For more than a year, I have barely eaten beef. While I like it, my body isn’t fond of it and I’ve found that avoiding it means that I can live with fewer bouts of my severe asthma – and less medication. It was a no-brainer to eat less of it.
That said, I have never set out to eliminate it from my diet altogether. Everything in moderation, you know? So, with summer nearing (could someone please tell Mother Nature that summer is almost here? I don’t think she got the memo for New England), I plan to enjoy a few burgers this summer. But because I rarely eat beef, I want to make it count when I do.
At the same time, I have made a commitment to losing weight and generally being healthier. It’s kind of a catch-22. I want to be healthy, but I also want to enjoy life … and the food I eat. And while I do really like turkey burgers and chicken burgers, nothing substitutes for a great beef burger when that’s really what you want. So, what’s a girl to do?
Ultimately, I come back to moderation. Cheddar Bacon Burgers are delicious, but when it comes to trying to be healthy, they aren’t the best choice. The cheddar and bacon add so much more unhealthy fat to the beef burger. After struggling with this, I decided to stick with 85% fat ground beef, which produces a juicy, flavorful burger. But I cut out both the cheese and the bacon. (I’ll still have cheese with my turkey burger though!) And for the roll, I am now skipping the bakery rolls and traditional hamburger buns in favor of the thin multigrain rolls that I eat sandwiches on for lunch. They work well and hold up to the burger while having less calories and more fiber.
But a plain burger? Even a juicy, flavorful one enhanced with salt and pepper needs something more, something to make it great. Enter the veggies.
My Super Veggie Beef Burger is like a fab salad combined with a juicy, amazing burger. The avocado (yes, it has fat, but it’s healthy fat) adds a creaminess that substitutes well for the missing cheese. Then there is crunchy red pepper, smooth baby spinach, sweet tomato slices and crunchy alfalfa sprouts (well, sort of crunchy). When you take a bite, you get this surge of flavors, wrapped in the dripping juices of the great burger. It’s amazing.
I’m not giving up my occasional beef burger … when I have one, you can bet that it will be piled with fabulous fresh veggies.
How do you like your burger?
- 1 lb 85% fat ground beef
- salt and pepper
- 4 thin deli rolls, (I used Arnold's Multigrain Sandwich Thins)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 red pepper, cut into 4 pieces and seeded
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 tomato, sliced
- alfalfa sprouts
- Preheat your grill over medium heat (or prepare your charcoals for grilling)
- Divide the ground beef into four even pieces. Salt and pepper liberally. Gently fold the salt and pepper into the beef, taking care not to handle it too much. Then, pat each piece into a 1/2-inch thick patty. Place on a plate and stick your thumb into the center of the patty, pressing down firmly (but not through).
- Grill the burgers to desired doneness, flipping once and never ever pressing down. At all. Really, I mean it.
- Once the burgers are done, place each one on a thin deli roll. Top with avocado slices, one slice of the red pepper, baby spinach leaves, tomato slices and a palmful of alfalfa sprouts. Close the roll and enjoy immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.