Hamburgerless Helper: The Laziest (But Still Healthy) Meal Ever
Sometimes those nostalgic flavors can get the best of us. They come into our minds and call our names until we have no choice but to give in to the craving. There are a few dishes like that from our pre-vegan days that we occasionally miss, such as Hamburger Helper. Remember that stuff? It was SO easy. Some marketing genius came up with the idea to include a packet of seasoning with a box of pasta and tout it as a lightning-fast cooking hack for those nights when you just didn’t feel like cooking. Brilliant! And decades later, we’re STILL talking about it!!
*RECIPE UPDATED TO USE COOKED LENTILS*
The problem with the Hamburger Helper of yesteryear is that it was not at all helpful to your health. Sure, it was fast but it was full of processed junk and called for fatty, artery-clogging hamburger meat as the central ingredient. No thanks!
Fortunately, we found that this kitchen classic actually CAN be made healthy by using whole plant-based ingredients and it can be made just as quickly as the packaged stuff. Let’s be honest, it’s really the plant-based flavors in Hamburger Helper that are the ones we connect to. The tomatoes, the herbs and spices; that’s where the magic really was, so making a vegan version really isn’t that big of a leap.
This is truly one of the easiest, laziest recipes we’ve ever made. There aren’t any fresh ingredients so there’s NO CHOPPING at all.
Those of us who follow a whole food plant-based way of eating know that if we want to stay compliant with our health-promoting diet, we have to prepare all our own food. Unfortunately, there are very few healthy options out there in restaurants and fast food joints. Everything pre-made comes loaded with salt, oil, or sugar and is just as unhealthy as can be. Therefore, it’s up to us to take our food and health into our own hands by preparing all of our own meals, which is honestly a good thing at the end of the day.
So the good thing about this way of eating is that we prepare all of our own meals and the bad thing about this way of eating is that we prepare all of our own meals. What are we to do during those times that we just don’t want to even think about cooking, let alone actually do it?
This is one of those recipes to keep on hand for those times, my friends, so print it out and put it on your fridge with a magnet because you’ll probably want to make it at least once a week.
If you watched the video, you probably noticed that we cooked the lentils from dry. After the filming of this video we have found that cooking the lentils from dry takes much too long because of acid in the tomatoes. Instead we now recommend to use cooked lentils, you can even use the canned lentils!
All you need to do is throw some plant milk, spices (oregano being among the most important for achieving that quintessential flavor), cooked lentils, WYW Nooch, some tomato paste, and a can of diced tomatoes into a saucepan and put it on the stove on high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and let it go for 20-30 minutes (or until the lentils are cooked through). While that’s simmering, cook your pasta like normal. Drain it and stir in the lentil mixture. DONE. See how easy that was?
Feel free to dig into it just like that. I won’t even tell anyone if you eat it right out of the pot with a fork! But if you feel up to going a step further, toast a piece of bread (we like Ezekiel) and grind it into breadcrumbs in a blender or mini mixer (such as a Magic Bullet). Add a little water to the pasta to loosen it up, pour it into a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs, and bake at 400º for about 15 minutes (or until crumbs are browned). The baking really takes it up a notch but it’s not an essential step.
If you feel up to steaming some fresh veggies to add to the dish, by all means, go right ahead. That’s the great thing about this recipe; you can be just as lazy or involved as you want to be with it. Feel free to add your favorite herbs and spices. If you want to chop an onion into it, go for it! Don’t want pasta? Just cook up some rice or potato and serve it on that instead. Make it your own. Or don’t. Because we made it for you!
Move over Betty Crocker! We did it just as easy but WAY more healthy. We hope you enjoy this fast and healthy comfort food recipe. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and let us know what you think. Enjoy!
Til Next Time...
A healthy vegan spin on the most iconic skillet meal of the 1970s.
1 cup soy milk
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1⁄2 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 cups cooked brown lentils
1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1⁄2 cup nutritional yeast
8 oz. pasta of your choice
Add all the ingredients to a medium sized pot, except for the pasta. Make sure to use cooked lentils, instead of dry like we did in the video. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
In a separate pot, cook your pasta according to package directions, no salt, no oil!
Once it’s done, mix both together and enjoy.
For added oomph, pour into a pan and bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes. Sometimes we top with breadcrumbs before baking.