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So GoodOct/Nov 2013 Issue

Better Burgers

Sizzling patties you’ll flip over

A good burger is comfort food any time of the year. Problem is, most restaurant versions of this great American sandwich are sumo-sized nutritional disasters—and it can be an effort to find allergy-friendly options. A better solution is to rustle up your own patties.

The true beauty of DIY burgers is that you can make use of a wide variety of meats (or beans!) and toppings to turn out truly delicious and satisfying meals that fit into your healthy gluten-free or allergy-friendly diet.

Admittedly, beefless burgers have a reputation for being bland. But if you infuse them with the right seasonings and layer on bold flavors, as we have in these recipes, you won’t be left wondering, “Where’s the beef?”

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Mediterranean Pork Burgers with Gremolata

MAKES 4 BURGERS

The peppery punch of arugula gremolata (an uncooked green sauce) brightens and elevates what are already highly flavorful burgers. If you’re not a fan of olives, form one or more patties without them and then stir olives into the remaining meat. If tolerated, diced feta cheese is a good mix-in.

1 pound lean ground pork
½ cup finely chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
½ cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
⅓ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno, optional
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 gluten-free buns, optional Gremolata
½ cup packed arugula, finely chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons hemp seeds, optional
1 teaspoon lemon zest
-Juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for pan

1. In a large bowl, gently mix together the pork, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olives, jalapeno, shallot and black pepper. Form into 4 equal-size patties.

2. To make gremolata, combine arugula, parsley, hemp seeds (if using), lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a separate bowl. Stir in olive oil. Set aside.

3. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Place patties in the pan. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Flip and cook 5 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.

4. Serve burgers on buns (if using), topped with gremolata.

Each burger contains 427 calories, 36g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 81mg cholesterol, 485mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g sugars, 20g protein, 2 Est GL.

Burger TIP To make certain that meat burgers are cooked thoroughly enough to eat safely, use an instant-read meat thermometer and aim for an internal temperature of 160°F for ground red meat, 165°F for ground poultry.

Photos by Matthew Kadey

Photos by Matthew Kadey

Turkey Burger with Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

Turkey Burgers with Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

MAKES 4 BURGERS

If you don’t want to cook up a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, this dressed-up turkey burger won’t disappoint. The smoky chipotle sauce adds a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet raspberry jam. Pickled cucumbers help tone down any lingering heat from the chipotles. Try to purchase ground turkey breast rather than ground turkey—the former is made only with white meat, making it much lower in calories and fat.

Pickled Cucumbers
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt, divided

Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce

⅓ cup raspberry jam
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 teaspoon gluten-free minced chipotle chili, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon lemon zest
-Juice of ½ lemon
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
8 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
⅓ cup gluten-free barbecue sauce
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper\
-Oil, for pan
4 gluten-free buns, optional

1. To make pickled cucumbers, combine cucumber slices, rice vinegar, sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2. To make raspberry-chipotle sauce, stir together raspberry jam, shallot, 1 garlic clove, chipotle chile, thyme, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. If mixture thickens too much, stir in some additional jam. Cover and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, gently mix together turkey breast, spinach, barbecue sauce, remaining garlic, cumin, remaining salt and black pepper. Form into 4 equal-size patties.

4. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Place patties in the pan. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Then flip and cook 5 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.

5. Serve burgers on buns (if using), topped with pickled cucumbers and raspberry-chipotle sauce.

Each burger contains 280 calories, 2g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 55mg cholesterol, 821mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g sugars, 29g protein, 22 Est GL.

Burger TIP Use a kitchen scale to make sure each burger is of equal weight so they cook in the same amount of time. Ideally, patties should be no more than 1-inch thick.


Photos by Matthew Kadey

Photos by Matthew Kadey

Adzuki Bean Rice Burger with Pineapple Salsa

Adzuki Bean Rice Burgers with Pineapple Salsa

MAKES 4 BURGERS

Eating beans never tasted so good. Small, russet-colored adzuki beans have a sweet, nutty flavor that works marvelously in veggie burgers. Salsa gives these burgers a pleasant creamy contrast. The nutritional benefits of bean and rice-based burgers are numerous, including significant amounts of dietary fiber that make each patty more filling.

3 cups cooked or canned adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup shredded carrot
⅓ cup ground flaxseed\
-Oil, for pan

Pineapple Salsa
1 small avocado, diced
1 cup diced pineapple
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 scallion (green onion), thinly sliced
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
-Juice of ½ lime
4 gluten-free buns, optional

1. Place adzuki beans, tomato paste, garlic, mustard, cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper in a food processor container and blend into a grainy paste. Stir in rice, carrots and flaxseed until well combined. (Alternatively, mash beans in a large bowl using a potato masher and stir in ingredients until combined.) Form mixture into 4 equal-size patties.

2. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and warm over medium heat. Place patties in the pan. Cover and cook for 4 minutes per side or until they are heated through and have a crispy crust on top.

3. To make pineapple salsa, toss together avocado, pineapple, red bell pepper, scallion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, lime juice and remaining salt in a large bowl.

