Healthy Living

Popular 'Fruit' Drinks For Kids Found To Be Unhealthy

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Parents around the country are always trying to make sure their children are eating a nutritious diet — that’s why it was so shocking when an eye-opening new study revealed their kid’s favorite seemingly-healthy drinks are loaded with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Researchers analyzed 34 sweetened drinks and found that two-thirds contained no juice, but images of fruit appeared on 85% of the packages, according to a new report from the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Packaging with pictures of fruit and other nutritional claims have left both parents and kids thinking these drinks contain fruit and sources of nutrition. In reality, many kids end up consuming more than the recommended amount of daily added sugar.

“Labels on drinks are confusing and misleading, causing parents to think they are providing their children a healthy drink when in actuality they are not,” said Natalie Muth, MD, pediatrician and representative of the APP. “The American Academy of Pediatrics is alarmed that children consume so much added sugar.”

According to the study:

  • Sugary drinks make up about one-half of all added sugar consumed by children.
  • Fruit-flavored juice drinks with added sweeteners are the most common sugary drink consumed by young children, toddlers and preschoolers.
  • One serving of 11 of the top fruit drinks had more than 50% of the recommended amount of daily added sugar for children.

“I know that parents want their children to be healthy, but the sweetened drink market is just incredibly confusing to parents,” said lead author Jennifer Harris, the principal investigator for the study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Many popular kids’ drinks in the country contain 0% juice while plastering images of fruit on their labeling and advertising. Making a switch to something healthy seems like a simple choice, but kids will be demanding a flavorful alternative beyond the pediatrician-recommended options of water and milk.

If you are looking for a tasty replacement for the sugary drinks in your family’s life, look no further than our Minerals & Antioxidants drink mix. Meant for use as a dietary supplement, it’s packed with electrolytes, amino acids and other nutrients from a blend of nutritious sea vegetables and superfruits. With delicious Cherry and Tropical Fruit flavors, the kids will never know! As with all Life’s Abundance products, it does not contain any added sugar or artificial flavors. There are even fun recipe ideas to try, like Mango Tropsicles. As always, consider talking to your family physician before introducing new supplements.

The next time you are in the ‘juice’ aisle at the store being bombarded by vibrant packaging and maybe even your kid’s pleas, remember this study and feel confident in your decision to skip the sugary drinks.

Creating Comfort Food With Added Nutrition

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For years, parents have been figuring out ways to sneak nutrition into meals, creating a generation of kids who didn’t know their brownies had actually been spiked with veggies.

And that’s a good thing! Food doesn’t have to necessarily taste healthy in order for it to be good for you. From gooey side dishes to decadent desserts, we all have our go-to dishes when we just need a little comfort.

Here are some popular meals that adults and kids agree are delicious — with a few tricks to boost their nutritional content:

Mashed Potatoes

We all know there’s nothing better in the world than a pile of velvety-soft mashed potatoes, layered with butter, milk and perhaps, a bit of sour cream. But you don’t have to take out any of your favorite ingredients. Instead, try adding mashed cauliflower. Cauliflower blends smoothly with the flavor of the potatoes and is loaded with vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

Casseroles

Lasagna, green beans, cheesy hash brown breakfasts — there are so many delicious casseroles out there! The only problem with them is they tend to be weighed down by a lot of cheese, carbs and fats (of course, that’s what makes them comforting and delish).

But did you know that you can doctor up your casseroles with plenty of healthy ingredients to make them both palatable and healthy? Some examples include using steamed fresh veggies instead of canned, brown rice instead of white, whole-grain pasta and low-fat sour cream or milk.

“A casserole gives you an opportunity to mix a whole bunch of cancer-protective foods in a single dish,” said Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research to WebMD. “It’s a way to combine beans, whole grains and vegetables.”

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Ground Flaxseed Meal

An easy way to get a little more fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet is by adding ground flaxseed meal to your food. There are plenty of ways to add a teaspoon here and there — try putting it in your meatloaf, baked goods or oatmeal.

It also tastes great (and by that, we mean undetectable) in an old lunchbox staple, the peanut butter sandwich. Just plop a spoonful in the peanut butter, stir it up … and voila!

Desserts

There’s many ways to make desserts a little more nutritious without losing the treat factor. Have you ever tried adding pureed carrots and spinach to a brownie mix?

One simple way to add protein to your dessert is to slip in some vanilla or chocolate plant-protein powder. You can add this to a milkshake, pumpkin pie or a batch of cookies for a sweet flavor boost that’s as good for you as it tastes.

