This post is sponsored by Fit Approach and Sunshine Burgers. I received complimentary products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are 100% mine.
Plant-based Protein – Perfect for Athletes!
I’m not a vegan. I’m not a vegetarian. I’ve even been known to enjoy a good medium rare steak from time to time. But I also really enjoy meat-free meals, especially when I’m cooking for myself. I’m a picky eater, so sometimes I find it really difficult to incorporate good, non-meat sources of protein into my diet. And as a marathon runner, getting enough protein in my diet is of particular importance! As a rule of thumb, athletes require more dietary protein than the average adult.
Why Sunshine Burgers?
Plant-based burgers might seem like an odd choice for a non-vegan, non-vegetarian like myself. But I was actually really excited to do this review because a) I’ve tried veggie burgers in the past and have enjoyed them, and b) I need a lunch alternative that doesn’t involve a bowl, milk, and a fun prize inside. (No, seriously. My Fruity Pebbles addiction is out of control.)
First, the basics. Sunshine Burgers are made with certified organic, verified Non-GMO whole food ingredients, free of gluten, soy, corn, canola, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, or eggs. All of their products are:
- Vegan – entirely plant-based, meaning that they do not contain meat, eggs, dairy products, or any other animal-derived ingredient.
- Non-GMO – do not include any genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Certified USDA Organic – meet the rigorous standards of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).
Gluten-Free – do not contain any gluten, wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, malts, or triticale.
Sunshine Burgers come in a variety of flavors:
- Garden Herb/Original – the original recipe best-selling item. It has only five ingredients: cooked brown rice, raw ground sunflower kernels, carrots, herbs, and sea salt. It is GREEN, so don’t let that surprise you! It has a mild and versatile flavor that makes it great for recipes or on its own.
- Black Bean South West – loaded with TexMex flavors like jalapeño, cilantro, and black beans.
- Loco Chipotle – similar to the Black Bean South West burger but bigger – and with a bigger kick! It’s 50% bigger than the South West and is made with sprouted rice, black beans, hemp and chia seeds, and chipotle pepper.
- Shiitake Mushroom – made with organic quinoa and real Shiitake Mushrooms, not a mushroom blend. It is the only recipe other than Garden Herb/Original which does NOT include beans.
- Falafel – inspired by the Falafel vendors in lower Manhattan!
- Breakfast Hemp & Sage – resulted from a request for a breakfast patty—but it really has a Thanksgiving vibe which makes it appropriate any time of day. Adzuki beans, hemp seeds, and sage give it a delicious, hearty flavor.
The awesome folks at Sunshine Burgers sent me all 6 flavors to sample. And they were all good! My favorite is the Loco Chipotle, with Black Bean South West at a close second. I love that the burgers come full cooked, so they’re super quick and convenient – just heat them up and they’re ready to eat. They can be heated on a stove top, in an oven, on a grill, in the microwave, or even in a toaster oven. They’re held together by brown rice starch, so you might find them to be a bit more crumbly than a typical veggie burger. This made them a little tough to eat with a fork, but they were perfect on a bun or in crumbles. Once thawed, the burgers can even be formed into different shapes (meatballs, sliders, etc.).
The Sunshine Burgers website has some great vegan recipes that you can make with their products. I used a burger to create a recipe of my own – it wasn’t a vegan recipe, but it was meatless and delicious. Here’s how I did it:
Meatless South West Black Bean Burrito
- 1 Black Bean South West Sunshine Burger
- 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed & drained
- 2 T pico de gallo
- 1/4 cup Montery Jack cheese, shredded
- 1 flour tortilla
- sour cream (optional)
- Wrap Sunshine Burger in moist paper towels and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 60 seconds.
- Heat flower tortilla according to package directions.
- Place Sunshine Burger in the center of the tortilla and use fingers to gently crumble it.
- Heat black beans in the microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power (or as needed with your own microwave).
- Spread black beans on top of the crumbles.
- Spread pico de gallo and cheese on top of the beans.
- Roll the tortilla to form a burrito, tucking in the ends.
- Serve warm with sour cream on the side.
YUM! This made a quick and very filling lunch, and it tasted great. The texture was fine – unremarkable to a meat-eater like me, which I think is common complaint about vegetarian or vegan products. My recipe isn’t vegan, but I think it’s a great basic recipe that you can adjust to your liking and dietary preferences.
Sunshine Burgers are widely distributed in natural/organic markets including Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts, Natural Grocers Vitamin Cottage, most co-ops, and many independent grocers. They are also available in some major supermarket chains which support organic brands, like Publix, Safeway, Hannaford, H-E-B, Wegmans, Price Chopper, Raley’s, Fred Meyer, QFC, Shaw’s, and Market Basket. If you live in the Jacksonville, Florida area (like me), you can find them at Publix and in our local chain, Native Sun. You can find lots of other locations by using the Sunshine Burgers Store Locator.
When I first found out about all the veggie burgers that I’d be receiving (a lot!) I’d planned to give them away to some of my more veggie-centric friends. But now? I think I’m going to keep them. (Sorry. But come over for lunch! I’m making burritos.)