Dr. J’s Famous Paleo Vegetable Breakfast Burger

Inspirational Portland graffiti for the vegetably challenged.

…. Uh?  Breakfast burger?  Yes, indeed.  Time for a dietary reboot for the doc here.  This week summer appears to have arrived in Portland for real — and with it the realization that none of my summer clothes actually fit me anymore.  What a terrific feeling!  I will say just once for the record how much I LOVE feeling like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman just when everyone is busting out their sundresses.  Medical education has never been good for my own health, and Chinese Medicine school does not seem to be an exception.  Over the last two years of classes I’ve exercised waaay less, sat in countless hours of lecture, studied for countless more, been a lot more anxious and lonely, and eaten a whole bunch more junk food to try to feel better.  And guess what?  I’ve gained 15 pounds.  Sound familiar to anyone?

… Time to take that first step …

Well, fortunately, I know the recipe(s) for fixing all of this.  Start moving, increase green vegetables, and stop eating refined sugars.  Now, this is muuuch easier said than done, but over years of trial and error, I’ve found what works for me and has worked for a lot of patients as well — who remain a continual inspiration.  My good friend and colleague, Stefan Ripich ND (author of The 30 Day Diabetes Cure), first introduced me to the practice of reversing diabetes and jump-starting dramatic, sustainable weight loss with a very low carbohydrate eating plan.  When I saw the results his patients were seeing, I started recommending it as well.  I also recommend the book, Eat to Live — a simple read by Joel Fuhrman MD.  The combination of a basically paleo (no grain/dairy) approach together with Dr. Fuhrman’s mostly vegan emphasis on lots and lots of veggies takes the weight off fast and sustainably; lifts mood; clears up aches, pains and skin issues; and increases energy.  Note that I chose a photo of beautiful salad greens as the featured image for today’s post about a burger.  Why?  Because eating paleo doesn’t simply mean gorging on meat — at least in this simple family doc’s opinion.  Anthropologists know that the term “Gatherer Hunter” is more appropriate for what most of our ancestors did.  I don’t preach any particular dogma except — LESS PROCESSED FOOD, MORE VEGETABLES!  YAAAAY!!

Healthful fats like avocados help keep you full.  Plus, they just taste really good.

As delightful as this all sounds, making the transition from stress-induced, slothful bad habits to a better way of doing things is always rough no matter how motivated I am. A key is having pre-made, high protein breakfasts that I can just grab out of the fridge in the morning with absolutely zero effort other than opening the door.  This week’s recipe (so simple it’s barely a recipe) was concocted years ago out of desperation.  Then I started noticing that wherever I unwrapped my odd creation, people started drooling over it.  So, here it is, folks … sometimes I also make these with homemade salmon or chickpea burgers.  Recipes for those coming up down the line.  For an easy vegan version, you can also use a grilled portobello mushroom instead of the burger.  You could also add some of the hummus from a few posts ago or the pesto from last week … experiment!


  • 1 lb ground beef (grass-fed if possible)
  • 4 large red bell peppers (as big as you can find!)
  • 4 avocados
  • 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin, coriander & tumeric (or a curry powder you like)
  • as many cloves of garlic as you feel like chopping
  • raw sauerkraut or sprouts or baby greens — or all three!
  • salt to taste
  • vinegar to taste (I like balsamic or ume plum vinegar)
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are now well-known.  I first learned about this years ago from a patient, who had weaned himself off Ibuprofen by taking turmeric capsules for his arthritis. 

Mix the minced garlic, turmeric & cumin (anti-inflammatory spices I add to pretty much everything) into the ground beef, shape into patties and plop in a frying pan.  Meanwhile, cut the stems off your peppers and remove seeds from insides, leaving the pepper whole.  (One of my former wonderful medical assistants, Viki, took the extra step of lightly grilling her peppers, which is a nice touch if you don’t want it completely raw — just don’t let it get too soft — it needs to hold everything together!)  Cut each avocado in half, and scoop all of the insides from the whole thing out into the pepper.  Mash it down with a fork.  Now put a big scoop of drained sauerkraut or a big handful of baby spinach or sprouts or whatever greens combo you want in on top.  Get as many greens in there as you can!! Finish off by stuffing in your burger.  The burger can stick out the top — like a cork on a bottle.  Sprinkle salt and a little vinegar on top.  Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap or foil, and line them up in your fridge, ready for action.

That’s it!  I make a week’s worth at once, and it saves me every time …

Easy to transport on my bike, easy to eat at a desk in school, and boy am I FULL after this … it does the job 🙂




One Comment Add yours

  1. Viki Payton says:

    Looks yummy! And one of my favorites!! PS thanks for remembering me😌


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