Ming Tsai's Trick To Make Your Burgers More Plant-Based - Exclusive

Plant-based eating is arguably one of today's biggest diet trends. A growing number of chefs, nutrition experts, and activists are adopting it as a lifestyle, and extolling the numerous benefits of cutting out meat, both from a health and environmental standpoint. With that in mind, there's little reason not to at least try and up your plant intake.

Of course, making the switch to a totally plant-based diet may not be a realistic choice for some families and individuals. But there are plenty of ways to include more veggies, nuts, herbs, and grains into your meals, often taking the place of at least some of the meat and animal products on your plate. And doing this is even easier when you've got some inspiration to guide you. Enter Ming Tsai. 

The 2005 Iron Chef winner and restaurateur is a huge proponent of plant-based cooking, and even created his own line of vegan snacks, MingsBings. Speaking with Tasting Table, chef Tsai shared one of his favorite ways to incorporate more veggies into meals when cooking at home. Tsai says a great place to start, especially for those who aren't ready to give up the meaty flavors they like, is to add vegetables to homemade burger patties. Replacing some of the ground meat you use to form the burgers with finely diced or grated vegetables will make your burgers a lot healthier while still maintaining the taste you — and your kids — know and love.

Less meat means more nutrition in your burgers, says Ming Tsai

While it's usually a futile effort to try and trick yourself by sneaking veggies into meals, there's something to be said for discreetly blending them in so you and your family can reap the benefits while still enjoying comfort food favorites. "You can't convert some people, [like] kids; they want a burger," admits Tsai. But he suggests making a better burger by using a "two-to-one ratio, burger meat to veg."

While there are plenty of vegetables that you could transform into a burger patty – from pulsed broccoli to grated carrots or zucchini, corn kernels, finely diced bell peppers, and more, Tsai says "cauliflower rice is the secret." He loves this powerhouse veggie because it's packed full of "good vitamins, but it has no flavor, so you can bury cauliflower rice." Tsai loves to add it to his burger meat along with a mix of sweet and savory caramelized onions and tangy raw onions. "It's a better burger for you," he says, and "it's still just as delicious."

Of course, if you're ready to take it a step further and try fully plant-based veggie burgers, or try out a meat alternative from the grocery store. "Now that there are delicious plant-based proteins, you can easily cook how you normally cook [and] substitute with plant-based — even stuff as simple as a hamburger," says Tsai.