4. Serve bean burgers on buns (if using), topped with pineapple salsa.

Each burger contains 446 calories, 11g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 372mg sodium, 73g carbohydrate, 22g fiber, 8g sugars, 18g protein, 28 Est GL.

Burger TIP Recipes for veggie burgers often call for breadcrumbs to help absorb moisture and improve consistency. Get the same results with more nutrients by using ground flaxseed instead.


Chicken Fajita Burgers with Guacamole

MAKES 4 BURGERS

These burgers have all of your favorite fajita flavors in a hand-held package. Mixing in salsa helps prevent lean ground chicken from drying out during cooking, while the guacamole adds creamy moisture. If using a bun, spread the guacamole on the bottom bun.

1 teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground chicken
⅓ cup gluten-free jarred salsa
2 teaspoons canola or grape seed oil, more for pan
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 gluten-free buns, optional

Guacamole
1 avocado
1 garlic clove, minced
-Juice of ½ lime
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 plum (Roma) tomato, seeded and chopped

1. In a small bowl, stir together oregano, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. In a large bowl, gently combine spice mixture, chicken and salsa. Form into 4 equal-size patties.

3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers and onion. Cook 4 minutes or until tender. Remove vegetables from skillet.

4. Lightly coat the pan with some additional oil. Place patties in the pan. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Then flip and cook 5 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.

5. To make guacamole, mash together avocado, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, cayenne and remaining salt. Stir in chopped tomato.

6. Serve burgers on buns (if using), topped with guacamole and cooked vegetables.

Each burger contains 300 calories, 19g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 96mg cholesterol, 455mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 3g sugars, 22g protein, 4 Est GL.

Burger TIP Press your thumb in the center of meat patties to form a ¼-inch depression. This helps the meat expand during cooking, keeping the burgers flatter.


Photo by Matthew Kadey

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Falafel Burgers with Tzatziki

MAKES 4 BURGERS

Traditional falafels are undeniably tasty but the authentic deep-fried versions are not exactly nutritional bell-ringers. This lively option contains all the cherished falafel flavors but cuts the fat. Yogurt-based tzatziki is a refreshing mate to these burgers but you can also top them with sunflower pesto, gremolata, tomato-garlic jam or guacamole.

3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
-Juice of ½ lemon
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
-Oil, for pan
4 gluten-free buns, optional Tzatziki
-Salt, to sprinkle on cucumbers
½ English cucumber, peeled
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt or dairy- free alternative
1 tablespoon chopped mint or dill
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Place chickpeas, onion, parsley, tahini, flaxseed, 2 garlic cloves, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne in a food processor bowl and blend until slightly grainy. Do not over-blend. (Mixture should not be a smooth paste.) Form into 4 equal-size patties.

2. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and warm over medium heat. Place patties in the pan. Cover and cook 4 minutes per side or until patties are golden brown on top and heated through.

3. Meanwhile, grate the cucumber into a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid from cucumber. Combine with yogurt, mint, olive oil, remaining garlic and a couple pinches of salt in a small bowl.

4. Serve burgers on buns (if using), topped with tzatziki.

Each burger contains 387 calories, 12g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 1mg cholesterol, 867mg sodium, 56g carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 6g sugars, 18g protein, 23 Est GL.

Burger TIP Chilling uncooked meat-free patties for about an hour before cooking can help them keep their form.


Photo by Matthew Kadey

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Asian Beef Burger with Tomato-Garlic Jam

Asian Beef Burger with Tomato-Garlic Jam

MAKES 4 BURGERS

Satisfying and savory with Asian flavors, this recipe proves that burgers are a blank canvas, ready to take on tastes from a variety of different cultures. Try using this recipe with ground bison (often more nutrient-dense than supermarket beef). Any extra tomato topping is delicious strewn over chicken.

Tomato-Garlic Jam
2 medium tomatoes
¼ cup sugar
-Juice of 2 limes
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 small Thai red chili pepper, minced, or ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
1 pound ground sirloin
1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
⅓ cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions (green onions), chopped
2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
-Oil, for pan
4 gluten-free buns, optional
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage or cole slaw mix

1. Peel tomatoes by slicing a small X in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds or until skin loosens. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and slip skins off when cool enough to handle. Chop tomatoes.

2. To make tomato-garlic jam, combine sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add tomatoes, red bell pepper, garlic and chili pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until mixture has reduced by about half. Stir in fish sauce (if using) and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. In a large bowl, gently mix together ground sirloin, shiitake mushrooms, cilantro, scallions, soy sauce, Chinese five spice and ginger. Form into 4 equal-size patties.

4. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Place patties in the pan. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Then flip and cook 4 to 5 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.

5. Serve burgers on buns (if using), topped with tomato-garlic jam and shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix.

Each burger contains 299 calories, 12g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 73mg cholesterol, 559mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 16g sugars, 26g protein, 13 Est GL.

Burger TIP Ground sirloin is considered the ideal cut of beef for making patties. It has just the right amount of fat for juicy burgers without a surplus of calories. If possible, get your butcher to grind it for you on the spot.

Matthew Kadey, RD (muffintinmania.com) is a dietitian and food writer. He is author of two cookbooks, The Muffin Tin Chef, and The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook.

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