A Better Burger

Summer is here and nothing says summer more than a backyard barbecue. There’s nothing better than warm weather, hanging out with your family and friends, and most importantly, biting into a delicious burger. But nowadays why reach for your standard all ground beef burger when you can steer your way down the grocery aisles to a plethora of different burgers that can satisfy each one of your family member’s craving for a juicy burger, without compromising on flavor or your bathing-suit ready physique? Here are some of my favorites.

Where’s the beef?

All you want is a nice juicy hamburger but between shuffling your kids back and forth to summer camps, working behind a desk all day or even relaxing on a nice Saturday with your family, who has the time to assemble all those beef patties by hand? All beef burgers are a bbq must, and will satisfy your meat cravings while giving you the highest protein content of all the burger options below, which will keep you feeling full and energized. While consuming high amounts of red meats, more specifically processed red meats, may be correlated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes mellitus, red meat provides a superior amount of heme-iron compared to white meat, as well as multiple beneficial nutrients such as zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and alpha-lipoic acid. So as long as it’s unprocessed and lean, consuming a moderate amount of red meat is a healthful option. When you’re in a bind, be sure to pick up these two frozen burger options:

• Applegate Farms Organic Beef Burger: This burger only contains organic grass-fed beef so you’re getting real delicious meaty flavor. Each burger is 195 calories, 12g of fat, 85 mg of sodium and packs 21 g of protein.

• Great Range All Natural Bison Patties: Bison is uncommon ground for some people, but once you’ve had these all natural bison patties you may never go back to ground beef. Each 4 oz patty is 190 calories, 11 g of fat, 20 g of protein and only 60 mg of sodium. There are no artificial ingredients, growth hormones, stimulants or antibiotics and they only use a minimum of 90% lean beef so you know you’re getting the leanest cut out there.

Can’t Beat White Meat

Turkey and chicken burgers have become a popular option because white meats are typically considered leaner, with less calories per oz than red meat. However, this is only the case if you purchase at least 90/10 ground turkey, otherwise 90/10 ground red meat is actually leaner with less fat and fewer calories than commercially packaged “lean ground turkey”. White meat is also favored over red meat because it does not have any associated health risks, and it is a high protein source that does not cause post-meal insulin levels to rise. This is great news for individuals watching their blood sugar levels or who suffer from diabetes. With a milder flavor, white meat burgers generally have a ton of additives and artificial flavoring, so before ordering one in a restaurant, make sure to ask your waiter what’s in that burger, because it might not actually be better for you. However, when done right, these burgers can be extremely flavorful and high in protein without the extra calories and fat that red meat provides. Here's one of my favorite white meat burgers:

• Applegate Organic Turkey Burger: At only 140 calories per burger, 7 g of fat and 17 g of protein, this delicious turkey burger is also extremely low in sodium, 55 mg, and only contains organic turkey and rosemary - a perfect combination.

A Pescatarian Affair

For those who don’t dabble in red or white meat, but haven’t fully converted to a vegetarian way of life, grilling out can be a reason to stay in. When there isn’t anything that you can eat, you fill up on chips and salsa, cole slaw and those double chocolate chip fudge brownies you had your eye on as soon as you walked into the party, which will leave you wishing you had the metabolism of a 12 year old soccer player. Now, there’s no excuse, with delicious tuna burger and mahi mahi burger options, these meat alternatives aren’t just for pescatarians. Fish burgers not only are delicious and packed with flavor, but they contain omega-3s, protein and are low in saturated fats, calories and sodium. While the summer provides some of the freshest fish you can get, try seafood burger topped with avocado and lime or grilled pineapple for a truly tropical taste.

Vegetarian Delight

Listen, I love meat, but veggie burgers have captured my heart. Veggie burgers used to be something even vegetarians avoided because let’s face it, they were bland and never had the consistency of a burger. Not anymore! Veggie burger making has turned into an art form, and nutritionally speaking, can be better for you than an all beef burger when done with your health in mind. Evidence shows a predominately vegetable based diet decreases your risk for obesity and its known deathly counterparts- heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. A vegetarian burger, when done consciously with adequate amounts of protein (through lentils, beans or tofu) provides more fiber than any other burger option and promotes a thinner and healthier body weight. However, a veggie burger done wrong can actually have more fat, less fiber, more sodium and more additives and artificial flavoring that your average hamburger so beware. The number of veggie burgers on the market is astounding, but here are the best picks for your summer parties:

• Dr. Praeger’s California Burgers: These California veggie burgers are definitely nutritionally unbeatable. At 110 calories, 4.5 g of fat, 4 g of fiber and 5 g of protein in each burger it also contains 50% of your daily vitamin A as well as ample amounts of iron.

Gardein Garden Veggie Burgers: Any of the gardein vegetarian burger options are delicious. The garden veggie variety is only 110 calories and 2.5g of fat, and contain 5 g of protein and 3 g of fiber. They are perfectly seasoned and are the perfect addition to your cook out.

Beyond the Burger

The patty is just one part of the whole burger. Try to avoid heavy sauces, salty condiments, cheese and processed buns when assembling your burgers. Load up on lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and stick to just a tablespoon of mustard or low-sodium barbecue sauce. Instead of a refined-white bun, try whole-grain Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns, La Tortilla Factory whole-wheat wraps, or lettuce or collard green wraps.

So the question now is, good gosh almighty which way do you steer? There’s no need to be picky, you have the entire summer to try each and every one of these delicious burgers. Luckily, they all fill you up without filling you out. Enjoy the great weather, great food and your family and friends! 

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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