Build a Better Burger

Ready to get healthier this summer? Create a healthier plate at dinner time. Next time you are at a backyard barbeque or even if you’re just cooking at home, think about making these simple swaps to your summer dinner plate.

Burgers are a summer staple that you'll see at most barbecues and picnics. But a juicy beef burger topped with “the works” could easily run you 500 calories or more. And that’s before you add the side dishes! Here are some simple swaps that you can make to build yourself a better burger.

  • Switch your 4-ounce beef patty for a 4-ounce lean turkey patty (made with meat that is 93% lean/7% fat). You’ll cut calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Swap that slice of cheddar cheese for 2-3 slices of avocado. The avocado will add some creamy texture and extra flavor. Plus, it’s an easy way to reduce the amount of saturated fat and increase the amount of healthy fat in your meal.
  • If you are looking for ways to cut calories, go for low-calorie toppings like a squirt of mustard (5 calories per teaspoon) and any non-starchy vegetables. Lettuce, other greens, sliced onion, tomato, or lightly sautéed mushrooms are all great choices. By skipping the tablespoon of mayonnaise, you’ll save yourself about 100 calories.
  • If it is an option, choose a whole wheat or whole grain bun. This can add some fiber to your meal. To cut calories and carbohydrate, try eating your burger open-faced.

Select Sides Carefully

You’ll also find a lot of heavy side dishes at picnics and barbeques. But when it comes time to fill your plate, remember the diabetes plate method. Half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables, so look for side dishes like grilled vegetable kabobs, fresh green salads, or lightly dressed coleslaw.

Do you already have a bun on your burger? One-fourth of your plate is for starch, so you’ve already covered the starchy food if you’ve got a bun. If not, choose a starchy side that will provide you with some extra nutrients and fiber. Some ideas are bean salads, grain salads, or corn on the cob.

If you are looking for tasty side dish recipes with summer produce, check out some of our favorites, which are listed below:

Enjoy Fresh, Delicious Desserts

Dessert is always kind of tricky when you are at a party. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Save desserts for special occasions.
  • Keep portions small.
  • Split a serving of dessert with someone else for half the calories.
  • Try to choose something that will add some extra fruit or dairy servings to your day. (Some examples are strawberry shortcake topped with fresh fruit, fruit salad, pudding, a yogurt parfait, or chocolate covered strawberries.)
  • Make a dessert that is on the lighter side but still tasty. Here are some ideas:

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