How to Make Nicely-Shaped Veggie Burgers

When people see my veggie burgers inevitably they mention how nicely shaped the burgers are and they want to know how to make similarly shaped burgers. Somewhere along the line, I forget where,  I learned the following method which I’m showing pictorially. I know, it would be nice if Tom made a video but time is running short here and editing Tom’s videos is very time consuming. So this is what you get tonight…

VEGGIE BURGERS: Baked veggie burgers, ready to eat or freeze!
VEGGIE BURGERS: Baked veggie burgers, ready to eat or freeze!

My tips to make a nicely shaped veggie burger:  After mixing the ingredients, roughly divide the mix into similar sizes depending on the number of burgers you’re making. For each burger, roll the mix around and around in the palms of your hands, shape doesn’t have to be perfect. 

The next steps are shown and explained in these images and captions:

MAKING BUCKWHEAT GROATS and BLACK BEAN BURGER #1: With the palm of your hands, roll the burger mix into a round shape. Then flatten a bit in the palms of your hands. Next and very important, use your thumbs to flatten out the outside edges of the burger by moving the burger around in a circular motions, around and around, until the edges are smooth.
MAKING BUCKWHEAT GROATS and BLACK BEAN BURGER #2: Set the edge of the burger on the Silpat or parchment paper.
MAKING BUCKWHEAT GROATS and BLACK BEAN BURGER #3: For this step, roll the edge of the burger back and forth on the Silpat until the edge is flat and smooth.
MAKING BUCKWHEAT GROATS and BLACK BEAN BURGER #4: This step is the last step – flattening. With your finger tips, mash the burger to make it the thickness that you like. 

That’s IT, easy!

You can use this method on any of our burger recipes. CoachBJ’s delicious whole food, plant-based burgers are created to be firm, keep their shape after baking and they don’t fall apart! Today we made Buckwheat Groats and Black Bean Burgers from my EASY MEALS eCookbook.


ENJOY Cooking Whole Food, Plant-Based EASY MEALS with Coach BJ



NEW! Delicious EASY MEALS made from Whole Food, Plant-Based ingredients. Quick, easy-to-make recipes are offered by food coach – COACH BJ. My mission is to help you to make meals to fit into your tight schedule.  I hope to make your journey easier as you join my team by cooking these delicious nutrient packed recipes.

The 31 EASY MEAL recipes are beautifully presented with a total of 30 attractively photographed images. Recipes include African Style Chick Peas with Freekeh, Angel Hair Pasta and Spinach with Pesto, Baked Beans with Barley and Cabbage, Black Bean Soup, Chili, Marinara Sauce, Pasta Primavera, Polenta with Sauce and Veggies, Roasted Cauliflower and Pasta, Sloppy Joe Lentils  and more – all with a healthy twist. Let’s get back to basics and stay healthy by cooking vegan dishes without adding oil, see how to use less processed foods, enjoy low salt options and cut down on added sugar. Enjoy delicious Plant-Based Recipes to put you at the top of your game! Coach BJ’s recipes are made with the home cook in mind. Nutritional facts are listed. By joining Coach BJ’s team, we can help you reach your healthy eating goals! Create meals made with healthy whole food, plant-based ingredients! Quick online purchase and download, check it out here…  ENJOY COOKING WHOLE FOOD, PLANT-BASED EASY MEALS with COACH BJ.  Easily purchase this eCookbook for $2.99, you can download and have recipes handy to view or print from your digital devices.

In the following gallery, view some of my delicious easy meals featured in ENJOY COOKING WHOLE FOOD, PLANT-BASED EASY MEALS with COACH BJ !

O’Brien Potatoes with Veggies and Chick Peas – Easy Meal, Recipe and Video


Bringing you Enjoy Cooking Whole Food, Plant-Based EASY MEALS by CoachBJ. Totally easy, you won’t believe how quick and tasty plant-based eating can be!

Enjoy Cooking Whole Food, Plant-Based EASY MEALS with Coach BJ
Enjoy Cooking Whole Food, Plant-Based EASY MEALS with Coach BJ (click on above photo to purchase my downloadable eCookbook from

You know how much we love fresh bi-colored corn and tomatoes during the summer but use frozen or canned to make it super quickly. Give it a try, use this recipe as a template, you can use any of your favorite veggies and spices to shape your own dish. Guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds.

Bi-Colored Corn in Husk
Bi-Colored Corn in Husk
Garden Fresh Tomatoes
Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Look for my book, the third in the series, published on December 19, 2017. My Easy Meal recipe, O’Brien Potatoes with Veggies and Chick Peas, featured in the  below video, is a recipe included in my book. Let’s get started, take a look!

O’BRIEN POTATOES WITH VEGGIES AND CHICK PEAS:  In a hurry, here’s one for you. No chop, toss in a large skillet. Quick tasty meal in 25 minutes!

Serves: 4 || Prep Time: 15 minutes || Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 (28-ounce) bag frozen O’Brien type potatoes with bell peppers and onions
2 cups frozen or fresh corn
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo beans), no added salt, include brine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can or fresh diced tomatoes, no added salt
2 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder, to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
add water, if needed
leafy greens, your choice
Garnish:  Fresh parsley and basil

Place all ingredients, without thawing, into a large skillet. Mix. Heat until thawed, stir occasionally; simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot over greens. Garnish with fresh parsley and basil.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 340  Calories from Fat 16, Total Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 335mg, Total Carbohydrate 67g, Fiber 12g, Sugars 9g, Protein 13g

Enjoy this EASY MEAL recipe.
For similar recipes, buy the downloadable eCookbook with 31 recipes and 30 beautiful photographs.

Click here to see Easy Meal gallery and details about this book. 

Let’s Make Cranberry Sauce


‘Tis the season for wonderful, healthy Cranberries – fresh from Maine. The raw berries are bitter-tasting but full of powerful antioxidants. I will add some unprocessed sugar and orange flavoring to make a tasty syrup to use in healthy plant-based baking. The cranberries will gel from their natural pectin, causing the sauce to thicken. The color and texture of the cranberry syrup is stunning, the translucent berries are especially captivating for a photographer. 

CITRUS: Oranges, lemons and cranberries.

SIMPLE CRANBERRY SAUCE RECIPE (to be used in desserts):
Quantity:  After cooking, makes about 1 cup sauce.
2 cups raw cranberries, wash and sort
1/3 cup sugar-in-the-raw type sweetener (or to taste)
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed or 100% juice)
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)

So easy to make Cranberry Sauce:  Add sugar, orange juice and Grand Marnier to a small skillet. Stir and heat until sugar dissolves. Add raw cranberries, stir gently, bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Some of the berries will pop. Don’t over stir or over cook, leave some berries whole.


CRANBERRY SYRUP: This syrup is made from fresh cranberries and can be used in cakes or other baked goods.

This time I used the Cranberry Syrup to enhance my Orange Cake available in my eCookbook, see details available  on where to purchase and download my book Enjoy Cooking Whole Food, Plant-Based Desserts with CoachBJ 

ORANGE – CRANBERRY FLAVORED CAKE:  Fresh cranberries add a seasonal touch to this orange flavored moist cake.
ORANGE – CRANBERRY CAKE:  My Orange Cake with fresh cranberry sauce turns into a delightful holiday dessert.

I used Cranberry Syrup in two other desserts, I’ll be posting more PIX soon. More ideas coming.

Blueberry Pancakes – A Saturday Morning Breakfast


Tom makes beautiful plant-based blueberry pancakes once in awhile on a Saturday morning. I am truly thankful for his cooking skills. These pancakes are made from whole foods – light and sooo tasty with an added benefit of being nutritious. Top with blueberries or your favorite fruit and nuts. Add a small amount of maple syrup, however not quite as much as  pictured in my iconic pancake image…haha!

