Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger & an Activated Charcoal Bun

We launched this blog with the rather bold statement that there would be a lot of burgers. And then, suddenly, there weren’t. We’re not quite sure where we lost our way in life but it seems like steamed veggies have been taking pride of place at home and frankly, that just isn’t right.

This is mostly because of Tamzyn and my nutritionists encouraging more ‘steamed’ things and less ‘legumey’ things to help our digestion. However, one cannot call one’s self ‘creative’ if you are only able to be so with a whole pantry at your disposal. With our limited list of allowed-foods, we came up with this burger sort of by accident. We wanted to make a bright red beetroot burger, after the pinkish hummus that was also meant to be red… but we forgot to buy a beetroot. Again. What is with us and these red-roots? Still craving a burger and still wanting it to be hearty, we wiped our slates clean and started with an orange sweet potato instead. Red. Orange. Same thing? Next to each other in the rainbow, at the very least.

Sweet potatoes are extremely nutrient dense and form a great base from which to work. We grated in our carrots raw to keep the overall sugar of the patties low. Roasting vegetables can double their sugar apparently. No wonder they’re so delicious! We added parsley, cumin and smoked paprika to add complexity in flavour; quinoa for a little extra bulk and protein and pumpkin seeds because they’re significantly high in zinc and vitamin E in a wide diversity of forms. We added a little gluten-free flour too as both the sweet potato and carrot made the mixture a little less solid than we wanted. We baked ours, but if you’d like to take them to the next braai you go to, you could always bake them at home for a little while and store them in the fridge until the day. They’ll hold together well over a fire then.

I suppose by now you might be wondering why we burnt our buns and haven’t mentioned it?
Or maybe you’ve figured out the secret ingredient to them already (oh, wait it’s literally in the title. Oops!). Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. Plus it just looks damn cool. We love elevating our burgers from greasy fast food to healthy, filled with nutrients, little power-patties between two buns. Or on a bed of leaves. “I want to lay you down on a bed of kale” – a vegan love song.

We hope you love this burger as much as we did. Proof that accidents can be happy!



Activated Charcoal Buns

Makes 4 Large Buns

  • 1 1/2 cups Warm Water
  • 1tbsp Instant Dry Yeast
  • 1/2tsp Sugar
  • 2tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 2-3tbsp Activated Charcoal
  • 4 cups All-Purpose Flour

Sweet Potato Patties

Makes 4 patties

  • 1 Large Orange Sweet Potato / 2 Medium sized Sweet Potato
  • 1 cup Carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup Mixed Quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Gluten-Freee Flour Blend
  • 1 Birdseye Chilli, deseeded
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Parsley
  • 1/4tsp Cumin
  • 1/4tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 – 2tsp Olive Oil

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 Medium Red onion, sliced
  • 1/2tsp Sugar
  • 1/2tsp Salt
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar (We used white wine vinegar)

Fennel & Dill Side Salad

  • 1 Fennel Bulb, shaved or thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Cucumber, sliced
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • Few Dill leaves for Garnish


  • Rocket & Baby Spinach
  • Avocado

Charcoal Buns

  1. In a small cup; mix together the warm water, instant yeast, and sugar. Stir and set aside for 10min.
  2. Using a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the oil, salt, activated charcoal and 2 cups of the flour. Using a wooden spoon stir well to combine.
  3. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour a little at a time, using your hands to fully incorporate.
  4. Lightly flour a clean surface, turn out the flour and knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Lightly oil another large bowl and place dough in the bowl, turning it over to coat the dough in oil.
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and store in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. this will take approximately 1 hour. (Do not leave to rise overnight as the dough will start hardening and deflate)
  7. Once the dough has risen, deflate the dough on a lightly floured surface by knocking it down with your fists.
  8. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts (6 if you’re making smaller buns) and form into rounds.
  9. Place your rounded balls onto a greased baking sheet, keeping them a good distance apart.
  10. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled, about 40min – 1hour.
  11. Preheat your oven while the buns are rising to 200 degrees Celsius and bake your rolls for 20min.
  12. Remove and let cool. If you don’t plan on using them that day, freeze them immediately, and defrost when ready to use.

Pickled Red Onions

  1. Start by boiling 2-3 cups of water in the kettle.
  2. Peel and thinly slice your red onion into half moons.
  3. In a clean glass jar/container add the sugar, vinegar, and salt, stirring to dissolve.
  4. Place your sliced onions in a sieve or colander and place in the sink, slowly start pouring the boiling water over the onions and leave for 2min to drain.
  5.  Add the onions to your prepared jar and stir to combine.
  6. Tightly screw the lid on your jar and let stand for 30min. The onions will be ready and taste wonderful but are better served a week later. Store in the refrigerator.

Burger Patties

  1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Rinse your sweet potatoes and chop into 2cm cubes. Arrange your sweet potato on your prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium-sized pan dry roast your pumpkin seeds over medium heat, let roast for approximately 2-3min or until they start popping. Set aside and let cool slightly.
  4. Using a high-speed blender or food processor combine your patty ingredients except for the pumpkin seeds, and pulse to combine. Towards the end add the pumpkin seeds, trying to keep them rough for texture.
  5. Using a tablespoon and your hands form the mixture into rounds.
  6. Place on the same baking sheet you used for the sweet potato, press down lightly and bake for 20-30min at 220 degrees Celsius.

Shaved Fennel Salad

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss them together to evenly coat, season with salt and pepper and set aside until serving.


  1. Cut your activated charcoal bun in half, add a bed of rocket and baby spinach, place your sweet potato and carrot burger patty on top, top with sliced avo and pickled red onions.
  2. Serve alongside your shaved fennel salad.
  3. Enjoy!