5 Healthy Burger Recipes for Spring 2014

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By Robert Spencer

It’s spring time, which means that the sun is finally showing its face around here. After winter, when the sky starts to clear up, I begin my yearly ritual of “finding the perfect burger recipe”. I’ve found and created a lot of recipes through the years. They haven’t all been great but I have come up with some unique ones along the way.

Every year I try to find a new recipe for the summer. Spring is my testing season. My kids love it but my wife…not so much. Which is why – for the past couple years – I’ve been coming up with healthier recipes to share with my family.

#1) The Healthier Burger

A lot of the calories come from the sauces, particularly barbecue and mayonnaise. So instead of mayo, swap it out for some plain Greek yogurt or some mashed avocado. The yogurt will give your burger that tangy flavor that mayo does.

Since sauces add to the calorie count and the flavor, swap out sauces for spices. Fresh herbs are even better. And since we’re talking about greens, you can chop up some spinach or some other leafy greens to put in the burger mixture to add to your veggie count for the day. My wife does the same with veggies in her spaghetti sauce and my kids can’t even tell the difference.

When you make your own burgers, you have to use breadcrumbs for filler and to help hold it all together. Swap out white bread-breadcrumbs for whole wheat. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous (and don’t have any nut allergies in your family), try some ground hazelnut or almond flour instead.

Since we’re talking about bread, try making your own buns with spelt flour. You can also try cutting your white flour with soy (up to 1/3 the amount), quinoa (up to a half – but these come out grainier), or barley flour.

#2) My Favorite Turkey Burger

For this one, you’ll need a couple pounds of ground turkey breast, about three garlic cloves, a small green bell pepper and a small red one (seeded and minced as best as you can), a couple jalapeno peppers (seeded and minced also), a half of an onion (minced), a couple teaspoons of cumin, and a couple teaspoons of Siracha or Tapatio.

Mix the turkey with the spices, then throw in the veggies. Add the garlic. The hot sauce will go in last. Mix it all well. Form them into about 8 patties. Throw them on an oiled skillet over medium high for about 5 minutes on each side.

When you’re serving these, I suggest topping them with some pico de gallo. Skip the mayo and opt for some guacamole instead.

#3) The German Burger

This one will require a couple pounds of ground pork, a tablespoon each of salt, caraway seeds, and pepper. It will also need a fourth of a cup of parsley and sour cream.

Throw all of the ingredients in a bowl, leaving the sour cream for last. Mix with your hands (it really does work best). Unless you don’t feel like breaking a nail, then just use a wooden spoon.

Form them into patties and fry them up on a frying pan or throw them on the grill on medium heat. Cook them at about 5 minutes on each side. The interior temp should be about 155F. Top these bad boys with some sauerkraut and some German mustard and you’re good to go.

#4) Spicy Veggie Burger

If you’ve got vegetarians in the family (or if you are one yourself), check out these chickpea veggie burgers. Mince about a cup of chickpeas, a half a cup of peppers, a jalapeno, a third of a cup of onions, and a small carrot and mix them together with some ground flaxseed (instead of the egg – which holds the patty together). Throw in a couple tablespoons of BBQ sauce, a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds and a half a cup of cooked brown rice.

Mix it all up in a skillet on medium-high. Salt and pepper it to taste. Then shape the patties and cook them on a BBQ skillet for about five minutes on each side. When they’re done, they’ll be brown and firm.

If you’re feeling froggy, throw in some minced parsley and some red pepper flakes too. That’ll really add to the flavor.

#5) Cilantro Beef Burger

I don’t know how much is in one of those grocery store bundles of cilantro, but I bought one and used the whole thing for this recipe. I also used a pound of ground beef, a fourth of a white onion, a couple eggs, a clove of garlic a half a cup of almond flour, and a fourth of a teaspoon of both salt and pepper.

Line a baking sheet with foil and set your oven to broil. Place the top rack up so that when you put the burgers on, they’ll be about two inches from the heat. Mince the cilantro, and chop up all the veggies.

All of the ingredients go in a mixing bowl, adding the veggies first, meat second, then eggs, then flour, salt, and pepper. Mix them all together, form into patties, then broil for about 8 minutes. Flip and broil for another 8 minutes (maybe less depending on your oven). Just watch them.