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Simple switches: Healthier burgers


Despite their bad press, burgers, especially homemade ones, can be healthy. Here are a few ideas to make a fast-food staple into a delicious, hearty meal everyone can enjoy...

  • Instead of a big, white bun, lower-calorie options can include slices of granary or wholegrain bread, an English muffin or simply buying smaller-sized buns. You could also try being creative and use something completely different to sandwich your burger between – how about using two Portobello mushrooms instead?
  • Instead of chips, try sweet potato chips baked in the oven with very little fat. Vegetable chips (made with parsnips or swede) are a great substitute for greasy, fatty chips – so too is a healthy salad.
  • To make it a balanced meal, include lots of salad. This could be anything from the classic fillings like lettuce, tomatoes and red onions to something a little bit different, such as grilled mushrooms, olives and peppers. If you’re trying extra hard to save on the calories, avoid full-fat cheeses and pick lower-fat versions. And, instead of fatty bacon, go for leaner cuts or try baking a few slices of prosciutto.
  • Making your own burgers is quick and easy and lets you control the portion sizes. Whatever meat you use – beef, lamb, chicken or turkey – use the leaner versions and make smaller burgers. You can also try using a tuna fish steak or how about vegetarian bean, lentil or soya burgers? Avoid adding extra fat, such as oil or cheese, to your recipe – give burgers extra flavour by adding your favourite herbs and spices, such as dill, paprika, ginger or garlic. If you like them with a bit of a kick, add a fresh chilli or two, or some chilli powder.
  • Go for tomato-based sauces and relishes – such as salsa – instead of ranch dressings and creamy mayonnaise. But, if you do fancy these, choose the lower-fat versions. Try to pick the reduced sugar and salt ketchups, too.
  • A 30ml serving of full-fat mayo will add a whopping 200Kcal and 22g fat to your burger. Switch to 2 tbsp relish and save on all the fat and 190Kcal. If only mayo will do, a 30ml serving of the low-fat variety will cut 176Kcal and 21g fat.
  • Originally published in Diabetes Balance magazine – become a Diabetes UK member and get your copy.

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