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Five Secrets to a Healthier Burger

Burgers sometimes get a bad rap for being deemed ‘unhealthy’ (and granted, sometimes they do sit in the indulgence camp). However, are all burgers the same? Registered Nutritionist, Regina Wypych peels back the layers and shares her tips on how to make a healthier, well-balanced burger.

Do you think burgers are an unhealthy dinner option? Well...it’s all about what goes into a burger and what you may leave out that determines the healthiness of it. Undoubtedly, a fast-food, upsized combo that includes fries, a fizzy drink, and dessert cannot be categorised as a ‘healthy meal choice’, however, a burger made at home, with a few simple swaps, can, in fact, be a relatively well-balanced meal.

So, what does a well-balanced meal look like? It has a few key components, such as it…

🗸 provides carbohydrates – burger bun

🗸 provides protein – meat patty

🗸 provides vegetables – lettuce, onion, tomato or anything that tickles your fancy

🗸 provides some healthy fat or dairy products – cheese or avocado

An even healthier burger might include extra vegetables, more fibre, less saturated fat and more healthy fats, less overall energy (calories) and healthier side dishes (if any). The gratification from cooking your own burgers is you know exactly what goes into them, and we’ve got five simple ideas to help bump up the health rating of your burger without impacting on taste, texture or flavour.

1. The Bread

Ideally, swap out the white bread bun for a wholemeal or wholegrain one. This will provide more dietary fibre; fibre is important in the diet long term to help maintain good gut health. In reality, it can sometimes be hard to find wholemeal/wholegrain burger buns, so at least opt for the ones with sesame seeds on top for a sprinkle of fibre or search for wholemeal/wholegrain bread rolls. If you’re wanting to have less carbohydrates in your diet, leave off the top bun, or go bun-less with a big lettuce cup to hold the fillings intact.

2. The Meat

Look out for Quality Mark when purchasing beef or lamb mince, or packs labelled premium or lean; these will contain more meat and less fat. There’s no need to have two beef patties per burger, one good-sized patty will provide plenty of protein for an adult. 500g of mince should create at least 5-6 good-sized patties. Frying your burger patties in olive oil (or a plant-derived oil that can withstand high heat) is a healthier option than frying in butter. You should also try and avoid letting your patties touch the direct flame if barbequing – a well-positioned solid hot plate should do the trick.

3. The Vege

Include plenty of fresh or cooked vegetables, whether it's mushrooms, gherkins, tomatoes, beetroot, lettuce, onion, coleslaw - go with whatever you have on hand that takes your fancy. You can also bulk out the burger patties with vegetables as we’ve done in our Vege-packed lamb sliders.

4. The Sides

You don’t necessarily need sides with homemade burgers. A big burger that you can barely get your mouth around, laden with a tasty patty, loads of vege, with a juicy sauce dripping down your arm as you eat, is a meal in itself. However, if you feel the need for a side consider a green salad, coleslaw or cocktail tomatoes. If it’s fries you really want, go for a small portion of homemade kūmara or potato wedges (skin on) baked in the oven with a bit of olive oil.

5. The Extras

There’s nothing worse than a dry burger. To combat this try including some healthier spreads such as, avocado, a light touch of mayonnaise, hummus, homemade salsa, pesto, relish or mustard. If you really enjoy your tomato or BBQ sauce, a healthier choice would be the salt and/or sugar-reduced ones, or simply use a little less.

So there you have it, five simple ways to boost the healthiness of your burger. It’s up to you now – go forth and create the ultimate health(ier) burger. We’d love to see your creation – snap a photo to share on Instagram with the hashtag #burgerthursday.

Posted by Regina Wypych

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