Comfort Food: Burger & Onion Rings

Posted on: April 30th 2017

Photo credit: Delfina Cocciardi

Now we’re getting to my favourite kind of comfort food – BURGERS! I love burgers in a pretty serious way. But I also love my health, so it was important for me to find a way to skip the McD’s, and make something that my body thank me for.

I know, I know, hamburger meal deals are easy. They’re not too expensive, and they’re convenient. I get it. However, contrary to what their advertising around the Olympics would have you believe, no high-level athlete runs solely on fast food. Making your own burgers, fries, onions rings, heck – even soda, is better for you and doesn’t take nearly as much time as you’d think.

Let’s take a look at what’s really in your Big Mac Meal:

With its two patties, the Big Mac isn’t a small burger (and it’s by no means the worst one out there even). One burger contains 540 calories, 25g protein (which for two “all-beef patties” seems pretty low), 28g fat , 46g carbs, and 970 milligrams of sodium. And that’s just the burger. Depending on the size you get, McDonald’s fries calories range from 230 to 510, with 2 to 6g protein, 11 to 24g fat, 30 to 67g carbs, and 130 to 290 milligrams of sodium. Add in your drink, and you’re adding another 140-280 calories (510-540 for a milkshake).

To put it into perspective, a moderately active 150lb person should be taking in 2000-2500 calories daily. One Big Mac Meal will easily take up 2/3 of your daily calories (and probably not keep you feeling full for too terribly long).

Make it yourself!

Not only can you save yourself a bunch of your daily calories by making them at home, you’ll likely save money (and the food is 100% tastier!)

You don’t even need to get fancy with your burger making – 1 pound of ground meat, one egg and some spices, pressed into patties and cooked for 5-6 minutes a side is all it takes. Some recipes call for additional binders like bread crumbs – I just skip it and keep my burgers low-carb.

Here are a couple of my favourite burgers to enjoy. You can put them on a pre-made, whole grain bun (usually about 100 calories), or you can pile your burger and toppings into a lettuce leaf (like 1 calorie) and wrap it up – tidy, tasty, and my fave way to enjoy burger-y goodness!

Turkey Apple Mushroom Burger (2 burgers)

Ingredients: 1 lb ground turkey breast, 5 chopped mushrooms, ½ chopped onion, ½ chopped apple, ½ tsp butter or coconut oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 egg, dash salt, pepper, garlic powder

Directions: Brown onions in skillet, add apples and mushrooms and stir-fry for an additional 4 minutes. Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Form into 2 large patties or 4 medium patties, and broil on medium heat, approx 6 minutes per side. Burgers are done when juices run clear after being pierced by a fork.

Dare to compare with the Big Mac – 367 calories; 58 g protein; 11 g carbohydrates; 9 g fat

Chickpea Burgers (4-6 burgers)

Ingredients: 1 ½ C dry chickpeas, 1 C fresh chopped parsley and/or basil (basil for sweetness, parsley for bitterness), ½ C onion, chopped, 6 cloves garlic, minced, 1 ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp turmeric, salt and pepper to taste, 1-3 tbsp tahini, EVOO or coconut oil

Directions: Rinse and strain chickpeas, then add to sauce pot. Cover with 2” water and bring to a boil. Let sit 1 hour, then drain, rinse and dry. Add parsley/basil, onion and garlic to food processor and mix until well incorporated. Add cooled chickpeas gradually, along with spices and tahini. Adjust spices if needed. Refrigerate 30 minutes-1 hour. Remove from fridge and form into 4-6 patties. Add tahini if the mixture is too dry. Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet. Fry the burgers 2-3 minutes per side and flip gently until browned on both sides. Serve with pesto.

Awesome Onion Rings from The Graceful Kitchen

Ingredients: 2 large sweet onions – cut into 1/2″ rings

Batter: 1/2 C whole wheat flour, 2 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 C milk of choice, 1/2 C beer

Coating: 2 C panko crumbs, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, 2 tsp granulated garlic, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions: Preheat your oven to 430, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together the flour and cornstarch, add the milk and milk until the texture is consistent throughout. Add the dijon mustard and beer and mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine panko, salt, garlic and paprika. Drizzle olive oil on top, and mix with your hands until evenly spread. Take a ring, dip it in the flour batter, then coat with the panko mixture, then lay it on the baking sheet. Repeat for all the rings. Bake for 25 minutes or until the rings are golden brown and crispy.

If onion rings aren’t your deal, make fries! Either use a dehydrator or bake (about 425, 10-15 minutes per side) in your oven. You can season and bake zucchini, carrots, avocado, green beans, asparagus and more! You can also make you own potato wedges or sweet potato fries (again with the oven at around 425, on an oiled baking sheet with oil and seasoning drizzled on top, bake for 10-15 minutes a side). Keep an eye on any of your homemade fries to make sure that the oil doesn’t start smoking, and that you’re getting the crispiness you want.

And for some soda free of artificial sweeteners? Grab some sparkling water and toss in lemon, lime or your favourite fruit! Fizzy and fantastic!

So, that’s my ultimate comfort food – what about you? How can we make your favourite treat a little bit better for you? Comment and let us know!

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