We’re always sharing recipes for sweet, nutritious treats. Check out our recipes for Vegan Berry Nice Cream, Angel Food Cake, and Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies at home today!

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Remember — watch your serving size, eat a variety of foods and remember that treats, even comfort foods, should be enjoyed and not fully avoided. The key is moderation. Bon appetit!

How To Eat A Plant-Based Diet On A Budget

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While just a decade ago it was tricky and costly to go vegan or vegetarian, it’s much easier today to embrace a healthy plant-based diet. Some people still hesitate to take the plunge for one reason – the myth that eating a plant-based diet is just too expensive. Don’t you need a lot of costly exotic ingredients?

The answer is no! While investing in a healthy diet is a great idea for everyone, you don’t need to buy a lot of fancy foods to sustain this lifestyle. If you strip it down to the basics, you will find that anyone can afford a plant-based diet on a minimal budget. With a little bit of know-how, a healthy diet packed with nutrients and bursting with taste will fit your budget without breaking the bank.

 

Here are a few affordable plant-based diet tips to get you started:

 

Prepare your own food

The surest way to rack up an expensive food budget is to eat out at restaurants all the time. Most restaurants, even fast-food joints, offer plant-based options at a premium. Dining out should be an occasional treat or avoided altogether if you're on a strict budget. Save by packing your own work lunch and keeping a stash of veggie-friendly snacks in the car so you won’t be tempted to give in to expensive cravings. Try making a vegan smoothie with our delicious vanilla or chocolate plant-based protein powder and some frozen fruit for an inexpensive and healthy snack.

Embrace whole foods

Whole foods are plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. They are not only healthy and packed with the essential nutrients your body needs, but sometimes they can be the affordable choice too. For example, a banana is cheaper than a bag of chips and a baked potato is cheaper than fries.

These are some super-healthy and nutrient-dense foods to focus on:

  • Fruits – In-season fresh fruits are budget-friendly, so check out your farmer’s market for deals. Dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, and dates are a great, inexpensive snack that can satisfy any sweet tooth.
  • Vegetables – Leafy greens and fresh, in-season veggies are kind to your wallet. Expect to pay a bit more for organic food – they'll be less expensive when they’re in season, so buy them and freeze for later. You can even mix a drink with our Greens Blend for a blend of raw, organic grasses and mushrooms.
  • Beans and Legumes – Dried beans such as pinto, navy, black, and garbanzo are very inexpensive when bought in bulk, rather than the canned varieties. Lentils of all colors are also affordable and packed with nutrients.
  • Starches – Yams, potatoes, pumpkin, brown rice, oats, bulgur wheat, barley, millet, oats, and whole-grain pasta are inexpensive and filling. Starchy foods are an important source of energy and provide nutrients including B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate.
  • Proteins – Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans and are considered whole sources of protein. Nuts are packed with protein and are uber-portable.  For extra cost-savings, you can even grind your own tasty nut butter at home!

Buy in Bulk

Whether you’re buying a larger family-sized package or browsing the bins at your local health food store, it can really pay off to up-size your purchases. You’ll get a much better value than smaller packages, mainly because you’re not paying for the packaging. Check the store’s unit pricing labels to find out the exact cost per ounce, pound, or liter so that you can easily compare and find the cheapest option. Buying from the bulk bins can easily save close to half the price of a packaged product, and as a plus, you can determine exactly how much -- or little – you want to buy.

Prepare Simple Recipes

Quick and easy vegetarian or vegan recipes are surprisingly inexpensive. Look for recipes that keep the ingredients list to a minimum – aim for 5 ingredients or less. Simple doesn't have to mean boring, though. Start with a starch as your base and build your meal around that with flavorful ingredients, herbs, and spices. For example, rustic mushroom risotto with rice, mushrooms, veggie stock, and plant milk, or spinach, tofu, and cashew cream vegetarian lasagna. How about a spicy onion, bell pepper, tofu, and pineapple stir fry over rice?

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If you were considering making a change, these tips will get you started towards eating a plant-based diet affordably. Once you make the commitment and begin, we'd love to hear other creative ways you discover that help you stick with your healthy new routine!

4 Ways to Embrace Self Improvement Month

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The myth that self improvement is difficult can lead you to put off your goals for way too long. It’s time to change that!

Given that September is Self Improvement Month, now is the perfect time, If you’re ready to focus on bettering yourself, start by making small changes. After only a month or two of attention to these new ways of life, they will rewire your brain and become habits rather than efforts.

Here are four easy adjustments to jumpstart your self improvement, find greater serenity and love who you see in the mirror!

