April 27, 2012

Gluten-Free Vegan Burgers, by Qrunch Foods

By Evan Sandsmark -  

What can you cook in a toaster? For any person who values quick and easy meals, the answer to this question is highly relevant – toasters aren’t exactly difficult to operate, and they’re also very efficient, cooking whatever is placed within them in mere minutes. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is generally “toast” and not much else. And so we were greatly pleased to learn that Qrunch Burgers, which are vegan burgers that are also gluten-free (because they are made with quinoa) and organic, can be prepared in a toaster. Since we’re always interested in a gluten-free meal that requires little effort (hence our penchant for reviewing gluten-free restaurants), we decided to pick up some Qrunch Burgers on a recent trip to Whole Foods Market in Boulder, one of scores of places where Qrunch Foods are available in Colorado.

At the moment, Qrunch Burgers is the only product made by Qrunch Foods, although they are coming out with Qrunch Tots soon (which is fairly bizarre because we just so happened to have eaten our Qrunch Burgers with tater tots). At the center of Qrunch Foods is quinoa; indeeed, the company’s catchphrase, or whatever you want to call it, is “Powered By Quinoa: A Superfood.” (The colon is supplied by us – the slogan is displayed in such a way as to imply the presence of a colon or a marking of similar grammatical effect.) Quinoa is of course near and dear to the hearts of many who are gluten intolerant because it tastes like a grain, but it is actually part of the beet family, making it gluten-free. It’s used in several gluten-free products we’ve come across, like Fiona’s Cereal Bars. It is a wonderful, deeply healthy food, and we’re glad that the gluten-free revolution has helped it rise to prominence…again – the Incas were all about quinoa (much like we are All About Worms and All About Cruises and More, to link to two sites that have nothing to do with the present article, but are operated by the same publishing company that produces Gluten Free in Boulder).

Because they only come in packs of two, Qrunch Burgers can be slightly hard to find at your local Colorado grocery store. However, a little searching in the frozen-food aisle will lead you to them soon enough. The burgers come in an orange box, a box that is quite helpful because of its thorough cooking instructions. The packaging lists several methods, including the one involving a toaster (“just a couple of cycles through your toaster and they’re ready to eat”), much lauded at the beginning of this article. Unfortunately, we don’t have a regular toaster, but we used the next best thing: a toaster oven. You can also cook them in a regular oven, a method that requires the same cooking instructions as the toaster oven (“bake at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes”). Skillets and grills can be used as well (“cook over medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes per side”), but Qrunch Burgers should not be microwaved, per the recommendations listed directly on the box (“but if you must, nuke on high for 1-2 minutes”). We followed the instructions to a T, baking the burgers for 18 minutes at 400 degrees, and they came out perfectly: crisp on the outside, moist and hot on the inside.

As we mentioned, Qrunch Burgers come in packs of two, which gave us the opportunity to try one burger with regular accompanying ingredients (a GF bun, vegetables, and condiments) and the other completely plain. When eaten without anything, the burgers do not have a particularly distinct flavor, but they are definitely good. They don’t taste like a hamburger – they are more reminiscent of a turkeyburger or a chicken patty, if anything. More than anything else, they taste a little like a fried potato, which is a judgement we feel particularly confident making because, again, we happened to have made tater tots as a side for our Qrunch Burgers. You can also tell that they are made with quinoa, but mostly because you can see the seeds, as quinoa by itself doesn’t have a very strong taste. By saying that the burgers don’t have a “particularly distinct taste,” we don’t mean to imply they are bland – this word has negative connotations, and our reaction to Qrunch Burgers is nothing but positive. Also, it is worth mentioning that something that is entirely allergen-free is necessarily limited in terms of ingredients. Qrunch Burgers are not only gluten-free, but also dairy-, soy-, corn-, egg-, wheat-, and nut-free. Even the most sensitive eater can probably enjoy a Qrunch Burger. If they are free of so many ingredients, what exactly is in a Qrunch Burger? Here’s an ingredient list: organic quinoa, organic millet, organic coconut oil, organic onion, organic carrots, organic broccoli, organic spinach, arrowroot starch, organic apple cider vinegar, psyllium seed powder, kosher salt, organic garlic, and non-gmo canola oil.

The Qrunch Burger by itself is good, but they do of course go best with other ingredients, and there really isn’t any reason to eat the burgers plain unless you are trying to write a review of them. With our other patty we made an absolutely delicious burger on a GF bun with onion, shredded lettuce, and a slice of tomato. This made our meal heavy on vegetables because Qrunch Burgers are made in part with organic onion, carrots, broccoli, and spinach (with the word “organic” serving as the proud adjective that modifies all the nouns in this list). To our burger we also added some ketchup (which tends to be gluten-free, but always check) and mustard (which, just like ketchup, is often gluten-free, but can contain gluten if it is made with something like wheat powder). Our meal was superb, and we would encourage anyone who claims you can’t make a good vegan burger to try Qrunch Burgers. At the very least, you’ll likely conclude after trying one that good meatless alternatives exist to hamburgers.

Speaking of trying them, here is a list of all the places you can get Qrunch Burgers in Boulder:

Alfalfa’s; 1651 Broadway Street
King Soopers; 3600 Table Mesa
King Soopers; 1650 30th Street
Lucky’s; 3960 Broadway Street
Whole Foods; 2905 Pearl Street
Whole Foods Ideal Market; 1275 Alpine Ave

They can also be found in many of the towns around Boulder (and the rest of Colorado, for that matter), as the list found at this link makes plain enough:

Places to find Qrunch Foods

Qrunch Foods regular website can be found here:

Places to find Qrunch Foods

If you try Qrunch Burgers, let us know if you like them as much as we do in a comment below!

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  1. Kate Secrest says:

    “Also, it is worth mentioning that something that is entirely allergen-free is necessarily limited in terms of ingredients. Qrunch Burgers are not only gluten-free, but also dairy-, soy-, corn-, egg-, wheat-, and nut-free. Even the most sensitive eater can probably enjoy a Qrunch Burger.”

    OK, so I am one of those unfortunates. What is IN the Qrunch burger? It doesn’t help to know what is NOT in the burger.

  2. Evan says:

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for your comment. We’ve updated the article with a list of ingredients. That is a great idea to include the full list of ingredients in anything we review, so we will do so any time it is possible in future articles. Thanks again for your thoughts!

    Evan
    Staff Writer
    Gluten Free in Boulder

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