We know, we know – charred ground beef on a bun isn’t the healthiest dinner option around. Unless you are planning a vegetarian conversion, however, it is unlikely that you are going to kick the hamburger habit any time soon.
The following tips can be used separately or can be combined to create a truly healthy hamburger.
1. Watch the size of your patty. Contrary to what restaurants would have you believe, most humans actually don’t need to eat a hamburger the size of their heads. Watch commercials from the '50s for inspiration, and then cook your patties to a nice small size. Three ounces is the standard serving size of beef, about the size of a deck of cards. Alternatively, you can make “sliders,” or tiny little burgers – just don’t let their cute stature trick you into eating five.
2. Choose top-grade, organic ground sirloin for your patties, or combine the sirloin with ground chuck or untrimmed brisket for a fattier patty. You don’t want to cut out all the fat (and all the taste), but using sirloin for at least part of your patty will add up to a healthier burger.
3. Try ground turkey, pork or chicken for your patty. While no one can doubt the dominance of the beef burger, sandwiches made from leaner, lighter meat are making a comeback as well. Try a pork patty with coleslaw and grilled pineapple for a Hawaiian burger, or top grilled chicken with green chilies and barbeque sauce for a Southwestern slant.
4. Go veg. Why not explore new flavors? For your next hamburger, try a Portobello mushroom patty instead of beef. Or grill up an organic vegetable patty, top it with fresh produce and then substitute a large lettuce leaf for the bun – now that’s a healthy burger!
5. Sneak in vegetables. Not big on veggie patties and lettuce-leaf buns? Then sneak nutrition into your meat patty by adding chopped vegetables to the raw meat mixture before you shape it into a burger. Diced onions, chopped peppers, grated zucchini or carrots will bulk up your beef, add juice and deliver an extra serving of nutrition with each bite.
6. Skip the mayo for mustard. Mayonnaise is made from egg yolk and oil and is almost all fat; choose mustard instead and cut down your calorie count. There are so many varieties of mustard to choose from, from spicy and hot to sweet and tangy, so find your favorite and you may realize that you don’t even miss the mayo at all.
7. Pile on the greens. Forget the extra cheese and bacon and instead top your burger with a pile of fresh vegetables, not only lettuce, tomato and onion but also cucumber slices, chopped cabbage, baby spinach leaves, arugula, watercress and alfalfa sprouts. Get creative and infuse your burger with the bright colors of the produce world for added crunch and extra nutrition.
8. Forget the fries. One of the unhealthiest parts of a hamburger is the giant serving of French fries that always seems to come alongside it. Just say no – order a green salad instead to make your overall meal much healthier.