Build a Healthier Burger

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The search for a better burger is a national pastime. Is there anything better than a burger during grilling season?

In fact, burgers sizzling on the grill are as American as apple pie. But with so many Americans hummus for a Mediterranean-style burger; arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for an Italian version; or teriyaki sauce and a grilled pineapple slice for an Asian burger.

Putting a “surprise” inside the burger before you cook it is another great way to add moisture, flavor and fun. Try a scoop of cheese, a grape tomato, or some sautéed onions.

Just remember that when it comes to flavor, fresh ingredients make all the difference.

“Use the freshest, bright cherry-red meat; find the plumpest, juiciest tomatoes; select flavorful lettuce and a hearty whole-grain bun for the best burgers,” says Chamberlain.

Better Burger Beware: Watch Your Sides

Whether you’re ordering a burger at a restaurant or cooking your own, skip the french fries and other high-fat side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. Complement your lean burger with fresh fruit, green salad, beans, or veggies for a nutritious meal.

“Also, watch what you drink along with your healthy burger,” says Kris-Etherton. “Don’t drink a super-size cola beverage.”

Stay hydrated with calorie-free beverages such as sparkling water, plain water, or drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners.

Better Burger Recipes

Read to get grilling? Here are two lean burger recipes from The Healthy Beef Cookbook.

Basic Lean Beef Burgers

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one burger as “1 serving lean meat with 1 teaspoon fat” + 1 egg

1 pound extra-lean ground beef (also called 95/5 or 5%)
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
Toppings: lettuce leaves, tomato slices (optional)

  • Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg white, salt, and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four 1/2-inch thick patties.
  • Place patties on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, 11 to 13 minutes to medium (160°F) doneness (until no longer pink in center and juices show no pink color), turning occasionally.
  • Line bottom of each bun with lettuce and tomato, if desired; top with burger. Close sandwiches.

Yield: 4 servings.

Per serving: 272 calories; 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat); 65 mg cholesterol; 439 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 3.6 g fiber; 27 g protein; 6.8 mg niacin; 0.4 mg vitamin B-6; 2.1 mcg vitamin B-12; 3.6 mg iron; 41.9 mcg selenium; 6.4 mg zinc.

Asian Burgers With Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one burger as “1 serving lean meat with teaspoon fat” + 1 egg + 1 teaspoon butter or margarine + 1 serving side salad without fat

America’s favorite food gets an Asian spin.

Burgers:
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (also called 95/5 or 5%)
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 whole wheat hamburger buns, split

Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or green onion tops

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)

Toppings:
Shredded Napa cabbage or lettuce, bell pepper strips, bean sprouts

  • Combine ginger-lemon mayonnaise ingredients in small bowl; refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg white, salt, and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four 1/2-inch thick patties.
  • Place patties on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, 11-13 minutes to medium (160°F) doneness (until no longer pink in center and juices show no pink color), turning occasionally and basting with 2 tablespoons soy sauce during last 5 minutes of grilling. About 2 minutes before burgers are done, place buns, cut sides down, on grid. Grill until lightly toasted.
  • Place burger on bottom of each bun; top with equal amount of mayonnaise and toppings, if desired. Close sandwiches.

Yield: 4 servings.

Per serving: 340 calories; 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat); 70 mg cholesterol; 937 mg sodium; 26 g carbohydrate; 3.4 g fiber; 28 g protein; 6.8 mg niacin; 0.4 mg vitamin B-6; 2.1 mcg vitamin B-12; 3.6 mg iron; 41.9 mcg selenium; 6.4 mg zinc.

Published July 14, 2006.

Recipes from The Healthy Beef Cookbook, Wiley, 2006.