PANCAKES ON THE GRIDDLE: Pour a spoonful of batter on the hot griddle.

Pancakes on the griddle
PANCAKES ON THE GRIDDLE: Cook pancakes until bubbly on top, then turn over.


MAPLE SYRUP: Beautiful highlights from maple syrup.


Are you getting hungry yet! Oh one more thing, Tom makes steamed yellow potatoes and onions to go along with the pancakes.

BREAKFAST POTATOES: Yellow potatoes and onions sauteed and steamed.

What a Saturday morning treat!

These pancakes will get your day off to a good start!

Serves 4
1/2 cup (less 3 tablespoons) white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almond milk
1 whole banana preferably ripe, mash
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1/4 cup aqua faba (garbanzo beans brine)
2 tablespoons raisins
Optional: Add nuts and/or fruit to the batter or use as toppings 


In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork, then add all other ingredients. Mix these ingredients until thoroughly combined, do not over mix. Let the batter settle for about 10 minutes. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high until droplets of water bounce on the skillet surface. Add batter to hot skillet and when bubbles appear on top of the batter, flip the pancake over to complete cooking. About 60 seconds per pancake.

Nutritional Facts: Per Serving, 189 Calories From Fat 19, Total Fat  4g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 166mg, Total Carbohydrate 37g, Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars 8g, Protein 4g   

Try making these easy pancakes, see if you love them as much as we do. HAVE A GOOD DAY!



A Few Knife Skills – Cutting and Chopping Veggies

Chopping and Cutting Vegetables with a Chef Knife

During our Healthy Eating Adventure (HEA) at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg PA we were fortunate to see knife skills presented by Nick Iula, Chef and Food Services Manager at SHIP. He told us that in culinary school, formal knife skills courses would take a whole semester to cover. Although Tom and I are not professionally trained in knife skills, we do have tons of practical experience cutting and chopping. Hence we’ve done our best to deliver a very short tutorial to start you on your way with basic knife skills. Hopefully this video will aid you in navigating around your kitchen with a chef knife – chopping and cutting vegetables. The video shows some of the basics. 

My favorite knife for cutting and chopping vegetables on a daily basis is a Ceramic Chef Knife (below). Since I have a bit of carpel tunnel, it’s a perfect weight and size for my hand, plus I do not feel any pain after chopping. To be honest, Tom does more cutting and chopping than I do! I like that the knife stays sharp, it has been my loyal plant-based cutting companion for years and “knock on a wooden cutting board” I have yet to cut myself with this knife. SAFETY FIRST!

CoachBJ's Chef's Knife
CoachBJ’s Chef’s Knife

On the other hand, Tom prefers a heavier stainless steel knife, but every once in awhile I find him using my knife. Make sure that your knife suits you and fits the cutting task. In this case it is so important to use the right tool. In today’s video Tom will be demonstrating chef knives only. He will use safety gloves to show you how easy it is use them for safety, especially if you’re a beginner. LET’s start CUTTING!

Happy chopping and cutting, get into the rhythm, it can be a meditative task!

Avocados – a few tips

Just Ripe Avocado

We love avocados…here are a few tips which, hopefully, help you select and preserve left overs.

How to tell if an avocado is ripe:

If you gently squeeze the avocado, the skin should give just a little. Another method is to remove the brown stem and check the color underneath:  If the color is yellow it is not yet ripe – if it is GREEN it is ripe and ready to eat – but if it is brown it is over ripe. 

How to preserve left over avocados:

I have tried numerous tips to keep avocados from turning brown after being cut and exposed to air. When air hits the avocado, it turns brown in a short time…not too appealing. So what to do to extend the life? Without much success I’ve tried leaving the pit in, wrapping in plastic, placing an onion with the avocado in a plastic bag and who knows how many other tips. UNTIL…yes one more try, using water to keep the air from the avocado worked!

