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Old 10-01-2010, 11:26 AM   #1  
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Default Tips for a calorie conscious/healthy burger?

For the past week or so, I've REALLY wanted a bacon cheeseburger.

I'm not craving a burger from any particular place, though. I've saved up calories before to have a burger and fries from 5 Guys (YUM!) but I don't want to do that in this case. I don't think this is a craving I want to splurge on, just a burger I want to make at home that will fit in my normal calorie range - I aim for a daily average of 1400, but my high cal day can go up to 1700.

So . . . how do you guys do burgers? I guess I'm asking specifically about the meat and bread portion. Any tips there? I cook only for myself, and I don't want burgers often (only the second time in 7 months, actually) so I would love not to have to buy an entire package of WW buns, but I will if I need to. I'm sure they'll freeze!

Oh, also, I'd rather have beef, and not a veggie patty. I rarely eat red meat, so I'd rather use that if I'm going for the full burger experience.

Thanks!
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:58 AM   #2  
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Well I was going to suggest ground turkey or chicken but nevermind! lol.

I would buy something like 93% lean ground beef and I'd just add some ranch seasoning to it (yum ranch burgers).

I personally use wheat sandwich thins for buns We put avocado on the burgers instead of mayo also

So I have my sandwhich thins, avocado, ketchup, meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a slice of cheese (I can't help it love cheese).

We don't do burgers often but when we do they are FANTASTIC!
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:43 PM   #3  
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Hmmm, I've never made this, but off the top of my head...these are the lowest calorie options that I have in my kitchen that could make a "burger" of sorts.

- Bun: I've always been a weirdo and don't like burger buns anyways, so I prefer bread. I have 35 cal/slice bread so 70 cals for the bun. Or there are those 100 cal sandwich thins. Or you could have an open face burger with either one slice of bread or sandwich thin. OR, I've seen people grill portobella mushrooms and use them as "buns."

- Patty: Very lean ground beef. Ground turkey. Game meat (venison burger, buffalo burger). Veggie burger....All are relatively low-cal options. Seasoned correctly, I prefer turkey burgers over beef burgers.

- Veggies: Add whatever...tomato, onion, lettuce, even pickles aren't going to add much, calorie-wise.

- Cheese: I personally don't mind the 30 cal/slice fat free "cheese" slices. But there are certainly other options if you want to spend some more calories. Or eliminate it completely.

- Bacon: I think turkey bacon is only like 25 cal/slice.

- Condiments: There are some sugar free/fat free/light options of bbq sauce, ketchup, etc. I like a nice flavorful mustard or horse raddish.

So if I were to make a burger, this is what it would be:

- 2 slices 35-cal bread = 70 cal
- 4oz ground turkey = 200 cal (4oz of 97% lean ground beef has about 150 cal)
- tomato, onion, lettuce = about 20 cal
- cheese = 30 cal
- 2 slices of turkey bacon = 50 cal
- mustard = 10 cal
TOTAL: 380 cal

Maybe make some cucumber salad and 100 cal worth of sweet potato fries. It would take a big chunk of your daily calories, but if you ate somewhat light for the rest of the day, I think it would be a meal that felt rather splurge-ish while being guilt free
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:54 PM   #4  
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I'd agree that if the bun isn't important to you, get a sandwich thin - they're probably the lowest calorie bun-sub out there (other than straight up very light bread). BUT if having something bun like is important to you, both Trader Joes and Target (the ones with grocery stores) sell par-baked french rolls that are 150 calories. They're meant to be frozen and heated in the oven as needed. We keep a bag in the freezer, and when we want a bun, we use one of those...just take out what we need and bake. For me, the bun is what elevates me from "normal meal" (we eat burgers fairly often) to "special treat"...well worth it for the extra 50 or so calories you'll spend.

On the patty itself - ground beef that is lean CAN get dry, but that's preventable. Add some very finely minced or grated vegetables (onion is great, I've been known to add a bit of zucchini and carrot but I'm weird). The vegetables steam during cooking, keeping the meat moist. You can also add a tsp or so of olive oil...yes, it seems odd to buy lower fat meat and then add olive oil, but you're replacing the saturated fat with monounsaturated fat, which improves the health profile a little bit, and you're still not approaching the calories you get by going with a higher fat beef. I buy the leanest beef I can and then doctor it so it won't get dry.

I'd consider buying REALLY good cheese. Mostly because there's so much flavor, you can use a little bit less. Unless you're craving that melty-American-cheese taste, in which case, go with a lowfat slice of that. My favorite thing on a burger, particularly one with bacon, is smoked mozzarella. It's slightly lower-cal than most cheeses, the smoke compliments the grilled flavor and the bacon, and it gets lovely-melty...plus it takes very little to get the flavor and get the burger tasting cheesy and good.

Bacon - precooked is easiest, not any real calorie savings over cooked, but convenient.

My favorite burger topping ever is caramelized onions...just take an onion, slice, and cook over fairly low heat until they are dark golden and sweet. Yum. Add that on while you're melting the cheese, and you get amazing flavor with a fairly low calorie impact. Then pile on the veggies you like best.
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:38 PM   #5  
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I also rarely have red meat. But I have made one out of ground chuck. I use lemon pepper and other favorite spices. Then I placed it on paper towels for a few minutes after grilling it. I noticed that hamburger buns have no more calories than 2 slices of white bread. Also I had it for lunch that way I could take a walk or exercise after so I feel better about it. And that night I have a light dinner.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:00 PM   #6  
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I very much agree with the good cheese thing. I am a fan of spicy, so some colby with jalapenos in it is always good if you do like spicy. Being a bit of a Mexican food lover, I would also suggest perhaps just a bit of salsa mixed in with the burger meat if you use the 93 stuff. A very thing slice of avacado would be heavenly with the spicy if you go spicy. The bake yourself roll is also a good idea. Another option if you want sort of a bread feeling, but dont so much want the bread, is maybe a low calorie high fiber wrap instead of the bread? I have never tried this, but now that I think of it, it might not be a bad thing. I might have to give it a shot sometime.
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:35 PM   #7  
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

I went shopping today, and am planning on making the burger tomorrow. Football and a hambuger, what could be better?

Mandalinn - Between this and the other cooking posts I've seen from you, I kind of want to hire you to be my personal chef. I cook, sure, but you really have a knack for making things seem creative, easy, tasty, and healthy. I've loved caramelized onions when I've had them at restaurants in things, but never tried to make them before. Tomorrow's the day.

No time for a trip to TJ's and no Target grocery close by, but I think the sandwich round will be fine.

I'm going to use feta - it's got a nice strong flavor that I'll notice. Nothing worse than spending calories on cheese and not tasting it! I've thought about trying to stuff the burger itself with feta and some sun-dried tomatoes - any thoughts on that?

I'll let you know how "Burger Expo 2010" goes tomorrow.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:03 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JenMusic View Post
Mandalinn - Between this and the other cooking posts I've seen from you, I kind of want to hire you to be my personal chef.
Me too - raises hand. I've got the ingredients for the baked falafel on my shopping list! Post #17 here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JenMusic View Post
No time for a trip to TJ's and no Target grocery close by, but I think the sandwich round will be fine.
I also like to use the WW sandwich rounds. Just enough bread for me!


Quote:
Originally Posted by JenMusic View Post
I'm going to use feta - it's got a nice strong flavor that I'll notice. Nothing worse than spending calories on cheese and not tasting it! I've thought about trying to stuff the burger itself with feta and some sun-dried tomatoes - any thoughts on that?

I'll let you know how "Burger Expo 2010" goes tomorrow.
Mmmm - sounds really good.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:55 AM   #9  
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Whitewheat (by Nature's Own) hamburger buns only have 100 calories and 5 g of fiber!

Last edited by Bac0s; 10-02-2010 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:00 PM   #10  
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DELISH! The Saturday night burger experiment was a huge success. The footballl . . . well, let's just say that, since I'm a UF alum and Gator fan, I'm pretty bummed right now.

Anyway, here are the counts:
sandwich round - 100 cals
5.8 oz 93% lean beef - 247 cals
reduced fat feta - 60 cals
bacon - 70 cals
mushroom - 20 cals
onion - 65 cals
oil - 40 cals
Total - 600 cals

This was a BIG burger. If I had it to do over, I would have made a regular 4 oz. patty. I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I knew I had the room in my calories, but really it was too much burger.

The carmelized onions really made the burger (thanks again, Mandalinn!). They took time (almost an hour) but not a lot of effort and were SO flavorful. Toward the end of cooking I gave them a little shot of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and they were so yummy.

In fact, they were so good with the feta, next time I wouldn't use the bacon with this combo. The smokiness of the bacon was good, but got lost with the onions and the feta. I think I would save bacon for use with just sharp cheddar.

OK, there's my report. Happy cooking!
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:11 AM   #11  
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I make a jalapeño and blue cheese burger that is so good. Diced jalapeño in seasoned very lean ground beef. Cook and top with low fat crumbled blue cheese. I like using sandwich rounds that I toast up nice and crispy. Sometimes I will add one slice of crumbled bacon.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:18 PM   #12  
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Glad the caramelized onions worked out! They do take time, but they just elevate a burger to an entirely different level of awesome, in my opinion.
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