Burgers are pretty high on the list of classic summer foods. Though typically considered a fat and calorie bomb, they’re surprisingly easy to lighten up while enhancing the nutritional value through healthy swaps. Win-win situation.
Start with the meat
To get the classic beef taste but cut back a little on calories and saturated fat, go for a higher percentage of lean beef or do half-and-half with 95% lean and whatever you would normally use. Another great option is bison, a delicious, leaner alternative if you want to try something different.
If you’re not into beef, some other great options are turkey, chicken, ostrich, or even lamb (great mixed with lean beef to keep calories and saturated fat in check). You can also experiment with bean or lentil burgers and play around using cooked sweet potato, beets, or even cooked quinoa or brown rice in the mixture.
Pile your favorites high. Lettuce and tomato may be traditional burger toppings, but why not try arugula, microgreens, sautéed mushrooms or a mix of roasted peppers, zucchini, and eggplant? A few slices of avocado (technically a fruit, but so are tomatoes, so hey) are also delicious as a burger topping.
Salad is a no-brainer side dish, but you could also pair some steamed broccoli or grilled asparagus for a nutrient-rich but lower-calorie option.
Pick a carb
To keep the meal balanced, choose between a bun and fries, not both. Also keep in mind that corn and beans are also very high in carbs, even if they are the slow-digesting complex carbs. Make room by picking the item you’re most excited about. If the burger isn’t the same without the bun for you, have veggies on the side, or if you’re having a bean-based veggie burger, try it over salad. You could also do something like a lamb burger with a side of chickpeas and Greek salad. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
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