Everyone loves sandwiches and burgers. There is just something about putting food between slices of bread, inside a bun or rolled up in a wrap that makes it fun to eat. Maybe because it makes our food feel familiar, casual, and accessible, not to mention, portable. But we shouldn’t just eat any veggie burger or sandwich fillings. Many are highly processed and have ingredients we just don’t want or need including high amounts of sodium, oil, and preservatives. It’s always the best bet to make your own veggie burgers and sandwiches so you can choose which ingredients you want and how much of them go into your food and your body. While I love tofu, sometimes I also want to keep my meals soy-free. Here are some amazing sandwich and burger fillings that are free of both soy and processed ingredients but totally delicious.

1. Beans and Legumes

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Beans and legumes are at the top of the list of healthy foods. They are filling, economical, easy to store and easy to make. Their texture is tender and chewy and they hold together well enough to make burgers that won’t fall apart. Their flavors can range from the mild blank canvas of pinto beans to the creaminess of cannellini beans to the crunchiness of chickpeas to the “meatiness” of lentils.

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Some awesome veggie burgers to try include these Chickpea Burgers, Red Lentil Burgers with Kale Pesto, Black and White Bean BurgersHearty Lentil and Brown Rice BurgersVegan Chickpea Patties, Spicy Bean and Coconut BurgersKidney Bean Walnut Burgers, Hoisin Black Bean Burgers, Hoppin’ John Sliders with Lemon AioliMoroccan Spiced Lentil Butternut Squash Burgers, Black-Eyed Pea Burgers with Mississippi Comeback Sauce and Mexican Flavored Bean Burgers.

Beans and legumes work in sandwiches as well. Lentils are the perfect choice for these Meatless Meatball Subs, BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich with Sweet Miso Coleslaw and these Sloppy Josephs. Chickpeas work magic in these Hummus Collard Wraps, Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sandwich and The Cracked Sandwich with Hummus, Avocado and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. You’ll love these Healthy and Delicious Black Bean Wraps.

2. Eggplant

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Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It has a rich taste and it’s very versatile. It can be sliced, cubed, bakes, sauteed and of course, made into burgers and sandwiches. Eggplant burgers have a really decadent flavor, smooth and creamy. These savory Eggplant Burgers are baked and made extra creamy with cannellini beans. This Portobello Eggplant Burger is topped with cauliflower cashew cheese while this Moussaka Burger has a béchamel cheese sauce. One of my most popular recipes is my Eggplant Crunchburger. It’s filled with sauteed eggplant and vegan cheese and topped with a horseradish-mustard mayo and potato chips for extra crunch.

Eggplant also makes incredible sandwiches. Try this Roasted Eggplant Sandwich with Caramelized Onions, make a sub with Eggplant Parmigiana or these Vegan Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Meatballs, and these scrumptious Mediterranean Paninis.

3. Mushrooms

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When you want a savory, meaty taste that will satisfy your cravings for umami, mushrooms are what you need. Mushrooms have an earthy, rich flavor that is healthy and satisfying. Mushrooms can replace meat in almost any recipe especially burgers and sandwiches. Portobello mushrooms are even the perfect burger shape for instant Portobello Patties. You can grill the caps whole as in these Portobello Mushroom Burgers or saute a bunch of minced mushrooms to make this Mushroom Barley Griller. Try topping a Portobello with vegan garlic pesto to make this Pesto Mushroom Burger. If you put some Portobello mushrooms in front of me, the first thing I’m going to do is make a Portobello Philly Cheesesteak, my absolutely favorite mushroom sandwich.

4. Potatoes

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Potatoes might make you think of the fries that go with your burger or sandwich but they can also make the burger or sandwich filling. Mashed white potatoes can be mixed with cauliflower as in this Spicy Cauliflower Potato Burger or with black beans like these Potato and Black Bean Burgers. If you prefer beautiful orange sweet potatoes, try a White Bean and Sweet Potato Burger, a Maple Sweet Potato Pecan Burger, a Sweet Potato and Kale Patty, or this Raw Yam Burger with a side of Daikon Fries. Potatoes in the form of chips can be the coating for these Potato Chip-Encrusted Baked “Chicken” Salad Sandwiches that are made with seitan.

5. Zucchini, Pumpkin and Squash

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Summer and winter varieties of squash which include pumpkin offer us colorful and delicious veggie goodness all-year round. Maybe you think of squash as something to stuff with grains or a side dish for the holidays while zucchini makes wonderful guilt-free veggie noodles. But have you ever thought about putting them in a sandwich? Try these Pumpkin Enchiladas, Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Tacos, Butternut Squash Tacos and Raw Zucchini Wraps. Take a shot at making your own version of Peacefood Café’s Japanese Pumpkin Sandwich. For burgers, try these Moroccan Spiced Lentil Butternut Squash Burgers, these Amazing Pumpkin Burgers, and these colorful Zucchini and Corn Veggie Burgers.

6. Other Veggies

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With the amazing variety of veggies that exist, there are endless options for making burgers and sandwiches. I love making my Mustard Greens, Avocado and Sprouts Sandwich with Spicy Mayo. It’s based on a sandwich I had at a natural foods market. Lightly toast 8 slices of bread. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup soy-free vegan mayo and hot sauce to taste. Spread the mayo over all the slices of bread. Top half the slices of the bread with 4 cups mustard greens followed by slices of tomato and avocado. Add alfalfa sprouts and top with the remaining slices of bread.

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Other mouthwatering veggie sandwiches include this Pineapple BBQ Jack Sandwich, Sloppy Mexican-Spiced Roasted Vegan Sandwich, Vegan Humdinger – Hummus, Carrot, Cucumber, Avocado, and Alfalfa Sprouts Sandwich, Vegan Jackfruit Philly Cheesesteak, The Easy Fixx Veggie Sandwich, Raw Vegan Tomato Cucumber Sandwich on Onion Corn Bread, and Hearts of Palm Lobster Rolls. Earthy, sweet beets make these Roasted Beet Burgers and this Ultimate Vegan Burger. Broccoli makes incredible burgers like these Baked Broccoli Burgers. Try these Sweetcorn Sunrise Burgers, Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes and Daikon Patties for more veggie-filled burgers. Straight-up veggies make the best sandwiches, in my opinion..

7. Whole Grains, Nuts and Seeds

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You can add texture, flavor and lots of nutrients including protein, fiber and omega-3s when you use whole grains, nuts and seeds in your burgers and sandwiches. Try these Best Veggie Quinoa Burgers with Pumpkin Seed Onion Cream, Baked Quinoa Veggie Patties with Lemon-Tahini Sauce, Quinoa and White Bean Burgers, Quinoa Veggie Burgers, Cajun Burgers, and these Red Lentil and Amaranth Protein Patties with Spicy Avocado Mayo.

Sometimes it’s good to take a break from foods that contain soy and/or are processed. Making any of these burgers or sandwiches will remind you of just how much you love veggies, beans, legumes and other healthy, whole foods.

Lead image source: The Cracked Sandwich with Hummus, Avocado and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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