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Wow, the Fourth of July really snuck up on me this year!  I don’t even know where the month of June went…it moved so quickly.

I love summer and the arrival of Independence Day always signals to me that it is almost halfway over.  It is a great day to celebrate, relax and enjoy good eats and lots of fun with good peeps…our family and friends.

There is nothing like a great decadent burger, barbecued ribs, fresh corn, coleslaw, broccoli salad, baked beans and all the other summer treats and goodies!  This year I’m fixing barbecued chicken and, instead of beef or turkey burgers, I am making my go-to black bean burger.  I used to purchase the frozen veggie burger products sold by two popular big name companies. Although I felt they were healthy, I began looking at their ingredient list and about two years ago I set out to make my own veggie burgers as a healthier and more flavorful alternative.

This recipe for Spicy Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers with Avocado Cilantro Crema over at The Ambitious Kitchen is soooo gooood and soooo flavorful!  It has become a staple in my cooking rotation.

I have experimented with a lot of homemade veggie burgers and find I don’t miss the former frozen products I used to purchase.  I think I still have a box or two in my freezer which I can use in a pinch but making them homemade I find they are much more flavorful, hearty and devoid of stuff I can’t pronounce (much less know what it is).

All you really need is a few simple components to make a great veggie burger: a grain (i.e., brown rice, quinoa, breadcrumbs), some veggies (e.g., carrots, sun-dried tomato, mushrooms, any color bell pepper, corn, zucchini, sweet potato, spinach, jalapeno, etc.), flavor from good seasonings, and if you want to add beans use any kind (e.g., black beans, chickpeas, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, etc.).  Mix ingredients, shape into patties, then pan fry, broil/grill or bake and top with your favorite burger ingredients.

If you’re looking for a burger alternative for the Fourth of July to help round out your menu, consider making a veggie burger (e.g., Portobello, mushroom, chickpea patties/Falafel, lentil burgers, etc.) or check out my favorite Spicy Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger here:

http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2013/08/spicy-sweet-potato-black-bean-burgers-with-avocado-cilantro-crema-sprouts/

Now, to decide if I want to make a peach cobbler or a batch of chocolate chip cookies for dessert?

Whether you are grilling, going to a barbecue, hosting a picnic or hanging out at a family reunion remember the reason for the Fourth.

Enjoy the fireworks and have a safe and Happy Fourth!

4th of July 2014

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