When you live in the Midwest and don’t eat meat, people look at you like you’re crazy. My significant other calls my choice of solely vegetarian meals my “eating disorder.” So if you would’ve told me when I stopped eating meat in 1997 that I’d find yumtastic veggie burgers being produced right here in Omaha, I would not have believed you. When I saw that Blue Planet, an awesome restaurant here in Omaha, was introducing a line of frozen veggie burgers, I knew they would be good based on the awesome food I’d had at the restaurant. In Omaha, a restaurant with tons of vegetarian, gluten free and healthy options is extraordinarily rare. I can think of one other place, and I wouldn’t exactly call the food tasty. I was thrilled to meet with Blue Planet’s Director of Operations Dan Tweedy and learn more about the line. Tweedy, who has decades of experience in the restaurant industry, is also the head chef. The introduction of the veggie burger options is the culmination of a year of hard work. Previously, the restaurant had used existing frozen veggie burger products, but they just didn’t match up with Blue Planet’s goal to offer natural, healthy food, Tweedy said. Many options previously on the market are loaded with sodium, preservatives and fillers. Blue Planet also wanted to offer more options to those with eating restrictions. The new burgers are free of the top 20 allergens, including gluten, nuts and corn.
Blue Planet began with a black bean burger, as that was the most popular seller in the restaurant. Next they replaced the garden veggie burger option served in the restaurant. The third and final variety, Sweet Potato Chickpea, was inspired by an idea Tweedy’s wife saw on Pinterest. They purchased a manufacturing facility and started from the ground up, making sure all potential allergens were eliminated. They used an Omaha company to produce the packaging, and an Omaha designer to do the graphic design (and ironically she taught me publication design at Creighton.)
I had the opportunity to try all three varieties and YUM. I honestly don’t think I can pick a favorite. All three were fantastic. You could actually taste the individual flavors of the beans in each patty, the adobo in the black bean burger, etc. With most veggie burgers, they may taste good, but it’s so processed the flavors blend together. I expected them to be good, but I honestly didn’t expect them to taste as close to homemade as they did. If I had any negatives, it would just be to make them bigger so I can keep enjoying the yumminess! Tweedy also shared an amazing tip that NEVER occurred to me. Of course, grilling is best and using the microwave is an option, but two cycles through the toaster and you’ve got crispy, yummy goodness. Blue Planet Naturals veggie burgers are now available in the Hy-Vee at 51st and Center, but they plan to expand to more stores, and eventually ship the product. They run about the same price as others on the market, like Gardenburger and Morningstar Farms (approximately the $5-6 range.)