Healthy Hamburgers: Savor the Summer, Save the Calories
Build A Healthy Summer Burger
Lunch time is a perfect chance to take a step back from the work bench and let your thoughts carry you wherever they may. To give your brain a bit of a prompt during a sluggish work day, “Food for Thought” is here to offer the mind an adequate serving of information. Bon appetite!
Today's Special: Healthy Hamburgers
Few things capture the flavor of summer quite like a hamburger fresh off the grill. The tantalizing aroma alone can get the whole family running for dinner plates to be the first one to dig in.
The great thing about summer cooking is that there are several ways to do it, and therefore, plenty of ways to keep your next grilling masterpiece both tasty and healthy with just a few simple changes.
The heart and soul of a burger, the meat is where it all begins. Most grocery stores carry several options of ground meat, which can lead to the question of what will get the job done while saving the most on calories and fat.
Assuming ground turkey and veggie burgers are not an option, the first thing to do is look for lean beef. Packaged meat usually comes labeled with how lean the beef is. Aiming for 90-95% lean can save hundreds of calories per pound and cut down on saturated fats while still retaining the natural flavor of the beef. Also be sure to avoid premade, frozen patties as they tend to be full of extra sodium to preserve the products.
When it comes time to sculpt the patties, less is more. Making smaller size patties keeps portion sizes in check and prevents food from being wasted if you or your guests can't finish your awesome creation. Better to have left over patties to enjoy in the days to come than watch money and food be thrown out as half eaten meals.
In years past, the bun was a tough obstacle to get around. As a result, many an appetite was filled by the bread instead of the burger itself.
Fortunately, bread companies have caught onto this, as well as the demand for more calorie conscious burger bun options and have created thinner buns. Substituting a giant roll with a whole wheat "sandwich thin" keeps the attention on the perfectly crafted patty while at the same time eliminating extra carbs and calories. A whole wheat English muffin is also a great alternative.
From barbecue sauce and yellow mustard, to mayonnaise and ketchup, a host of salt, sugar, and calories hide in every bottle waiting to undo the good done by lean beef and bread choice.
Since these toppings have become summer essentials, keep an eye on how much goes onto your burger if it's a must at the cookout. Piling on lettuce, green peppers, spinach leaves, tomatoes, and onions keeps the meal filling and gives a generous serving of veggies with every bite.
If cheese is also a requirement, provolone beats out cheddar and American in terms of nutrients, packing more calcium and protein than its competitors. However, cheese contains natural fat, so one slice per burger or skipping it altogether is usually the best choice.
Seasonings are almost always salt based. Sprinkle some ground parsley, oregano, or Moringa powder to create a unique blend of flavors and save on the sodium count.