Food For Thought: Build A Better Burger

Nothing says summer like relaxing on the deck while a delicious burger sizzles on the barbecue. But traditional burgers may not always fit in your healthy eating plan. Some simple changes can help you make the most of every bite.
Let’s start with the star of every good burger: the patty. Cut the fat by using lean ground beef, chicken or turkey. Add grated veggies like onion, carrot or mushrooms to keep it juicy. Then add extra flavor with herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, dill, chili powder, cumin or smoked paprika. Prefer a vegetarian option? Try a grilled portabella mushroom cap or a patty made from black beans or chickpeas.
Use a meat thermometer to get the perfect cook on your burger. Put the thermometer through the side of the patty, all the way to the middle. Beef, pork, veal or lamb should read 160⁰F. Poultry should be cooked to 165⁰F.
You can also make healthier choices when choosing a bun for your burger. Choose a whole grain or whole wheat bun, or use pita or flatbread for a change. Or think outside the bun and wrap your burger in a large leaf lettuce, like Boston bib or romaine. If you like lots of toppings, try an open faced burger so you have room to pile on the veggies… and you’ll probably need to eat it with a knife and fork.
That brings us to the toppings, where the possibilities are endless. Try fresh or grilled veggies such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms or zucchini. Add some greens with spinach, lettuce or arugula. Add a new flavour with condiments like tzatziki, salsa, pesto, guacamole or hummus.
Use smaller amounts of salty or sweet sauces. Look for lower sodium ketchup or sugar reduced BBQ sauce. Opt for a strong tasting cheese. A small amount will give you a punch of flavor for fewer calories and less fat. Try smoked Gouda, spiced Havarti, feta or goat cheese.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and tempt your taste buds with a new flavor combinations! Try a chicken patty with bocconcini cheese, sliced tomato and fresh basil. Top a turkey burger with caramelized onions, sliced pears and brie cheese for a sweet and savory burger. Maybe bring a Mediterranean flair to your beef burger by topping it with tzatziki, sliced cucumber, red onion and feta.
Looking for more healthy cooking ideas? Call 633-7787 or email caroline.black@sobeys.com or maryann.petersgallant@sobeys.com to learn more about Sobeys Dietitian’s classes.