1. Clear Clutter
Believe it or not, clutter is a reliable stress indicator. The more cluttered your environment, the less likely you are to feel mentally balanced and physically healthy. If you’ve wanted to tackle clutter for a long time, start now. You’ll notice a stress decrease immediately.

A clutter-free environment will also make it easier to assess what you have and what you still want. For example, many people are surprised to discover that once they get rid of half their clothes, they quite like their remaining wardrobe! The clarity then allows you to identify what you might add to your life — a new chair, a fresh fuzzy blanket, or even a replacement set of spoons.

Narrowing down your possessions to know exactly what you have rather than simply replacing everything that’s lost in the mess allows you to be much more intentional. You’ll find that buying items that you really desire and believe in is a much more cost effective strategy. You can even take this opportunity to pursue more environmentally friendly and less toxic purchases.

2. Adjust Your Diet
One reason you might feel physically drained is due to diet, but it’s easier than you think to make adjustments that lower your sugar consumption, keep you fuller and increase your nutrient intake. Here are four changes to start with:

  • Clean out the fridge and start using clear containers. This will give you an unobstructed view of the fresh, healthy food available to you.
  • Switch out soft drinks for seltzer water — if you want to switch it up try our Minerals & Antioxidants or Greens Blend mixes.
  • Replace white bread with organic whole grain options (many of which are just as soft and even tastier than white).
  • Add a veggie to every meal, even if it’s just a small pile of spinach, a handful of cherry tomatoes or sliced peppers.

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3. Tackle Your Finances
It’s hard to imagine a bigger source of dread than finances, but financial wellbeing is absolutely critical if you’re to be a happy and serene person. Again, start small. Clean out that teetering pile of old bills and file them in folders or shred them. Once you “declutter” your finances a bit, start tracking your expenses, categorize your spending, and set money-saving goals.

4. Begin Exercising
Because so many people find exercising intimidating, we’ve saved it for last. Once you have other habits in place, you’ll find it less scary to start a fitness routine. First off, don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately see drastic weight loss. Research shows that you need to handle that through diet, so when you start a regimen and don’t see massive pound shedding, don’t fret.

Instead, think of exercise as a gift to your heart, blood vessels, brain and muscles. Even a 10-minute walk around the block at lunchtime or a quick evening jaunt with the doggo is a great first step. If you keep it up, you will pick up steam naturally.

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See? There's nothing on this list that you can't do, and it’s not hard to see that small changes can have big benefits. Choose one of these to start today, looking not for perfection or huge results, but rather for consistency. With a little dedication you’ll be amazed by how these changes stack up over time, leaving you with an overall greater sense of fulfillment!

Vegan Berry Nice Cream Recipe

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It’s summertime and it’s peak berry season — so you know what that means. It’s time for a berry infused frozen treat! Everyone will come running to try this delicious nice cream recipe, packed with vegan protein. It’s a healthy, simple and extremely satisfying snack.

Ingredients

  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries (or frozen fruit of your choice)
  • 1 scoop Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein
  • ½ cup coconut milk

Directions
Peel three ripe bananas and freeze in an airtight container overnight. In a high speed blender, combine the frozen bananas, frozen raspberries, Vanilla Plant Protein and coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately or store in the freezer.

Cherry Lime Refresher

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If the dog days of summer call out for anything (aside from a fully functioning central air system) it’s a bright, cool, refreshing beverage. And should that beverage also replenish your body’s supply of minerals and antioxidants, so much the better!

Our culinary team has concocted what we hope will instantly become your new favorite beverage from your first thirst-quenching gulp. It's bright as the noon-day beach, bursting with a snappy, sweet flavor and brimming with the nutrients that summer bodies crave, thanks to our fabulously nourishing Minerals & Antioxidants Drink Mix.

Best of all, it's a simple recipe, one you can mix to perfection in mere moments. In fact, we're willing to wager that your taste buds will tingle with anticipation just reading over our recipe! Get ready to wow your friends and family when you serve this drink at your next summer cookout.

Without any further ado, say "hello" to our brand new summer apéritif, Cherry Lime Refresher.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

In a shaker bottle, muddle the cherries. Add cranberry juice, lime juice and ice. Cover and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass, then stir in Minerals & Antioxidants. Slowly fill the remainder of glass with the club soda or lemon-lime soda. Stir. Serve with a garnish of lime.

5 Considerations When Choosing Supplements

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There are many wonderful ways to give your health a dietary boost these days, but determining which supplements are best for you can be daunting. The choice for the perfect supplements for your needs really depends upon who you are ... your body’s unique requirements and your personal goals.

