My not-so-guilty pleasure – The Very Veggie Mac

I have something to confess. I am a McDonald’s addict. And in the last 10 weeks since the food-chain opened in Vietnam I’ve had no less than 5 Big Macs. There. I said it. Wow, that felt good. Only a few of my closest confidants had been made aware up till now so to finally come out like this in public is a relief.


Back in the UK I was known to frequent this temple of gluttony all too often; always sticking to my large Big Mac with a strawberry milkshake and sweet and sour sauce. Daaamn, those flavours were just other worldly, how on earth could something that tastes like that be the work of human hands? Just thinking about McDonald’s would result in a late night binge sat in my car. It was just, you know, normal.


Psychology Today published an article in 2011, called 7 Things McDonald’s Knows About Your Brain, explaining the neuroscience behind the addictiveness of McDonald’s. As well as the cocaine-like addiction that sugar has on the human brain, McDonald’s thrives on being a cheap, convenient super-chain with calorific branded food, which, upon consumption, releases feelings of nostalgia with every bite. And the brain just loves it!


Before the grand opening of McDonald’s in Vietnam in early February this year, the last time I had stepped foot anywhere near the Golden Arches was when I was in Thailand in April 2012. Due to a lack of supply during the last 2 years I felt truly free from the grip of my [absolutely real] addiction. However, it was clearly just lying dormant all this time.


For someone who has become an advocate for healthy living and regular exercise since living in Vietnam, I’ve woefully let the side down and I apologise wholeheartedly for that.


So, in order to still get my regular hit of secret sauce, I needed to find a healthier alternative with a near identical taste. It didn’t take me long to come across a YouTube video detailing the ingredients of the secret sauce from none other than McDonald’s themselves,  and instead of beef patties, I have used two big squishy portobello mushrooms. The beauty of this recipe is you can use any kind of ‘burger’. I chose portobello mushrooms because they are super fast to prepare and uber healthy.


And now, what follows is the wonder that is ZupaDream’s Very Veggie Mac.


Not-So-Secret Sauce Sans Sucre – for 2-3 burgers (All quantities are approximate)

Mayonnaise (vegan alternatives can be found online) – 3-4tbsp

Yellow mustard – 1-2tbsp

Sweet pickle relish -2tbsp

White-wine vinegar – 2tbsp

Onion powder – 1tbsp

Garlic powder – 1tbsp

Paprika – 1/2tbsp

1/2 finely chopped medium-sized onion


Burger – for one

2 portobello mushrooms

1 cup of washed and shredded iceberg lettuce

Sliced dill pickles

2 burger buns (sesame seed, sugar free and preferably medium sized)

1 slice of cheese


Preparing the sauce

It will take a period of trial and error to get the perfect balance of flavours to match the secret sauce. This recipe excludes sugar so if you think the taste is lacking a little something, it will be that. If I were you, I’d take as long as is needed to get it just right. It really is the most important part of your burger eating experience.


– Preparing the mushrooms

I marinated and lightly fried the portobello mushrooms in soya sauce, which infused a subtle smokiness to the mushrooms. Next time I think I’d like to add a little coconut caramel. You’re free to experiment with the flavours of your mushrooms; everyone will have their own particular preference, but try not to use an intense flavour, such as garlic, as it will impact on the secret sauce.


– Preparing the buns

(OK, it’s a bit obvious what you have to do with the burger buns but I can’t just leave this bit out!)

Slice one burger bun in half – these will be your top and bottom. For the centre bun, carefully slice the ‘dome’ and the base from the top and bottom of the other bun. To toast the buns, I personally dry-fried them in a clean shallow pan but you can use whatever works best for you. Brown the inside of the top and bottom buns and both sides of the centre bun.


Constructing the burger

The Big Mac is constructed with almost mathematical brilliance, so we’re going to unashamedly copy it. Here are 7 steps for getting the ZupaDream Very Veggie Mac in your mouth.

IMG_0735 copy

1. Smother the secret sauce on the inside of your bottom bun and on one side of your centre bun.

2. Place shredded lettuce on top of the sauce on each bun.

3. Add a slice of cheese to the bottom bun and the dill pickles to the centre bun.

4. Place a portobello mushroom onto each bun.

5. Place the centre bun on top of the bottom bun.

6. Place the top bun on top of the centre bun.

7. EAT!


Would you like to see a recipe for your guilty pleasure that won’t make you feel so guilty? Let us know and we’ll remake your favourite meals with a healthy twist.


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