Now that summer is almost here, it's time to fire up the grill. For many, a cookout isn't complete without a juicy, delicious hamburger. Even those trying to follow a healthier, natural diet can enjoy this classic summer favorite by using the right ingredients.
Mitzi Dulan, a nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert and team sports nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals, understands the importance of building a better burger using leaner, healthier ingredients that benefit the body.
"Lean beef is an integral part of a wholesome burger as it provides essential nutrients and protein to keep you trim and energized," Dulan said. "In addition to choosing nutritious ingredients, exercise portion control and practice moderation to create an even healthier burger."
Dulan recommends considering these tips for building a better burger:
* Simple substitutions, such as using lean ground beef, can create a protein-packed burger that is low-fat and has fewer calories. Consider using natural brands, such as Laura's Lean Beef, to kick start a delicious, healthy burger.
* Keep in mind that lean beef cooks in 1/3 less time than regular beef since it has less fat. So, adjust the cooking time to match your method of grilling. To make the grilling process as healthy as possible, substitute natural charcoal. Products such as Big Green Egg Organic Lump Charcoal, use organic hardwoods and burn more efficiently without harsh chemicals or odors.
* Try new, healthier toppings that add a unique twist of flavor to your burger. Instead of ketchup, which can be loaded with excess sugar and sodium, consider fresh salsa. Replace mayonnaise with sliced avocado, which is a creamy, heart-healthy alternative.
* Use whole grain buns in place of white buns. Whole grains are absorbed slower by the body, meaning they do not raise sugar levels as quickly and keep you feeling full longer. This reduces the urge to eat larger portions or snack after a meal.
For more tips, recipes and to enter Laura's Lean Beef's Summer Grilling Sweepstakes, visit www.facebook.com/laurasleanbeef starting May 27, 2013.
Laura's Lean Beef Stuffed Cheeseburgers
Prep time: About 10 minutes, cooking time: 5-7 minutes, Serves: 4
1 pound Laura's Lean Beef 96% Lean Ground Sirloin
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 ounces reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 4 even 1/2-ounce pieces
4 slices reduced-calorie oatmeal bread
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 lettuce leaves
1. Mix beef with onion and parsley. Divide beef into 4 equal portions. Divide each individual portion in half so you have 8 equal portions.
2. Flatten 4 portions into rounds. Place a 1/2-ounce piece of cheese on top of each round. Flatten the remaining 4 portions of beef into rounds, place on top of cheese then seal edges of rounds together, sealing cheese in.
3. Grill (covered with grill lid) at 400-450 degrees F about 5-7 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness.
4. To serve, place each burger on top of one slice of reduced calorie (45 calories per slice) bread. Top each burger with lettuce and sliced tomatoes and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information per Serving:
(1 cheeseburger with tomatoes and lettuce on 1 slice reduced calorie bread). Calories 244; Calories from Fat 74 (30% from Fat); Fat 8g; Saturated Fat 4g; Cholesterol 69mg; Sodium 258mg; Carbohydrates 13g; Fiber 1g; Protein 30g; Vitamin A 14% ; Vitamin C 17%; Calcium 14%; Iron 21%.