Tuesday, May 19, 2015

America & Burgers

With  Memorial Day and summer on the horizon, grills everywhere will come to life and there is nothing more American than burgers. In fact I googled American food and this was one of the first images that popped up...

For this blog, I wanted to talk about one of America’s favorite thing to grill, burgers. No, I am not going to talk about who has a better burger McDonald’s or Wendy’s, but rather the type of burger; beef, turkey, veggie, etc.

Type of burgers
  • Beef: Red meat gets a bad rap for being fatty, which isn't undeserved in most cases, however you can get leaner varieties if you are really craving some red meat.  The most common type of ground beef used for burgers is 80/20, meaning 80% lean meat and 20% fat (by weight, not calories).  However, you can purchase leaner options such as 90/10 to make your burger a little healthier.
  • Turkey: Yes, turkey is leaner than beef, meaning is it lower in calories and fat. However, if you are not paying attention to the type of ground turkey you are purchasing, this may not always be the case.  Often ground turkey contains more of the darker meat and skin, which bumps up the fat content, so aim for the leaner variety. 
  • Veggie: These are almost always lower in calories, fat and protein compared to their meat counterparts, and higher fiber. (Side note: Americans get plenty of protein so don’t use this as an excuse to not eat veggie burgers) Also, ones purchased from the store, can be high in sodium and have a long list of ingredients that I cannot pronounce. If you want to avoid that (and are ambitious), try making your own. 

Now that you have the 411 on some of the types of burgers, let’s look at what you are putting on your masterpiece.
  • Bun/Bread: Of course what type of burger you get may be completed negated when you use doughnuts instead of a bun…

My inner dietitian wants me to tell you to opt for a whole wheat or whole grain bun. Surprise, surprise right? If you really just want to lighten up your burger, you can either skip the bun entirely or go naked and wrap your burger in a big piece of lettuce. (Note: I did not make that up, it is a real thing.)
  • Cheese: Who doesn't love cheese?!? However, cheese does provide a good bit of calories, so you don’t want to get to carried away with it. 
Tip: One thing you could try is using sliced avocado instead. The creaminess of the avocado mimics that of cheese; Just a thought.
  • Sauces: The healthfulness of sauces is all over the place. Condiments such as mustard, ketchup, and hot sauce are fairly harmless, but then you have mayo and aiolis that can sneak in  more calories than you realize. Simple rule of thumb, your creamier sauces will have more calories so don't go to crazy with them.
  • Vegetables: Load up on these given that they are not fried.
  • More meat/protein: This part is where a lot of people really get tripped up. Yes this includes your beloved bacon, but I have also seen burgers with a fried egg, BBQ pork, chili, etc, on them as well. Not really sure what to say about this as a vegetarian other than additional meat/protein is going to punch in more calories so make sure it’s worth it (tastes good and is your cheat day).

When I say peanut butter, what do you think of?

I would hope that you would think of jelly, if not you are un-American. Anyways, when I say burgers you probably think of fries; am I right? I mean who honestly wants to eat salad with a burger?!?!  Not me, and I am even a Dietitian AND a vegetarian, which is practically a rabbit right ?!? Now, I don’t care if you call them French fries or Freedom fries…

but fries in general are not the healthiest for you, yes, even if they are sweet potato fries. It’s not that regular potatoes, or sweet potatoes for that matter, are bad for you. To make fries, they are cut up and fried in very hot oil or fat. Don’t get me wrong, French/freedom fries are delicious, but not something you should probably eat every day. Maybe try grilling some veggies or just be like Beyonce and go for the watermelon...

Breaking it down
At the end of the day, no matter what type of burger you chose, you are still eating a burger. Just because a veggie burger has the word veggie in its name does not automatically make it healthier. If you are watching your calories a little more closely, it might be a good idea to switch to a turkey burger. Don't like turkey burgers? That's ok, you can have your beef, just don't eat them everyday. Burgers aren't necessarily “bad” for you, but be mindful of both what you put on it and what you have with it.

My nutrition mantra is everything in moderation. Well I am off to go find some freedom to put on my burger...

Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


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