Don't Feel Guilt...Eat that Burger!

Bridgette Pendleton-Snyder SWQ Winter 2019

After many weeks of holiday parties, family gatherings and hibernating on the couch, I know how hard it can be to stick to that ohso-common New Years Resolution of “eating healthier and getting in shape” when the days are grey, snowy and kind-of blah. Instead of hitting the gym it’s much easier to bunker-down with a can of Pringles, daydream about ditching the inter coat and welcoming in the long-awaited spring. Which, then, makes me think about grilling outdoors. Which, THEN, makes me think about juicy burgers. Which, you may be thinking, are definitely NOT a healthy food choice. Amiright? But what you put between your buns makes all the difference in the world, my friends.

So, to satisfy these cravings, and help you stay on that healthy train, here are a few tips and tricks to keep you on track.

Grilling is always a healthy method of cooking, but since it’s 18° outside and there’s a foot of snow on the grill, let’s skip the grill and cook up those patties on the stovetop. My favorite tool for a perfectly cooked burger is a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Getting the pan smoking’ hot is the key. All three of these heart-healthy burgers can be prepared this way. If you don’t own a cast-iron skillet, don’t fret, a regular frying pan will do the trick. Just remember to coat it first with a bit of olive oil or cooking spray.

Let’s start with a version of the “All-American Cheeseburger”. To make a healthier version, start by adding some minced fresh veggies, like carrots, onion and celery to a lower-fat ground beef. The veggies will not only add volume and flavor, but they also help to keep the burger juicy. Just before it’s done in the pan, top it with a slice of lower-fat aged cheddar. Choose a whole grain or gluten-free bun to help reduce calories, then load that baby up with plenty of healthy toppings, such as a nice leafy lettuce, red onion, sliced pickles, mustard and homemade katsup. If you like a little more zip, add some jalapenos and a dash of hot sauce.

My next favorite is an Asian inspired “Shrimp Burger”. Shrimp is naturally low in fat, so when combined with a bit of “Szechwan Five Spice Powder”, ground ginger, garlic, egg whites and panko (or almond flour to keep it gluten free), your taste buds will be surely be doing a happy-dance. Top it with my sweet and spicy maple sriracha sauce and shredded slaw. This is sure to become a household favorite.

I can’t forget about my plant-based friends. Let’s get ready to devour a beautiful “Beet and Cauliflower Burger”! I’ve found that many pre-made veggie burgers tend to be a bit bland and usually on the dry-side. Adding smashed kidney beans and some nice smoky spices keeps this veggie burger juicy and full of flavor. I like to top it with sliced avocado (a great mayo substitute), raw onion and a honey BBQ sauce. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or somewhere on the other end, this burger will fill you up AND tantalize those taste buds.

Last, but definitely not least… don’t forget the fries! You can still keep it healthy with simple alternatives such as sweet potato wedges, veggie tots or sliced, seasoned potatoes baked in the oven. No deep frying, heavy oil or grease needed to make it feel like you are still indulging.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Tweak them a bit and find ways to make them your own. And, remember, keeping it healthy doesn’t need to be boring. Eat up!