As the weather heats up, outdoor grills come out of hiding. July 4th gatherings often center around cooking in the great outdoors. And what holiday party would be complete without a hot, perfectly grilled burger. Consider these modifications to build a better, healthier burger.
• Choose your meat wisely. If ground beef is a must, choose a leaner variety such as ground sirloin. Ground sirloin or, even better, 93%/7% lean beef deliver great beef flavor but with less total and saturated fats. Ground turkey breast or even buffalo are other good options but will require some tricks to ensure a juicy burger. Try adding some slow cooked onions to the meat prior to making your patties. Or add cooked spinach (squeezed dry) and feta for a Mediterranean style burger.
• Go fishing. Fish burgers will provide even less saturated fat and more of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Roughly chop a cooked skinned salmon filet or sushi grade tuna steak and gently mix with scallions and other desired seasonings. Don’t over handle the fish however or you’ll end up with a mushy burger. If you have time, allow the patties to chill in the refrigerator before cooking so that they hold their shape. Or add an egg and breadcrumbs to bind the patty. Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent the burger from sticking.
• Veg out. Frozen veggie burgers can be a great alternative if chosen wisely. Look for burgers with less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. Read the ingredient list and be sure you can identify most of the ingredients listed. “Textured vegetable protein” refers to the soy protein often used in veggie burgers. Veggie burgers should provide 5 g protein per serving if they are to be the only protein source at your meal. Another healthy and delicious vegetarian option is a grilled portabella mushroom cap. Combine garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, brush over the portabella cap and let sit for 30 minutes prior to grilling for a meaty taste.
• Pile on the veggies. The skies the limit when adding veggies to top off your burger. Tomato season perfectly coincides with grilling season. Romaine lettuce adds the perfect crunch. And grilled or raw, pile on the onion of your choice.
• Banish the bun. Why not serve your burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf or on top of fresh salad greens. If using the basic bun, serve our burger open faced or choose whole wheat buns with > 2 g fiber per serving.