Memorial Day and burgers on the grill go hand in hand, but burgers can often be grease-laden calorie bombs-not so appealing for those of us who want to get the summer off to a healthy start. So here at EatingWell we've come up with a suite of Healthy Burger Recipes that are sure to please the palate without plumping your waistline. The key is to think outside the box and experiment with your ingredients. That way you can enjoy a juicy burger on Memorial Day, and many days ahead.
Here are a few of my favorite healthy burger recipes:
Inside-Out Cheeseburgers (see recipe below): Why put the cheese on top of the burger when half of it just melts off? Instead, form the burger around the cheese so you can char the meat and safeguard the more delicate flavors. Use any mixture of hard or semihard cheeses-Emmentaler and Gouda or Asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano also pair well.
Spanish Pork Burgers (click for recipe): This Spanish-themed burger is boldly flavored with sautéed onions (which keep it moist), paprika, garlic and green olives. The creamy mayonnaise spread is tangy with lemon and a hint of earthy saffron.
Smoky Buffalo Burger (click for recipe): Here we flavor sweet, beefy buffalo (bison) with smoked cheese and smoky barbecue sauce. Instead of melted on top, cheese is used here to season the meat-adding moisture and smoky flavor inside the burger. Wild rice bulks up the serving size (and adds vitamins and minerals), while keeping it lean. Plus the flavor and chewy texture are a wonderful complement to the meat. If you can't find buffalo in your store, substitute 90%-lean ground beef.
Chickpea Burgers & Tahini Sauce (click for recipe): Rather than a heavy, fried falafel, here's an updated version of this pocket sandwich: a light chickpea patty served in a whole-wheat pita with a flavorful but light tahini sauce.
"Fajita" Burgers (click for recipe): This spicy burger is served on an oblong roll, slathered with a spicy chipotle mayonnaise and topped with roasted Anaheim peppers and a delicious slaw.
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 35 minutes
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler.
2. Combine Cheddar and Gruyere in a small bowl.
3. Gently mix beef, Worcestershire, paprika and pepper in a large bowl, preferably with your hands, without overworking. Shape into 8 thin, 4-inch-wide patties. Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each of 4 patties, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Cover each with one of the remaining patties. Crimp and seal the edges closed.
4. To grill: Lightly oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the stuffed patties over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. (Be sure not to press the burgers as they cook or they'll split open and the cheese will ooze out.) To broil: Cover a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Broil the stuffed patties in the upper third of the oven, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. In either case, let the burgers stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 250 calories; 16 g fat (7 g sat, 6 g mono); 74 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 24 g protein; 0 g fiber; 164 mg sodium. Nutrition bonus: Zinc (37% daily value), Calcium (15% dv), Iron (15% dv).
TIP: To oil a grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
By Hilary Meyer
EatingWell assistant editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.
Related Links from EatingWell:
- Don't miss the 5th Annual EatingWell Holiday Cookie Contest: You could win a $2,000 Baker's Shopping Spree from Cooking.com and a Year's Worth of Products from Organic Valley (over $700 value)!
- Find over 100 delicious seasonally-inspired recipes in our newest book, EatingWell in Season: The Farmers' Market Cookbook.
- Sign up for EatingWell's free weekly newsletters and get healthy recipes, diet tips and nutrition news delivered right to your inbox.
- Get a free trial issue when you subscribe to EatingWell Magazine.