Cheeseburger Day?! We're in!

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Teen girl eating a burgerThe cheeseburger is an all American favorite — the savory flavor, the juiciness, the tenderness, the melted cheesiness — yum!

Although the traditional cheeseburger is packed with flavor, it’s also packed with calories, sodium and saturated fat. Not too heart healthy! But don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of delicious cheeseburger alternatives so that you can enjoy the tasty holiday treat without any guilt.

Healthier meats

The traditional cheeseburger is made with ground beef usually ranging from 20 percent fat or more. The main reason why ground beef with higher percentages of fat is preferred when making cheeseburgers is because the fat melts during the cooking process, creating a juicier burger. However, you can still achieve a delicious and juicy flavor with leaner ground meats.

Check out CHOP’s Heart Healthy Food Guide to find out which ground meats are best for your health!

Tricks to make lean meats juicy:

  • Add raw, sautéed, or grilled veggies in or on top of the cheeseburger. Not only do vegetables provide essential nutrients for your health, but they also can lend a substantial amount of moisture and flavor to a cheeseburger. The following vegetables are the perfect addition to your cheeseburger: tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, onion, pepper, pureed carrots and garlic.
  • Add raw egg to your burger patty as a binder. Egg can provide your burger with multiple different benefits, such as moisture, richness, flavor, tenderness, and high-quality protein.
  • Generously season your burger for delicious juicy flavor with dry ingredients, such as garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper.
  • Keep in mind that leaner meats have much less fat than the traditional burger patty; therefore, they require a different cooking process. Instead of grilling at a high heat, the leaner meats should be grilled at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.

Meat substitutions

  • A cheeseburger doesn’t have to be made with meat to be delicious. Substitute flavorful meat alternatives such as black bean, cauliflower, chickpea, quinoa, or sweet potato. Meat alternatives can lend a rich juicy flavor without all of the unhealthy fats, sodium, and calories.

Skip the cheese

  • Even though it’s cheeseburger day, that doesn’t mean you can’t skip the cheese! Cheese is rich and adds a delicious silkiness to the cheeseburger, but it also lends a significant amount of calories and fat. Other ingredients can be used in replacement of cheese such as avocado, tomato, sweet onion, mashed sweet potato, or a sunny-side-up egg.

Skip the bun

  • Of course we love the fluffy white bread that comes with the traditional cheeseburger, but there are tons of other delicious ways to create a sandwich.
    • Portabella mushrooms can make perfect vessels for your burger. Simply cut out the stem, then use the large mushroom tops in replacement of the bun.
    • Large iceberg lettuce leaves are an excellent low carbohydrate and low calorie option to replace the bun.
    • Large tomatoes can be sliced in half lengthwise and used as a juicy burger bun.
    • Healthier bread options such as wheat pita or wheat bread are also great for burger buns.

Visit the Clinical Nutrition Resources page for more information on how to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle.