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Better-For-You Burgers

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 10:35 AM EDT

It’s hard to beat a burger grilled to perfection in your own back yard, and it can be good for you, too. The secret lies in your choice of meat.

There’s a trend to use ground turkey or salmon for healthier burgers but let’s face it — real burgers are made of beef. Fortunately, it’s quite realistic to make a beef burger that will be appreciated by your taste buds and your arteries.

Avoiding Ground Beef Pitfalls

Dr. John La Puma, who also is a classically trained chef in addition to being a medical doctor, gave me these tips:

• In a regular supermarket, ground beef might come from a variety of cuts, including those that don’t make the grade to be sold any other way. Such a mixture usually comes from a meat processor rather than being ground behind the meat counter, and may contain chemical additives to kill bacteria. Ask the butcher if the hamburger is ground on the premises and if it is, consider lean ground beef an acceptable option.

• Better yet, buy some chuck steak, ask for visible fat to be trimmed off, and have it ground. To grind at home, cut it into chunks and use the pulse feature on a large food processor.

Grass-fed chuck steak is the healthiest choice, and organic chuck is next best.

Lean Meat Grilling Techniques

Considering that about 10 percent to 15 percent of ground chuck is fat, it isn’t the leanest burger meat but, according to La Puma, it’s the leanest cut that still will give you a tasty, satisfying burger. To arrive at that conclusion, he tested many different cuts.

Lean meat, especially if it is grass fed, can be a bit tricky to prepare. To maintain tenderness, it needs to be handled gently when being mixed with spices or shaped into patties. Make sure the grill is hot before the meat hits its surface and then, don’t let it sizzle for too long because it easily can overcook and become dry.

Once cooked, La Puma recommends toppings that add moisture such as avocado, tomato, and lettuce. You can get more topping ideas here.

A chuck-steak burger contains less saturated fat than a regular one and, if it is grass fed, provides beneficial omega-3 fat (the type found in fish). Either way, it can be just as enjoyable as its artery-clogging cousin, minus the guilt factor.

© HealthDay

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 10:35 AM
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