By guest author Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
The English proverb, “you can’t have your cake and eat, too” flies in the face of options when seeking alternatives to 100% animal protein burgers. With the continued explosion of plant-based burgers appearing on grocery shelves and restaurant menus to meet the rising consumer demand, the simplicity of existing choices like lean ground beef blended with mushrooms can be overlooked. According to The Hartman Group¹, the concept of “half meat, half plant” burgers resonate with consumers as many have an interest in reducing their intake of animal protein intake but still want the taste without the guilt.
A study, published in the Journal of Food Science², validated the “blend benefit” when finely chopped mushrooms mixed with ground meat enhanced the flavor and nutrition profile of the traditional burger.² The study showed that a traditional ground meat recipe prepared with 50% mushrooms and 50% meat (or even 80% mushrooms and 20% meat) provides the desired flavor profile due to the umami taste of the mushroom.
Beyond the Flavor
The “blend benefit” not only exceeds the taste expectations but excels equally on the nutrition side. The popular array of processed plant-based burgers portrays a “health halo” image but their nutrition profiles do not deliver. Blended burgers reflect a lesser calorie, fat and sodium content than most plant-based alternatives while delivering the benefit of additional fiber and nutrients, like Vitamin D, potassium, B-vitamins and antioxidants packed into high-quality protein.³ Adding mushrooms into the beef with a simple-chop, blend, and prepare-makes it easy to add an extra serving of vegetables to the plate – another advantage over ready to eat plant-based burgers.⁴
The blended burger provides us with an “and” rather than an “either/or” choice. Blended burgers are truly the “best of both worlds” as consumers see these as the solution to enjoy the flavor and nutritional value of meat while aligning to their health and ethical aspirations.¹ As seen by the popularity of their acceptance, blended burgers are the “middle ground” solution in the plant vs animal conversation. They appeal to those of us trying to eat a little less meat and add a few more vegetables in our lifestyle eating habits.
¹The Hartman Group, Blended Burgers: Gateway to the Mainstream for Plant-Based Protein Alternatives? October 7, 2019. https://www.hartman-group.com/blogs/888099202/blended-burgers-gateway-to-the-mainstream-for-plant-based-protein/ Accessed March 15, 2021
²Myrdal Miller, A., Mills, K., Wong, T., Drescher, G., Lee, S.M., Sirimuangmoon, C., Schaefer, S., Langstaff, S., Minor, B. and Guinard, J.-X. (2014), Flavor-Enhancing Properties of Mushrooms in Meat-Based Dishes in Which Sodium Has Been Reduced and Meat Has Been Partially Substituted with Mushrooms. Journal of Food Science, 79: S1795–S1804. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12549
³Smith Edge, M. Mushrooms: A Food with a Purpose. Mushroom News: Nutrition. March 2021
⁴The Mushroom Council. The Blend. https://blenditarian.com/theblend.php#blendwhy. Accessed March 18, 2021,