“Flow”…oh, and an ALL-New (Best) Veggie Burger Recipe….

Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly suggests certain activities engage us in a highly focused mental state which he calls “flow” (and which some people–myself included–call “being in the zone”). This flow state is characterized by….

  • Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  • Merging of action and awareness
  • A loss of reflective self-consciousness
  • A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  • A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
  • Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding also referred to as autotelic experience (i.e., contains its own meaning or purpose).

The flow experience further includes…

  • Immediate feedback
  • Feeling that you have the potential to succeed
  • Feeling so engrossed in the experience, that other needs become negligible

I kind of think you could add a further criterion…that the flow experience gives you energy, rather than sucking your energy. In other words, it seems to work in the same way meditation works.

I liken it, in a sense, to Myers-Briggs theories on extroverts  and introverts: if you gain energy from social situations, you are likely an extrovert; if you need to lie in a darkened room with your eyes closed after a social engagement, you are an introvert.

Thus, if you gain energy from an activity, it’s likely a “flow” experience; if you need to go have a nap, it’s not.

If you’ve never heard of him, here’s Csikszentmihaly’s TED talk, wherein he suggests that achieving flow is the secret to happiness. Listen if you have a moment because it’s a very interesting concept from the positive psychology movement that started in the 1990s (a movement my daughter tells me is rather uncool in the psychology community, but one I subscribe to nonetheless!):

As I may have mentioned before, I didn’t start cooking for fun until I was well into middle age. I’m not sure why I avoided something that now gives me such great pleasure, but it was likely a terrible fear of all things domestic.

However, over the past eight years, cooking has become one of my flow activities. Writing is another. Thus, blogging about cooking is kind of a double-whammy of flow for me. Throw gardening in there, and I’ll be lost in the zone for hours and hours.

So…every summer when we first arrive at the cabin, I spend days in the kitchen just puttering about and trying different recipes and experiments. It gets me into the zone and seems to be a way of emptying my mind from the always frenetic last few weeks of the spring semester. This year, I’m nowhere near as exhausted as usual because I avoided all committee work and any personal research (both of which involve huge amounts of time). I did so because I was so exhausted last summer that I took weeks to recover (and was sick with a couple of viruses in May and June).

So, each morning, I spring from bed with new vegan experiments in my mind. Today, I was excited to try a few ideas for the elusive perfect veggie burger, and, through trial and error, I’ve come up with something pretty good….but not perfect. I’m going to try dehydrating more smoky mushrooms (which we scarfed down lickety-split) and adding those to the mix in the future.

What I came up with is a good base though!

Best (so far!) Veggie Burger



  • 2 TBS chia/flax seeds (you can use either; I used a mix of the two)
  • 1/3 cup universal marinade

…and leave for ten minutes to thicken up.

Saute until brown:

  • 1 chopped yellow onion

….and set aside.

Meanwhile, add the following to a food processor and pulse until it’s a chunky mixture:

  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup Daiya shreds (I used cheddar)
  • ¼ red  pepper, very finely chopped
  • 2 ounces of raw beet
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 TBS miso
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • 1 TBS BTB paste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

It actually kinda looks like hamburger meat:


In a mixing bowl, mix the above with the fried onions and the chia/marinade mixture, and add:

  • 1 cup sprouted red lentils
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds


Form into very thin patties and pan fry or grill until crispy on both sides or bake on oil-sprayed parchment paper (spray top of patties with a bit of oil) at 400 for ten minutes, turn and bake for another ten minutes.


It looks pretty good, and the texture is definitely getting there!

Annie gave me the tip to use beets, which makes the colour rather meaty looking and adds to the texture. She also mentioned using shredded apple, but that little experiment didn’t work (and just made the burger mushier).

You can also form the non-meat into not-meatballs and bake for 20-25 minutes at 430 degrees. Serve with spaghetti and tomato sauce (with vegan parmesan, of course!):



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