I t's Independence Day, meaning fireworks and cookouts will fire up across the country. Hamburgers will be among the most popular items on the grill today since they're easy to make, economical and delicious.
But did you know they also can be a great source of many nutrients? And did you know you can make a hearty burger without many of the residual calories and fat?
If you can make a trip to the fireworks store, then you can make a list of ingredients to help you build a bigger burger that's better for you.
Part of what makes burgers fitting for Independence Day is the independent spirit of burger-making. All you need to start a burger is beef and bun. After that, choose condiments, raw vegetables, cheese, onions (raw or grilled), grilled pineapple slices, hot peppers, relishes, salsas, pickles, avocado slices, and crisp bacon slices.
Let's compare two traditional burgers, one much lower in calories and fat, higher in dietary fiber and packed with wonderful fresh flavor and the other much higher in calories and fat and lower in dietary fiber.
Let's start with the beef: Most burgers start with meat that's 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat. With that juicy, delicious piece of ground beef you also get 280 calories and 22 grams of fat. Opt for a 96 percent lean 4-ounce (raw) portion, and it drops to 140 calories and 4 grams of fat.
Use a whole wheat bun instead of white bread and you've significantly increased the dietary fiber.
But let's be honest, there will be a loss of residual fat that flavors the burger. So, how do we get bigger and better for you without losing flavor? In my family, we took 4 ounces of raw very lean hamburger and form it into two thin patties.
Then we added a half-inch thick onion slice on one of the patties and then place the other patty on top.
Pinch the edges together all the way around the patty.
Cook on the grill or in a skillet until brown on the bottom side and then turn to cook the other side.
When the burger is nearly cooked through, top with cheese. If any of the onion peeks through the cooked meat it will be covered when topped with the cheese. The burger is twice as thick, more flavorful and juicier from the cooked onion.
This hearkens to the Great Depression when Oklahoma diners began stretching beef with thin-sliced onions and created what we now call the fried-onion burger.
Heat that whole wheat bun, spread with mustard or fat-free mayonnaise and stack your burger high with the onion-harboring meat and plenty of ripe tomatoes slices, and leafy green lettuce.
My favorite slaw to go with a burger is a simple Three Color Cabbage Slaw. This recipe is quick to fix, has a nice bite and just a slight bit of sweetness from the seasoned rice vinegar.
The lower calorie, lower fat and higher dietary fiber hamburger and slaw contain approximately 538 calories, 17.3 grams fat and 8.8 grams dietary fiber. The higher calorie, higher fat and lower dietary fiber hamburger served with fries (made from a peeled 6 ounce potato fried in 1 tablespoon oil) contains approximately 971 calories, 58.7 grams fat and 3.2 grams dietary fat.
For an all-America dessert that won't stretch your waistline, mix fresh strawberries and blueberries topped and top with fat-free vanilla yogurt.
IF YOU GO
Healthy cooking classes
Becky will teach the following upcoming Healthy Cooking Classes:
The Bigger Better For You Burger
Ingredients provided by Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond.
Makes four burgers
1 pound 96-percent lean beef
4 slices 2-percent cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons mustard, fat-free mayonnaise or barbecue sauce
1-2 ripe tomatoes cut in thick slices
1 large onion, cut in half-inch slices
1 head green leaf lettuce, pulled apart
4 whole wheat buns
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional add-ons: pickles, jalapenos, grilled pineapple slices, avocado slices, relish.
Roll beef into 2-ounce balls and flatten. Place an onion slice on one of the patties and cover with another. Pinch the edges together all the way around the patty. Add salt and pepper or your favorite sugar-free, low-sodium rub.
Heat a grill or skillet to medium high temperature. Cook on the grill or in a skillet until brown on the bottom side, then flip and repeat, 6 to 8 minutes per side.
As the patties near completion, top with 2-percent cheese. Once cheese is melted, remove patties to a platter to finish.
Heat buns briefly over hot grill or on heated, ungreased skillet for 1 to 2 minutes.
Top heated buns with patties and stack with vegetables and condiments.
Three-Color Cabbage Slaw
This recipe makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼th teaspoon black pepper
5 cups three color cole slaw mix (green cabbage, carrots and red cabbage)
Combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix.
Put cole slaw mix in a large serving bowl.
Add vinegar mixture and toss to coat evenly.
Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information: Each serving contains approximately 57 calories and 3.5 grams fat
Variations: Plain grated cabbage or any variation of cole slaw mix can be used instead of the three color slaw mix. Mustard, curry powder or celery seed can be added for a stronger and more distinctive slaw.
Source: Becky Varner