To a small saucepan, add water and rinsed lentils and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 18 minutes, or until tender. The water should have a constant simmer (not boil). Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.
When the lentils are almost finished cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and onion and season with a pinch each salt and pepper (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Stir to combine, and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions are tender and slightly browned.
Next add cooked lentils, carrots, coconut sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper and BBQ sauce (see photo). Stir to combine.
Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat until completely warmed through and thick, stirring occasionally - about 5-10 minutes.
Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more paprika for smokiness, salt for saltiness, coconut sugar for sweetness, or BBQ sauce for depth of flavor.
Optional: Scoop half of the mixture into a food processor and (using the "s" shaped blade) mix/pulse to mash some of the lentils and carrots together. This creates a more cohesive texture, which I prefer.
Serve the mixture on toasted buns of choice with toppings of choice. I went with shredded red cabbage, carrots, and sliced green onions. Serve with extra BBQ sauce for more flavor.
Best when fresh, though lentil mixture will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, adding water if the mixture has dried out.
*Most hamburger buns are naturally vegan. Just check the package to make sure there aren’t any animal products. The only brand of Vegan/GF buns I’ve liked are by the brand Happy Camper. I also like Udi’s, but they do contain eggs. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate.