I love burgers and for that reason I have to be realistic about my "eating habits". I will NEVER give up eating burgers nor do I ever WANT to give it up! What's life worth living for if you cannot enjoy the things in life that make you happy, even if that's food? This is why I've chosen not to DIET but to change my lifestyle, including the food choices I make. I eat chocolate, drink beer, eat burgers, nibble cheese and all kinds of things associated with otherwise making one a big butt girl! But now I do it with a lot of thought and a whole lot of changes too! You CAN enjoy a burger, in sooooo many different styles, quite often in your life IF you choose to do it right. I choose to do it right and I choose NOT to give up flavor and excitement when it comes to burgers. Oddly enough I'm often inspired by the same burger places I rarely if ever frequent anymore also! Wendy's (God love them for their ability to make the most amazing, fatty, delicious styles of burgers in the fast food industry) is one of my favorites to copy but I take everything from fast food joints to local pubs and burger joints with amazing creations. The difference between their burgers and mine? Ohhhh so many differences....
- Mine are definitely less expensive
- Mine are definitely MUCH lower in fat
- Mine are definitely MUCH lower in calories
- Mine are usually created with much finer ingredients (which you'd think would make them more expensive but think about it.. it just makes it so I can use quality ingredients without paying all the overhead.. aka waiter, tips, lovely decor, drunk on the barstool, insurance for said drunk on the barstool, etc.)
- Mine can be eaten any time I want simply by walking into my kitchen and creating them
- Mine can be created with ingredients that I know EXACTLY what they contain (organic when needed, low fat or no fat ingredients instead of high fat types, less to even zero chemicals, top grade and low fat organic meats, no surprises)
Here are a few tips I have for creating a delicious burger that's better for you at home:
- Use good ingredients - while this should just be a "given" for most sometimes you don't think about something as simple as replacing their 70/30 ground beef with a 90/10 beef to literally make your burger not only very flavorful but so much less full of fat. Add to that an organic beef and organic or homemade toppings or ingredients or fat free/lower fat ingredients and you're really going to notice the difference in flavor, calories & fat
- Replace "beef" with other things... my favorite is the veggie burger. But here's the key - KNOW HOW TO COOK THESE DIFFERENT "MEATS' OR "MEAT SUPPLEMENTS!!!!!! I cooked "veggie burgers" for years, always saying "they're okay" and never truly believing they were as good as a REAL burger. I'm not one to accept meat substitutes, especially for non meat ones. It's all about texture for me and I'm sorry there are very few non-meat products out there that I personally think taste like meats they're "replacing"..... until I realized how to cook them! See my info below for HOW TO COOK VEGGIE BURGERS. Remember that just because you use a beef replacement it doesn't mean it is going to TASTE like beef. The Boca Bruschetta burger has tons of flavor but don't go into it thinking it's going to taste like beef. That's not always the idea with beef replacements! However the Boca Grilled Veggie Burger, made the right way DOES taste just like beef and I can't tell the difference! My personal desire is if I want a REAL BURGER I will use REAL organic grass fed beef 90/10 or sometimes 85/15 because a little fat is what gives it flavor. If I use a 90/10 I will cook them on the range top using coconut oil (healthy oil) to give it some moisture & always use my Worcestershire sauce to start flavoring it!
- Load up the toppings! Quit gasping and listen to these words.... a cheeseburger will not kill you, did not put on the extra 30 lbs or more on your thighs and is NOT the culprit for weight gain. Picking different cheeses (fat free feta is AMAZING on top of a burger), lower fat versions of sharp cheddars & swiss cheese amongst many other flavors, center cut, Canadian or turkey bacon instead of higher fat regular bacon & sauces that aren't loaded with fat (Hello Frank's Buffalo Sauce or Simple Hot Sauce) will make a huge difference in your final creation! Cheeseburgers from fast food joints, loaded with fat, added onto a platter of deep fried greasy fries, dripping of grease from the bun.... THAT is what added to your big butt and you cannot lie! See the TOPPINGS IDEAS below for how to create that amazing mix of flavors!
- Eat ONE burger, but load it up with goodies that are going to fill you up. Use HEALTHY sides, yes.. you CAN have "fries" but use things like the oven baked Alexia Fries in place of a deep fried or even oven baked unhealthy version. Pay attention to the sides! If you eat one burger, loaded up with a bunch of goodies, along with a single serving side dish, a healthy veggie or side and then sit for 10 minutes or so and STILL absolutely NEED another burger.... go for it. But I can just about guarantee you that you won't need that 2nd burger. When you go out or drive thru a drive thru window you often order 2 "because they're cheap" or "because they're not filling" or "because you MIGHT be hungry enough to eat them.... like you're NOT going to if it's there?" or on and on and on with excuses. So go ahead and make that 2nd burger at home, but don't put it on your plate. You can always reheat it for lunch (an amazing lunch I may add) the next day if you can't eat it for your dinner!
