Ed­die Keane’s Nut Burg­ers

Valerie O’con­nor has spent the last six months on a whole-food, plant-based diet but finds that eat­ing in restau­rants now has be­come re­ally bor­ing — though tasty op­tions are straight­for­ward with a bit of imag­i­na­tion

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - | Interiors -

AS A teenage veg­e­tar­ian who just did it to an­noy my par­ents, I ate my way through a lot of bean burg­ers made from a packet.

You mixed the pow­dered stuff up with an egg and wa­ter and made them into burger shapes. They were de­li­cious and saved me, even though I was eat­ing lots of salmon and tuna be­cause, as we all know, fish is a veg­etable.

It’s now six months since I de­cided to be­come a so­cial pariah and take the plant­based path. I did not choose this path, it was strongly rec­om­mended to me by a natur­opath I had gone to see to try and re­duce my very high dose of thy­roid med­i­ca­tion — which was be­ing upped ev­ery time I went to see the doc­tor.

Thy­roid prob­lems are rife in this coun­try and the cause is un­known; some say lack of io­dine, some say it’s the flu­o­ride and all say you have go on med­i­ca­tion for the rest of your life. I was ad­vised to go ve­gan, mainly­be­cause of what’s in the in­dus­trial meat chain — watch the doc­u­men­tary What the Health on Net­flix for the gorey de­tails. I won’t go into that here, as it would even turn you off your chi­aseed pud­ding.

Meat is easy, throw it on the pan and cook it, turn it over and cook it some more and then eat it. Throw on a bit of broc­coli and you’re pa­leo. I was al­most pa­leo be­fore this and the con­trast couldn’t be more great, I be­lieved I was do­ing the best for my­self and my fam­ily by eat­ing meat at ev­ery meal and of­ten more than once a day.

Just over six months on a whole-food, plant-based diet, I feel bet­ter than be­fore. Chronic si­nusi­tis that had me at the doc­tor reg­u­larly beg­ging for pre­scrip­tions and hors­ing into an­ti­his­tamines is not a thing that I miss. Also, not hav­ing pain in my face any­more is a free­dom I can’t de­scribe. My skin is bet­ter (peo­ple tell me so), and I get no muscle pains when I work hard at the gym.

The trainer be­lieves this is noth­ing to do with be­ing meat-free — but tell that to the many ath­letes who per­form bet­ter with­out an­i­mals in their veins. I am now fully off my med­i­ca­tion but please take note — this was done un­der the su­per­vi­sion of a skilled natur­opath who works through food, herbs and home­opa­thy, it’s not just the diet.

Also, I asked for the ap­prova­land­con­sentofmygp ev­ery time I made an in­cre­men­tal re­duc­tion and got a full set of blood tests done. Giv­ing up med­i­ca­tion willynilly is never a good idea — so seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice and guid­ance.

Mean­while, I love to go out and cel­e­brate land­mark happy oc­ca­sions but, as I am now ve­gan and chefs wel­come ve­g­ans with the en­thu­si­asm of hear­ing you have a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease, eat­ing in restau­rants is just re­ally bor­ing now.

On a re­cent trip to eat out to mark a big birth­day for my son, we two ve­g­ans (my el­dest son is also on the plants) were of­fered a salad, a risotto and a ve­gan meringue. So that’s a lot of ex­pen­sive, unimag­i­na­tive baby-food with no tex­ture and lot of sugar.

Chefs are meant to be cre­ative peo­ple, they go on about sea­sonal and lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, but it’s all hot air. What can be more sea­sonal and lo­cal than the abun­dance of great veg­eta­bles we have at this time of year, the amaz­ing mush­rooms that don’t need to be ru­ined in a risotto? To the av­er­age fish and chips and chow­der cook, cook­ing with­out an­i­mals, is like sex with­out or­gasm; why would you bother?

Last week I was told that the ve­gan break­fast op­tions were por­ridge (with­out milk?...) or the French toast (made with eggs!). Sigh. My best ve­gan meal in a non­veg­e­tar­ian restau­rant this year was in the Old Bake­house in Mill­town Mal­bay, Co Clare. It’s long been one of my favourites and chef Ed­die Keane is a gen­er­ous cook who just loves to feed peo­ple well.

My meal at the time was two nut burg­ers served with a tower of steamed bas­mati rice, some de­li­cious rata­touille and leeks on the side. It was by far the nicest plates of food I’ve had — loaded with flavour and tex­tures and a won­der­ful throw­back to good old-fash­ioned 90’s cook­ing. Turns out Ed­die’s daugh­ter is ve­gan so he gets it, peo­ple want to eat good food.

Many peo­ple now are re­al­is­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween diet and health and might choose to eat no meat for th­ese rea­sons to sup­port them through can­cer ther- apy or to help with arthri­tis, di­a­betes or mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. This is a choice made for health and not to just to be “an­noy­ing” or “car­ing about an­i­mals”.

There are many sac­ri­fices a per­son has to make when they choose a re­stric­tive diet and it would be re­ally great if menus treated non­meat eaters like other pay­ing din­ers by giv­ing them choice and re­spect. Should some­one have to show a card with a dis­abil­ity or ill­ness on it?

Mean­while (rant over!) here is Ed­die’s recipe for a ba­sic nut burger. It’s an­noy­ingly sim­ple, al­most as sim­ple as ve­g­ans are con­ceived to be, and it makes a great stash of food.

The recipe will give you about 16-18 burger pat­ties and you can freeze them in lay­ers sep­a­rated by bak­ing parch­ment, so you can just whip them out and fry them up as you want them. The key to sav­ing your san­ity in ve­gan coun­try is food prep and batch cook­ing. More on that later. I buy the bags of nuts in Lidl which are great value. They are not or­ganic but good luck try­ing to find or­ganic nuts in any quan­ti­ties.

Nuts should al­ways be soaked for at least an hour in non-tap wa­ter (chlo­rine is a dis­in­fec­tant) and then rinsed, drained and spread out on a bak­ing tray and roasted in the oven at 180C for about 40 min­utes.

Do this with any nuts or seeds you plan on snack­ing on, it makes them more di­gestible and they taste much bet­ter.

This is a base recipe, you can add spices and other flavour­ings if you wish. Makes 16-18 pat­ties

In­gre­di­ents

500-600g nuts mixed, (I use a bag of cashews, one of wal­nuts and one of pecans) 2-3 large cooked pota­toes, steamed is best

Method:

■ Once you have roasted your nuts you want to smash them up, but not pul­ver­ize. Do this by putting them all into a strong plas­tic bag, or as my son did, into a folded tea towel and smash them ran­domly with a heavy rolling pin or the bot­tom of a large cook­ing pot. ■ Mash the spuds, sea­son- ing with a lit­tle sea salt and pep­per.

■ Mix the mash in with the nuts un­til it’s all well com­bined and then shape the mix­ture into pat­ties.

Serve th­ese any way you like, with sweet po­tato or reg­u­lar fries, roasted veg­gies and salad.

I had my burger be­tween two slices of sour­dough with pick­led cu­cum­bers, greens and ketchup just like any other per­son.

Ve­g­ans have teeth too!

Pics: Val Ocon­nor

The recipe for chef, Ed­die Keane’s nut burg­ers is de­fi­antly sim­ple, and when made in large quan­ti­ties can be frozen and then fried up as and when re­quired. Ed­die is based at the Old Bake­house, Mill­town Mal­bey, Co Clare and pro­duces good ve­gan choices.

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