As many of you have read from my Facebook and twitter posts I recently attended a 7-day health immersion through my employer Whole Foods Market over Oct. 28th – Nov. 3rd. down in the seaside resort town of Naples, FL. It was such a beautiful blessing and gift.
The health immersion is run by Dr. Scott Stoll and his team in conjunction with Whole Foods Market. The eating regimen focus is on a plant-based lifestyle. I was the last person I thought would ever consider switching what I now eat over to a plant-based lifestyle. I’d already given up so much when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and now I’m being asked to give up meat, dairy and oils – are you crazy???
Well five days in I was completely convinced. Why after five days you ask? All traces of my Fibromyalgia were gone – yes you are reading this correctly! I didn’t believe it either and it actually brought me to tears. You see aside from living with Celiac Disease, I’d also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a condition which basically turns your body into a big open raw nerve ending, leaving my body unable to filter out pain. It’s been 7 long years I’ve lived with the day-to-day pain. You learn to just manage and get by, but that is no way to live!
I’d tried the usual suspects of pain medications and even took Lyrica for a period of time Lyrica is currently the only drug used to treat Fibromyalgia approved by the FDA. My internist told me she was concerned about the long-term impacts on my gastrointestinal system from taking these medications so I stopped taking them all together. So imagine yourself in my place – seriously a plant-based diet had taken away the pain after only five days? Yes it’s true and I’m incredibly grateful I made the decision to take part in Dr. Scott Stoll’s Total Health Immersion and that my employer cares about my health and well-being.
So after 7 days of maintaining a plant-based lifestyle at the immersion, I headed back home to Austin, TX armed with a boatload of information. Living with Celiac Disease and attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition this last year, I’m very up on nutrition. However, I learned so much over the seven days at the immersion that opened my eyes about my total health and well-being. Proof was in the pudding!
I knew moving over to a plant-based lifestyle would require planning ahead of time, preparing ingredients by bulk cooking during the weekend and being diligent about menu planning so as not to leave myself unprepared, as that’s when I make bad food choices.
My flight home landed in Austin around 6:30pm on a Monday night. I headed straight for Whole Foods to pick up some essentials to get me through the first few days. I’d had a really great veggie burger while at the immersion and I knew I had two large cans of black beans at home. So I picked up the additional fresh ingredients I needed to have these ready for my meals during the week.
It was one of my favorite meals at the immersion all week (aside from the chili) and wanted to share it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and note you can change-up the flavor profile of this burger by swapping out the spices (e.g. use curry seasonings in lieu of tarragon and basil). You can even leave out the bread crumbs as the potatoes will act as a binding agent or swap out potatoes with quinoa.
What’s next? As part of the Total Health Immersion we were introduced to the cooking school Rouxbe.com who are getting ready to launch a plant-based curriculum. Through Rouxbe.com and playing in my kitchen I will be learning how to merge the plant-based lifestyle into my cooking and baking as each week goes by and plan to share my journey here with all of you!
- First put on water on to boil potatoes. I like to use my Le Creuset dutch oven as it cooks the potatoes quicker. While waiting for the potatoes to finish empty black beans into strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Place black beans in a large mixing bowl and add in onions, bread crumbs, garlic/onion seasoning, basil, tarragon, tomatoes, avocado, and vegetable stock. If you use San Marzano canned tomatoes, drain off excess juice. Set aside mixing bowl with ingredients and finish mashed potatoes by draining off water and mashing the potatoes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before adding into mixture.
- Add in 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes and mix well to combine all the ingredients. Add in pepper to taste. Shape into 4-6 patties (depending on how big you shape the patties). I like to use a ring mold to shape these burgers (typically use 4 inch ring mold), using a spoon to press ingredients into mold. Upon removal of the ring mold, adjust ingredients as need with additional vegetable stock if patty appears dry or begins to break apart when removing the ring mold.
- Heat a non-stick large skillet over medium heat. Arrange patties in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to gluten-free buns and top with lettuce, tomatoes and red onions to serve. You could even add a homemade mustard or ketchup. If you're watching your grain intake, use a lettuce wrap in lieu of the gluten-free bun.