How to Cook A Veggie Burger - I cooked veggie burgers the wrong way for YEARS! I feared those little critters! While my mind wanted to love them, I'd buy every plausible brand and style out there only to be disappointed and walk away saying "it's not really a burger but it's 'ok'" every time! What was I doing wrong? I was thinking that because it was made of veggies it didn't need to be cooked for any long period of time. I read the directions, nuked them for a minute or less from frozen state and thought the makers had to know what they were talking about right? WRONG! Here's what I found. In order for the veggie burger to have the texture and flavor of a "real" burger you not only have to cook it super well done on a high heat but you need to add some flavorings while cooking it. My favorite thing to do is place the frozen pattie into a hot pan (you will hear the sizzle), splash it with some Worcestershire sauce & pepper (I omit the salt because of the salt content in the Worcestershire), cook it so it browns up almost on the verge of a "burn" but not quite on one side, then flip it. You may need to turn the heat down a bit at this point so you don't burn your pan. Now I top it with just a splash of steak sauce. While you don't have to cook it for a long period of time you do need to cook it on a high, hot heat and make sure it's browned up extra well. This is what takes the 'rubbery' type of chew out of the veggie burger that normally is always there. It also gives it just a hint of a "real burger" taste that comes from the Worcestershire and steak sauce.
TOPPING IDEAS - toppings make the burger. A plain cheeseburger becomes a bacon and cheddar burger with the change of one topping and the decision to use one particular cheese. Here are some excellent ideas on burger toppings that, when you pick a healthier version, can make your burger not only "over the top" delicious but keep them from being an unhealthy version of the same burger offered at your local burger joints!
Each Of These Burger Toppings can be used on VEGGIE Burgers also! Replacing a 90/10 burger with a veggie burger cuts the points in half from 4 to 2 or even 1 point depending on the type of veggie burger you use. I prefer the Boca Flame Grilled Style which comes in at 2 points.
|Buffalo Style Veggie Burger|
- Black 'n Bleu Burger - created with a fat free feta, a few drops of fat free or low fat bleu cheese dressing drizzled on top and a slice of Canadian bacon cooked up crisp or 2 pieces of turkey or center cut bacon on top. This burger was inspired by the burger offered at Wendy's (see my piece written on it) and comes out a lot lower in fat, calories and points when you make it with fat free and lower fat ingredients!
- Buffalo Style Burgers - again, the fat free feta comes to the rescue as it's melted on top and then drizzled with Franks Hot Sauce. Toast the bun (we know not to use normal buns right? Use the sandwich thin type buns or a light bun) and the toasted bun makes a world of difference in keep the ingredients all piled high!
- Veggies Galore - I love grilled onions and I can't explain the "O-Face" I get when I bite into a huge burger piled high with sauteed sweet onions. No oils are needed, just a pan and some heat as you sweat out the onion and then just brown it! If you're a mushroom lover add the shrooms! (I'm not a shroom lover at all but this is a perfect companion if you are!). Don't stop there... add a pile of lettuce and some fat free, low cal condiments (ketchup, mustard, stadium mustard, relishes, fat free mayos, chipotle mayo - light or fat free or fat free/low fat dressings drizzled on top to create a different flavor each time) Pickles can put a zest in between your bun too and the sandwich thin styles give you some crunch without being too thick!I personally love using a relish because I don't like to bite into a big pickle. Be careful with what you choose for dressings, etc. if you're trying to live chemical & preservative free because these can be loaded with tons of chemicals and preservatives.
- Spreads & Dressings - using fat free versions is the best way to get the creamy goodness and loads of flavor without the fats. I love to take a fat free mayo and add some ground chipotle powder to it, creating a fat free chipotle mayo! Dressings can turn a plain burger into a "Ranch Burger" or a "Bleu Cheese" burger. Using a fat free bleu cheese dressing gives that bleu cheese flavor and using some fat free feta with it creates the texture of a true bleu cheese topping!
- Pittsburgh Style Burgers - anyone who has ever been to Pittsburgh loves the "Burgh Style" sandwiches made famous by Primanti Brothers. They are a totally fat laden, delicious burger piled with slaw and fries. But you can recreate the same taste without the fat & calories! Simply take some shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix), sprinkle a bit of sugar over it with some salt & pepper and let it sit in a cup for a few hours if possible but at least 20 minutes or so. Bake up some Alexia Fries, toss a couple of those on your burger with a cup of the slaw and VOILA you have a Primanti style burger without the calories & fat! DELISH too! Of course the toasted bun makes a huge difference. (are you noticing a theme with TOAST the bun?)
And please feel free to comment and share ideas for trying to live and eat "clean" and losing weight by changing to a healthy lifestyle!
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*Note I am not affiliated nor endorsed by Weight Watchers® at all, in any way. I highly recommend their program and cannot say enough GOOD about it, but I also have decided that they were my "stepping stone" to making a change in my lifestyle. Any mention of Weight Watchers®, their program or their term of "points®" does not mean they have approved, seen, or endorsed anything on my blogs.
Also, if at any time Points® are mentioned it is always with the assumption that you will analyze the recipes, foods, ingredients and figure the points out specifically for your consumption of any product, as ingredients may vary by brand, size, etc. and Points® is a registered trademark of the Weight Watchers® company.