Kids of all ages love big, beefy burgers. But with more than 400 calories in a typical quarter pounder — and just as many in the large order of fries most of us like to enjoy with it — they’re often not a healthy choice.
That’s why Via Christi dietitian Sheryll Clarke, MS, RD, LD, shares this easy-to-make and healthy turkey burger alternative with the students in her SHAPEDOWN class for overweight children and their families.
Ground turkey, mixed with seasonings, bread crumbs, oatmeal and wheat germ, makes a burger that’s every bit as moist and delicious as a beef burger, but low in fat and about half the calories.
Turkey burgers do require special care while cooking, however. The burger will puff up when cooked, so you’ll want to make the patties relatively thin. And because they’re thin, they may break when turned, so gently flip them using two spatulas — one on top and one on the bottom. See a video of Chef Don Lucero preparing this recipe, on our website, to see his technique.
And instead of fries, pair your burger with a healthy side of fresh fruit or tangy slaw.
For fast and easy fruit kabobs, shop your grocer’s salad bar for a variety of cut melons, strawberries and grapes, then alternate on bamboo skewers.
For fast and tangy slaw, buy bagged chopped cabbage and toss with fat-free Thousand Island or Honey Mustard Dressing (1 tablespoon per 1 cup of slaw).
Turkey Burger Deluxe
Makes 9 patties
- 1 to 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped (or use 1 teaspoon of jarred minced garlic)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Water, approximately ½ cup
- 1-1/3 pounds ground raw turkey breast
- 3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- 3 tablespoons quick-cooking oats (not instant)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ (if not available increased oats or bread crumbs by 1 tablespoon)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent burning. Remove skillet from heat. To a large mixing bowl, add cooked onions and garlic and let cool. To the same bowl, add turkey, bread crumbs, barbecue sauce, oats, basil, oregano, wheat germ, salt and pepper. Mix well, using hands. Shape into 9 thin patties.
In a large nonstick skillet, lightly spray olive or canola oil and cook patties over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Flip burgers carefully and cook 5 minutes longer, or until golden brown and meat is no longer pink.
Serve on a whole-grain bun with the fruit or vegetable side of your choice.
Recipe adapted from Get a Real Food Life, June 2003.
Nutritional information (BURGER ONLY): 157 Calories, 8g fat, 106 mg sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 14 grams of protein.