(Case 1):  In this example, let’s assume I’m making a simple avocado spread. First I would cut the avocado in half lengthwise, discard the pit, scoop the fruit out of the skin with a spoon, place in a small bowl, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice over the avocado, then mash with a fork.

If I only use some of the spread I’ll want to reserve the rest…here’s what to do:

(1) Place the avocado spread in a container (one which can be tightly sealed)
(2) Level the spread
(3) Gently pour water over the spread; be sure to cover all of the spread with about 1/2 inch of water to seal it from air exposure
(4) Tightly close the container lid
(5) Place in refrigerator

Avocado covered with water
Avocado covered with water

The next day, open the container, pour off the water, stir the avocado spread and there you have it, fresh looking! I tried keeping the spread for two days and it was fine, however I didn’t want to push my luck. Below is the result…FRESH AVOCADO, no brown!

Fresh looking acocado
Fresh looking avocado

Now go eat that YUMMY avocado spread the second day!!

Yummy avocado spread!
Yummy avocado spread!


(Case 2):  In this example, we have cut the avocado in half lengthwise. We took out the pit, scooped out half of the avocado and slices it for a sandwich. Now what to do with the left over half of the avocado. 

Cover the left over half of the Avocado with water
Cover the left over half of the Avocado with water

(1) Just take the half, turn it upside down (skin side out) in a bowl.
(2) Cover with water
(3) Place in refrigerator (I’ve only tried it for 24 hours)
(4) When ready to use, drain water 
(5) Pat fruit of the avocado dry with a paper towel
(6) Scoop out and slice
After 24 hours preserving in the refrigerator, below is what you have. Better than throwing it away! Let me hear how this method works for you. 

Avocado after removing from water
Avocado after removing from water
Scoop out avocado
Scoop out avocado
Slice Avocado
Slice Avocado

The result…FRESH AVOCADO, no brown! 

Roasting Plum Tomatoes

Roasting Plum Tomatoes Plant-Based

Just call me a tomato snob! I really miss our home-grown heritage tomatoes during the colder months in Pennsylvania. Usually after October any store-bought slicer-type tomatoes are just so dull and not even worth purchasing. Of course you may choose to can tomatoes to savor their fresh taste. But I’ll talking about using tomatoes in sammys and on  salads. 

So here are two tips around this flavor challenge. If you have more tips, we’d love to hear from you!

(1) We have found that store-bought cherry tomatoes are still rather tasty during this season. We use in salads and in some soups.

Cherry Tomatoes at the Market
Cherry Tomatoes at the Market

(2) We have found roasting store-bought Italian Plum Tomatoes will get us through the winter. They are inexpensive and accessible but still rather flat tasting during the winter, that is, until roasted. After roasting they are taste busting gems! I roast plum tomatoes in my toaster oven about once a week; wrap left overs in the parchment paper which they were roasted on and store in the refrigerator so they are handy to grab.

Plum tomatoes
Plum tomatoes

TOMATOES (PLUM) – ROASTED:  Juicy caramelized tomatoes – use to enhance sauces, in salads, on sandwiches or just pop into your mouth for a tasty nutritious treat. It’s easy to make small batches in a toaster oven. They are particularly yummy in the colder months when store bought tomatoes are so tasteless.

Serves: 8 tomatoes || Prep Time: 10 minutes || Cook Time: 30 minutes
8 fresh Italian Plum Tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon salt substitute
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Preheat toaster oven 400°F. Cut fresh tomatoes in half lengthwise, cut out stem. Place halves in a medium sized bowl, pour tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes. Stir until all surfaces are coated. Sprinkle with dried basil, salt substitute and garlic powder; gently toss. Place halved tomatoes, cut side up, on parchment paper; roast for about 30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 26  Calories from Fat 0, Total Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 9mg, Total Carbohydrate 6g, Fiber 1g, Sugars 1g, Protein 1g

CoachBJ Roasting Plum Tomatoes
CoachBJ Roasting Plum Tomatoes