If we know anything it's that the internet is rife with unsubstantiated claims and, frankly, bunk recommendations for healthy products that don’t come anywhere near to living up to their hype. Before you start buying nutritional supplements, please carefully consider the following five criteria.

1. Medicinal Intake
Consider your current health and any medicines you’re taking because they might leech your body of necessary vitamins and minerals. For instance, if you regularly take an antibiotic, you might need a probiotic supplement to help keep your gut flora healthy. Or if you’re taking hydroxychloroquine for an autoimmune issue, you’ll need to monitor your folic acid intake. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist when prescribed a new medication to see if you need to supplement your diet during the course of treatment. Additionally, you would be wise to ask if the supplements you are already taking might be contraindicated by your medications.

2. Prevention Goals
Some of us might be worried about a specific ailment (such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) and seek a supplement that could possibly aid in prevention. If this is something you’re concerned about, do your research! Learn which supplements contain the nutritional benefits you are seeking and whether or not there’s science to back up any benefit claims. But don’t trust just anyone, make sure your decisions are based on quality information. A good place to start is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health or consult your doctor.

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3. Age
As we grow older, our bodies require additional levels of certain nutrients to stay healthy. Older women tend to experience bone loss (which can lead to an increased risk of fractures), so adding extra calcium is usually a good idea. Older men might need extra dietary fiber if Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are sources of worry. If you’re older than 50, ask your doctor or you might want to check out the National Institute on Aging for helpful vitamin and mineral recommendations (they have loads of other great nutritional information as well)!

4. Gender
The fact is, men and women have different dietary needs. Women tend to need more iron and calcium, while men are often deficient in, well, quite frankly, just about everything. So taking your sex into consideration could be more important than you think.

5. Current Diet
This is really the baseline for everything. Maybe you are strictly following a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high fat), or you’re a vegan or you eat whatever you please. No matter what foods you consume, you should keep close track of your diet for a week and then analyze it to identify any nutritional gaps. Common deficits include fiber, vitamins D and E, probiotics and fish oils. For example, one person may eat a lot of fish and white rice, but forget to add fibrous fruits and veggies. Another might regularly eat veggies and fruits, but not enough protein. This is a healthy exercise in that, once you see what you might be lacking, you can make a more targeted effort in your meal planning. Furthermore, now that you recognize your dietary deficits, you'll be much better equipped to determine which quality supplements (such as a multivitaminfish oil caps or plant protein) you need to maintain balanced nutritional intake.

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Once you've had time to run through all of these considerations, you will be so much more confident that your next steps will actually be tailored to your needs. When you're ready to shop for nourishing supplements, we hope you'll keep Life's Abundance in mind to help fulfill your nutritional supplement needs!

Ultimate BBQ Sauce – Father’s Day Recipe

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Question: What's the quickest way to get your dad to say "awesome sauce"?

Answer: This recipe!

Looking for a fun way to celebrate Father's Day? If you're like many Americans, firing up the outdoor grill is action item #1 on Sunday's to-do list. And who can blame us? There's the summer sun. The comraderie of friends and family gathered together. Cool, refreshing drinks. And, of course, seriously tasty foods. With this fantastic BBQ sauce, you better believe there will be loads of tasty foods.

Our BBQ sauce is not just sweet, tangy and spicy. It's made with the health-promoting power of certified-organic greens and certified-organic mushrooms! Our Greens Blend supplement nourishes with our proprietary blend of reishi, maitake and shitake mushrooms (a superb source of iron and B vitamins) and raw greens (a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants).

Perhaps best of all, it's super easy to make! Let's get to the details ...

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 cup organic ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/6 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients (except Greens Blend) in a sauce pan over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in Greens Blend. That's it, your homemade BBQ sauce is complete! Serve right away as a condiment, marinate your meats or store in the refrigerator to use whenever you want. Use as a dipping sauce for stuffed potato skins, as a spicy condiment on your burger or even as a sumptuous marinade for ribs, chicken or salmon.

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This Father's Day, give your dad something he'll really enjoy! Who knows, it may end up being his favorite thing of the day!

4 Tricky Fruits & Veggies Worth the Effort

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We have to respect a fruit that can draw blood just by grazing your flesh. But once tamed, the pineapple delivers a bounty of health benefits: antioxidant vitamins A and C, copper, manganese and bromelain, which is thought to ease inflammation. Plus, buying a whole pineapple versus pre-sliced or frozen chunks can save you some cash. And it sure tastes a lot more flavorful and juicier.

