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Forget the Knives and Forks

Posted on the 11 April 2014 by Pacificprime @ThePacificPrime

healthy burger

Forget the knives and forks: the humble hamburger is in the midst of a renaissance. From Melbourne to Milan, restaurateurs have helped elevate this classic piece of American folklore into an iconic dish. Every day, more and more enthusiasts join the search for the perfect burger, flooding restaurants and gastropubs to gorge on dishes with creative titles: the Heisenburger, the Primetime and the Prohibition.

Our expectations of a burger have evolved. The days of a frozen patty cooked beyond recognition and slapped into a formless bun with a smattering of greenery are beyond us, but the humble burger is still, for the most part, not a healthy meal option. But the hamburger can be improved. We take a look at how to tuck into a burger, guilt-free.

Go Dry

Generally, burger buns are given a liberal slathering of butter before being toasted or tossed on the grill. By simply skipping the butter it is easy to save 100 calories in every burger, and best of all, you won’t even notice the difference.

Watch Your Portion Size

In developed countries, portion sizes have steadily increased while physical activity has dwindled. The result? A population rapidly increasing in girth.

Thanks to the arms race most burger joints are engaged in, the average burger is considerably larger than it was 10 years ago. Health experts recommend consuming no more than 85 to 100 grams of meat in any given meal, but many burgers weigh three times that much. The solution? Avoid loading up on extra patties, and don’t order biggest burger on the menu. Your waistline will thank you for it..

Go Naked — Consider a Paleo Burger

The Paleo diet, also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, is a nutritional plan that draws its core principles from our hunter/gatherer ancestral lifestyle. The Paleo diet encourages followers to consume anything that can be hunted or found (including meats, fish, vegetables and seeds), whilst pastas, cereals, refined sugars and processed foods are off the menu.

Because Paleo dieters are not allowed to eat grain, the Paleo burger is conspicuously missing one of a traditional burger’s most defining characteristics — the bread. This is great encouragement to think outside the bun: you can use two large portobello mushroom caps to create a healthy and satisfying, if messy burger. For a great recipe on an easy to make Paleo burger, click this link.

Cut Down on the Fat

The ground beef used in most burgers averages a fat ratio of 30 percent, meaning that the average hamburger containers as much as 34 grams of fat — more than half of the daily recommended fat intake, and around two-thirds of the recommended saturated fat intake. Using lean or extra-lean ground beef can reduce that fat content to 10 or even 5 percent.

Burger purists maintain that the 30 percent fat ratio is required to maintain the signature juiciness of a burger, but there are a few steps you can take to prevent your burger ending up as dry as a piece of fiberboard. Try adding moistening ingredients like tomato sauce, mushrooms, onions, zucchini or shredded carrot, as well as a tablespoon of olive oil to hold the patties together when cooking. To keep homemade burgers juicy during cooking, chill patties for 30 minutes before hearing, and resist the urge to press down on patties once they’ve hit the pan — that way, the moisture stays inside the burger.

Keep It Simple

A greasy slab of meat is the hamburger’s number one caloric culprit, but high fat additions don’t help. Cheese, egg and bacon can add a truckload of extra calories and cholesterol to your burger, and even those seemingly innocuous mushrooms are often cooked in butter. Consider letting the beef do the work and stick with classic fillings like lettuce, onion and tomato for a healthier burger.

Where’s the Beef?

Whilst beef is loaded with iron, protein, zinc and vitamin B-12, it is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. By simply switching your meat from beef to another protein like fish, chicken or lean turkey, you can shave off calories and tuck into a much more nutritious burger. Add herbs and colourful spices like cilantro, paprika and parsley to increase visual appeal and add flavor.

Skip the Sides

A juicy, delectable burger paired with a side of golden fries: it’s the culinary equivalent of Batman and Robin. They just belong together. A burger and fries is indeed an enduring partnership, but the trouble is that French fries are tremendously unhealthy. Wherever possible, avoid tucking into fat-laden fries or other high-fat side dishes and desserts. For a nutritious complement to your healthy burger, try adding a green salad, fresh fruit, beans or roast vegetables. If you really can’t resist the temptation of some fries, it’s far more healthy to oven-cook your own than to tuck into a batch of greasy, heavily salted, deep-fried potatoes.

Of equal importance is watching what you drink when you have your meal. Soft drinks and shakes are loaded with refined sugars and have been shown to increase blood pressure, destroy your teeth and lead to type 2 diabetes. So, skip the sodas and wash down your burger with a big healthy glass of water.

Go Vego

There was once a time where veggie burgers were exclusively the bastion of vegetarians or those on a weight loss plan, but these days the humble vegetable burger is a popular option for anyone who wants to make healthier choices in their diet. Whether you’re a committed carnivore or not, veggie burgers are a fantastic alternative to traditional beef burgers for a variety of reasons. They’re low calorie and low fat, they are rich in fibre, and are a great way to incorporate extra serves of vegetables into your diet.

Rather than using generic frozen patties from the supermarket, which can be filled with additional preservatives, consider making your own with some of these delicious recipes.

Watch Your Condiments

A healthy burger can easily be sabotaged by a high fat, high calorie condiment, so it’s important to pay attention not just to what’s in the bun, but what’s on the bun too. Ketchup and BBQ sauces are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, a tablespoon of mayonnaise has around 100 calories, and ranch dressing is full of fat. But don’t despair — there are a great range of healthy alternatives that are packed full of flavor. Opt for pesto, plain mustard, salsa, guacamole or homemade hummus for a delicious and guilt-free addition to your burger.

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Top 10 Tips For A Healthier Burger

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