Healthy Eating: Try a Sun Burger on backyard barbecue

Sun Burger

I have been a yoga teacher since 1987. Yes, that is a long time. Thirty-one years, to be exact. I was taking yoga classes before it was trendy. In fact, when I was taking yoga it was still considered weird and not mainstream.

Now there are more yoga teachers than the market can bear. I earn less money teaching yoga than I did 20 years ago teaching in Vermont. People can take a three-day yoga teacher training/”certification” class and go hang out their shingle to teach yoga. Go figure. But I digress. On of the great benefits of becoming involved in a yoga community is that it opened up my eyes to the world of whole foods.

The first yoga teacher training course that I took was at a place in the Berkshires of Massachusetts called Kripalu Center. It is just down the street from Tanglewood,which is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I visited Kripalu for a long weekend with a friend of mine. I fell in love with the yoga and kept going back to do seva (volunteer) while I was teaching at a boarding school in New Hampshire. It was my happy place. A place where I learned more than just yoga. One of the things that I loved most about Kripalu is the food. It nourished me in a new way and opened my eyes to all the possibilities of healthy eating.

At the time, it was strictly vegetarian. Back in the ’80s they didn’t even serve coffee. Now when I go to visit, the food scene encompasses the whole gamut of “healthy eating” including animal protein, coffee, etc. But back then Kripalu was known for it’s vegetarian “crunchy granola” food. Their first cookbook is still one of my favorites. It’s right up there with The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Here is a great alternative for your backyard barbecue fare of hamburgers and hot dogs. This “burger” is easy to make and very satisfying. It is entirely plant-based and made with whole foods. It has a high fiber content and a low glycemic index. (But you don’t have to tell that to your kids!) The carrots and sunflower seeds add a healthy raw-food component too. They are high in minerals and trace minerals, which are excellent for building stronger bones. (You can tell that to your kids.) You can make these into “sun” balls as well and use them for your next pasta meal.

Lastly, and most important, they taste amazing. Enjoy the fruits of the season. Pick up some fresh carrots and parsley from the summer market and enjoy these tasty burgers.

Sun Burgers
Makes six to eight burgers (depending on size)

3 cups cooked brown rice
4 cups raw sunflower seeds
1 cup washed and chopped parsley
1 cup grated raw carrots
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon each of ground cumin and onion powder (optional)

In a food processor, grind the sunflower seeds until well crushed, but not paste. Add remaining ingredients, except rice, and blend until well combined. Add rice and pulse until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Using wet hands, shape the mixture into burger and balls. Burgers and sunballs can be baked in a 350 degree oven on an oiled baking sheet or heated in a skillet with a small amount of oil. Both freeze well; thaw before cooking. If you decide to grill them, please be sure to use a grill pan or foil on the BBQ as they can be fragile over an open flame. Serve with a tasty bun and the usual burger condiments.

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at


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