But, you might be asking yourself, how the heck do I even approach a pineapple without losing an appendage? Armed with a little know-how, victory can be yours but first, the preliminaries:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before you start handling food.
  • Remove any damaged or bruised areas. If you suspect it could be rotten, toss it out.
  • Thoroughly wash the food under running water. It’s okay to scrub firmer produce with a brush.

So don’t be intimidated. Grab a sharp knife and claim your birthright:

Pineapple

What to Look For
A ripe pineapple is mostly firm but will give ever-so-slightly when you squeeze it. The color should be a consistent golden yellow (but a little green is OK), and the base should smell sweet and bright.

How to Prepare
Chop off the top and base. Next, prop that puppy up lengthwise and use a serrated knife to carefully saw off the spiky skin, top to bottom. Then you can cut it into chunks or slice it into rounds as desired.

Artichoke

One of earth’s natural diuretics, the artichoke has a reputation for fighting bloat. But this vegetable has more than one trick up its thorny sleeve. Rich in fiber and folate, it also has tons of vitamins C and K, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium. Sure, you could buy a can of artichoke hearts but why deny yourself the pleasure of eating the leaves — or the satisfaction of conquest?

What to Look For
The leaves should be tightly packed, not loose or splayed. They also should squeak when rubbed together.

How to Prepare
If you plan to eat the whole artichoke (leaves and heart) start by using a serrated knife to cut off the tips and stem. Then use kitchen shears to snip off any sharp points on the leaves. Once you’ve boiled or braised it, be sure to scoop out the inedible “choke,” a thistle-like substance, using a spoon.

Ginger Root

Good God. Look at that thing. So gnarled. So rooty. How could something so delicious look so filthy? And yet, there it is. Still, we urge you to look past this plant’s dusty veneer and consider its benefits. Long used to calm nausea and indigestion plus, it tastes and smells divine. 

What to Look For
Pick up the hand — yes, that’s what it’s called and we think it’s creepy, too — and examine its texture. Choose a section with smooth, taut skin, which should be thin enough to nick with your fingernail. You should also be able to detect its spicy scent.

How to Prepare
Break off as much of the hand (shudder) as you need. Pro tip: If it doesn’t snap easily, it’s probably not fresh. Use a knife to pare off any dry ends and nubs, and then hack away at the larger swaths of skin with a vegetable peeler. If any stubborn bits remain, scrape ‘em off with a spoon. You’re left with lovely flesh for grating, pickling or candying.

Coconut

You may take one look at that hairy stack in the produce section and feel a strong urge to abort mission. Resist! Nutrient-rich coconuts aren’t hard to master, and buying them whole is more cost-effective. 

What to Look For
First, check for heft; a good coconut should feel heavy for its size. Next, give that bad boy a good shake. Does it sound like at least a cup of water is sloshing around in there? Great. Now examine the cluster of indentations called “eyes” for cracks, mold or wetness.

How to Prepare
Guys, you get to use a hammer for this! And a screwdriver, which you’ll use to poke a hole in the coconut’s softest eye. Once you’ve pierced the eye, drain the liquid inside by either slurping it up with a straw or pouring it into a glass. Gently hammer a spot toward the center of the fruit until a fracture forms along the circumference. Pull the halves apart and pry the flesh from the shell with a butter knife.

Then, imagine yourself on a desert island and enjoy the sweet bounty.

Black Bean & Greens Burger Recipe

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Looking for a fun way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Try our signature vegetarian burger! With a lot fewer calories that a regular beef burger, it's actually brimming with the health-promoting power of our special ingredient, Greens Blend

As listed, makes approximately three large or four medium-size burgers. Or, divvy it up into six mini patties and serve as sliders! If you're making it for friends and family, you're going to need to double it, because these burgers are the bomb.

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp. yellow onion, minced
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ scoop Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
  • 1-2 Tbsp. avocado oil

Directions

Drain most of the liquid from the black beans, but do not rinse the beans. Pour beans into a medium-size bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Not every single bean needs to be mashed, just the majority. Add flour, onion, white pepper, salt, chili powder, egg and Greens Blend. Mix well with your hands until all ingredients are fully combined. Form into 3-4 burgers, remembering that black bean burgers do not shrink in size like regular burgers. So the size you start with will be the finished size.

Pre-heat a large skillet over medium-high and add 1-2 tablespoons of avocado or coconut oil. Place burgers into the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until slightly browned.

Serve your delicious black bean burgers on a bun (or slider roll if you've made mini burgers). Or, for an even healthier alternative, avoid the bread altogether and wrap your veggie burgers in a crispy butterhead lettuce leaves (either Bibb or Boston).

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All that's left to do is add your favorite burger toppings and tuck in!