Burgers have a bad reputation for being unhealthy and high in calories, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a few smart tweaks, you can still make a delicious burger that is low in fat and nutritious.
Use these tips to help build better-for-you burgers.
Trim the fat, but keep it juicy
Planning your burger starts with the meat and the first thing to consider before balancing out the bun and condiments is to make sure you find a balanced amount of meat to include.
When you’re shopping for meat, a quick way to sort through the options is by looking for meat that’s between 90 and 95 percent lean.
Choosing lean meat, whether that’s ground beef, turkey, or chicken, is an easy way to reduce saturated fat content.
If you’re beef-eaters, choose lean ground sirloin, instead of fatty ground beef.
Just keep in mind that while leaner options cut fat and calories, they can dry out your burger. To keep it as juicy as it can be, handle the meat as little as possible when forming the patties.
Once the burgers are on the grill or in the skillet, avoid pressing them with a spatula, which can release even more juice.
Choose a whole-wheat bun.
A 100 percent whole-grain bun adds filling fiber and other nutrients to your meal.
You could go without the bread and go creative using lettuce leaves instead.
Generally, burger buns are given a bit of butter before being toasted but by skipping the butter it is easy to save 100 calories in every burger, and best of all, you won’t even notice the difference.
Avocado are especially great for lean beef burger recipes, as you get a dose of healthy fats and flavor at the same time.
Skip the sides
A burger paired with a side of fries, has been served together for generations but as you would know, french fries are tremendously unhealthy. Wherever possible, avoid grabbing fries or other high-fat side dishes and desserts.
Try adding a green salad, fresh fruit, beans or grilled vegetables. If you really can’t resist the temptation of some fries, it’s far more healthy to oven-cook your own than heavily salted, deep-fried potatoes.
Watching what you drink is of equal importance when you have your meal. Soft drinks and shakes are loaded with refined sugars and have been shown to increase blood pressure and lead to type 2 diabetes.
Skip the sodas and go for a big healthy glass of water instead.
Add in some grilled veggies
Every meal should have veggies, so when you’re grilling, add a few chopped grilled veggies such as onions, peppers or even zucchini and eggplant.
Most people don’t realize that vegetables retain more of their vitamins and minerals when they’re grilled. This is especially true with veggies that have a low water content.
Try grilling sweet corn or make veggie kabobs as a side dish.
The add ons
Condiments like mustard, ketchup and steak sauce are lower in calories.
Many condiments add sodium like ketchup. Instead of squirting a lot of ketchup to your meal, limit your serving size to one tablespoon.
Mustard should be used in moderation as well. Limit your servings to one to two teaspoons for sandwiches or burgers.
Honey mustard on the other hand is higher in calories and sugar than regular mustard, but lower in sodium.
Rather than ketchup or mustard, try strongly flavored cheeses, such as cheddar sliced thin or a bit of blue cheese
Here are two lean burger recipes from The Food Network.
- 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey breast
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Divide turkey into 4 equal sized rounds.
Make 2 equal sized patties out of each round so you have 8 patties total. Sprinkle 4 of the patties with 2 tablespoons red peppers and cheese, and top with remaining patties, working the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed.
Season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
Juicy Grilled 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
- 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. 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, turning occasional