For National Cheeseburger Day: Healthy Burger Hacks
I’ve always loved a good burger. I just think it’s such an efficient and delicious delivery system for nutrients—if you make it the right way. I love how creative you can get with burgers, from the bun itself to the main source of protein to the condiments and even the sides. Burgers have come a long way since the little sandwiches of white bread and mystery meat served up at drive thru’s and fast food chains fifty years ago. The word burger doesn’t have to be synonymous with unhealthy or cheat day (which are problematic in their own right). All you need to make a burger, really, is a main source of protein, and two things to hold it together. What you do in between is your business. Well, we are making it our business on National Cheeseburger Day. Here are yummy, healthy hacks to make a better burger.
Spice up your patties
Get some spice in your burger by adding Anaheim chilis, jalapenos, or curry directly into the patty. Spicy foods have a way of curbing your appetite, and, because you need to take it slow on the stuff (due to your mouth being on fire), you won’t scarf it down. It’ll also drive you to reach for your water more, filling you up on liquids.
Use Greek yogurt instead of mayo
Instead of mayonnaise, reach for Greek yogurt for your creamy condiment. You’ll get a boost of calcium and added protein. You can also use guacamole instead of mayonnaise for some healthy fats.
Scoop the bread from the bun
You can still use your favorite, all white bun that you loved in childhood, just scoop some of the bread out, leaving mostly the outer part. This removes empty carbs and makes more room for healthy toppings like sautéed vegetables and lettuce.
Try salsa instead of ketchup
Try salsa, rather than ketchup, for your tomato fix. Not only is it almost sugar-free, but its tomatoes also boost a high water content that can help fill you up.
Put your salad in your burger
Whether it’s a kale salad with shredded carrots, spinach salad with sunflower seeds, or Caesar salad, pile it right on top of your burger. And then, also, still have it as a side. The more veggies you consume, the less hungry you’ll be for extra servings of bread and meat.
Add healthy (read: vinegar based and not mayo-based) coleslaw to your burger. You’ll get a nice crunch and you’ll get the probiotic benefits of the pickled food.
Add oats to your meat
If you’re making your own meat patties, mix in some oat bran. It’s a sneaky way to get more fiber, without altering the flavor of your food.
Make it with lean meat
Look for 90 percent lean meat. You can go with beef, chicken, or turkey—just make sure to get the lean stuff. Even turkey—though a great red meat substitute—when high in fat, can be bad for you, so don’t assume poultry is always the better choice.
Watch the serving size
In restaurants, you may find mounds of meat so tall you can barely bite them without the whole burger falling apart. You don’t need that—you only need about four ounces of meat in a meal.
Or go meatless
There are so many delicious ways to make a patty without meat. Try quinoa, black bean, lentil, or brown rice burgers. Then, of course, there is the Impossible or Beyond burger.
Use mushrooms instead of buns
Swap out the buns and swap in Portobello mushrooms. They’re much lower in carbs, and add nutrients, fiber, and a high water content.
Add chopped veggies to your patty
When making your own meat patties, sneak in chopped veggies. You can get finely diced onions, zucchini, mushrooms, or carrots in there and you won’t even notice the flavor difference.
Go for strong, but less, cheese
If you must have cheese, go for the more potent stuff—you’ll get more flavor, with less. Try Gouda, blue cheese, or parmesan. If you just want lots of cheese, go for low-skim mozzarella.
Make veggie fries
We haven’t forgotten about the sides! But instead of potato fries, try making vegetable ones like zucchini, string beans, or even beet.
Eat your pickles
Say yes to big spheres of pickles. Most contain zero calories, and they introduce probiotics into your system that will help you better digest your food.