extra firm.
A note about the spices: if you don’t have garam masala then use 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
Curried Hemp Tofu Veggie Burgers
vegan, soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free
Makes 13 patties about 1/2 cup in each. If you don’t need that many it’s easy to half the recipe or you can freeze the leftovers and re-heat in whatever way is convenient for you.
- 1 cup diced carrots, about 25 baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup onion, diced small (equals 1 small onion or 1/2 large)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 1/2 cups zucchini, diced small
- 1 small red pepper, seeded diced small
- 2 cups cooked red quinoa, cooked to a mushy consistency
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 8 ounces original hemp tofu, excess liquid drained
- 1/2 cup tahini, mixed well
- 3 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- Start by steaming the diced carrots for 20 minutes or until they are soft enough to pierce with a fork and fall off on its own.
- While they are steaming heat oil in a medium skillet and saute the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for 5 minutes or until all water has been released and it starts to stick to the pan.
- Remove from heat and add carrots when they are done steaming. Using a potato masher or a fork mash carrots into the sautéed veggies and set aside to cool.
- Add cauliflower florets to a food processor and pulse until it turns into “rice” making sure there are no large chunks left.
- In a large bowl combine onion/carrot mixture with cauliflower, zucchini, bell pepper, quinoa, and cilantro. Crumble in the hemp tofu and stir in the tahini. Use your hands to mix it all up if you want.
- Put all the spices in a spice grinder and pulse until well mixed and the seeds are somewhat crushed. If you don’t have a spice grinder then hand mix the spices and crush the seeds the best you can.
- Add spices to the veggie bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Cover bowl and place in fridge to chill for a few hours.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Form mixture into patties about 1/3 to 1/2 cup in size and place on parchment.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until they look crispy and brown on top. Let cool slightly and serve. Top burgers with what you like or you could serve patties on a salad for a fresh entrée. Enjoy!
I’d like to give a shout out to the maker of the buns I used for these burgers, Gluten Escape, a local gluten-free allergy-friendly bakery. Since becoming gluten-free bread has been the most difficult thing to find in stores. There was one brand (not to be named) that was completely awful. All the other packaged gluten-free bread I have found is not vegan since they either contain milk, eggs, or both. I knew about Gluten Escape long before giving up gluten, but never had a reason to try them… until now. They are the perfect bakery for us since they do not use soy or dairy in any of their goods. The only thing they do use are eggs, but most of their things are egg-free as well.
They have everything from cookies and brownies to biscotti and sandwich bread. So far I have sampled just about everything that we can eat there. All of it has been amazing. You can not be deprived on a gluten-free diet with them around. Their cookies are the best because they make them into big soft round pillows like I like. I absolutely adore their blueberry muffins (I had two for breakfast this morning). I almost forgot to mention they sell Daiya in their cooler too. I would like to sit down and enjoy a beverage with a treat there someday since they do have a good space with tables and chairs. All in good time.
This is just the bread I picked up yesterday: a loaf of millet sandwich bread, a baguette, and more dinner rolls/burger buns.
For now, I wanted to express how excellent these burger buns are. They’re soft and toast up nicely. Most importantly they don’t crumble AT ALL like other dried out gluten-free breads I’ve tried. They come in a pack of four for about $6, which is so worth it to us. Some people use them as dinner rolls, but I decided to split them open and add my burger. They’re big enough to do it, so why not? Maybe they will open up a franchise in the future. Until then, I ‘ll treasure them as Denver’s best kept gluten-free secret.