Tag Archives: hamburger

Healthy Choices

9 Jun

I love cooking at home.  In my opinion, home food preparation with the freshest ingredients that the budget will allow is key to good health.  But for me, it is also a way to express my creativity as well as my commitment to wellness.  Most days, I find pleasure in going to my kitchen and creating a lovely healthy meal for my family, even after a long day at work.  But lets face it.  As a single mother of 3 kids, it just isn’t always feasible.  So what do I do then?

Sometimes when I don’t have time to cook or grab leftovers,  I go out and make some poor choices with food.  Lack of time means fast food wins at times.  And that’s okay.  Occasionally.  That’s the life of a busy american family nowadays.  We often get the kids off to school, zip to work, run from work to a school meeting, a sport practice, or to run errands.  Time, for most of us, is our most precious commodity.

Recently though, I made a decision to eat healthy even when I ate out.  Actually, I wanted to see if it was possible, especially on my tight family budget.  I am happy to report that it was challenging, but doable.   Not only that, it was enjoyable, flavorful, and satisfying.  What in the world do I mean?  Let me explain.

Have a breakfast meeting?  No time to make a lunch to take to work?  Is the family schedule and soccer practice making cooking at home impossible today?  Well I have good news.  A family can eat healthily at a restaurant.  Last Friday night I met friends out for dinner.  I ordered a hamburger and opted for sautéed veggies instead of french fries.  And this was at a “sports bar” type of restaurant.  I ate my hamburger without the bun with the veggies and it was delicious.  True confessions…Yes, I had a beer too.  But that is a good natural beverage, right?  I mean, hops are all natural flowering plants after all.  I am just saying…..

Back to the food!  A few days ago I went to out breakfast with my daughter.  I was able to have a fresh fruit cup with an egg white sandwich on whole grain bread.  It was a well rounded breakfast that held my tummy till lunch.  (Nothing bothers me more than my stomach “growling in the late morning!”).  Upon seeing my order and how delicious it looked, she also ordered a low cal fresh fruit cup and a nutrient dense sandwich to go with her fruit.  It is entirely possible to have healthy meals out and continue with a commitment to wellness!  When you can’t make a good home made meal, what change can you make today to eat a little better when you go to a restaurant?  Let me know!

A fresh fruit cup from a restaurant.  Eating out in a healthy manner!

A fresh fruit cup from a restaurant. Eating out in a healthy manner!

Burger Bonanza!

24 Mar

Variety is the spice of life.  And all things in moderation.  These are 2 rules I use when including red meat in my diet.  Red meat has health benefits, but I also understand and respect folks that abstain from it.  I have worked in clinical nutrition for well over a decade, and have loads of both cooking classes food science classes under my belt.  I respect all forms of healthful eating, morals of food choices, and religious dietary laws.  But I am of christian faith and do not have religious dietary restrictions on a day to day basis that restrict my dietary choices.  I eat, and in fact crave, a red meat every now and again.  Last night was one of those occasions.  I really wanted a burger, and luckily, so did Denis!

We decided that a good fresh burger on the grill was in order for dinner.  Being a foodie, grabbing preformed generic burgers at the grocer is just not acceptable.  Denis and I were making the burgers, and began discussing not only the burger, but the all important toppings.  Now I have picked many people’s brain about burgers and toppings.  A wide variety of folks, including food writers such as William Rice, local restauranteurs in the South, and even a highly esteemed chef from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Let me tell you, this is a hot topic!  But I digress.

Denis is a foodie just as passionate (read nutty, as most foodies attest to!) about food as I am.  You know that you are a foodie when you talk about a future meal while eating a current (and outstanding!) one.  So we were having this fantastic post workout protein fest in the morning, but needed more.  We had an intense workout and were craving a big burger.  A big naughty one!  A real flavor buster!  We decided to go to the butcher for some good fresh ground meat, and season the high quality meat with none other than garlic.  We wanted a real flavor pop.  We then started considering the critical tipping point of a great burger…the toppings.

Once again throwing caution to the wind in regards to our breath (after all, we were loading up our precooked burgers with garlic!), we decided that we would caramelize some onions and mushrooms to top our burger.  Yum!   But those can be a bit sloppy to pile onto a burger.  Solution?  A brilliant one!  It was one that we would have to experiment with, but if a foodie isn’t pushing the envelope a bit, then you just aren’t a true foodie!  (We are a snobby bunch in that regard!)  Denis pushed a little indentation in the middle of the burger leaving a little room to pile on the onions and mushrooms.

Here is the home made burger prior to cooking with a little indentation for the toppings.

Here is the home made burger prior to cooking with a little indentation for the toppings.

As Denis worked on the burgers, I set out carmelizing the onions.  I took sliced onions and put them into a piping hot cast iron skillet that had a little butter and olive oil bubbling away.  As the onions sautéed, I deglazed the pan with a few tablespoons of red wine.  That added a nice undertone of flavor to the onions.  When those were soft and translucent, I tossed in 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms.  I usually use an assortment of mushrooms, as now the grocery store carries them already conveniently sliced up and recipe ready.  The wonderful aromas filling the kitchen were amazing.

Delicious onions and mushrooms cooking for our burger topping!

Delicious onions and mushrooms cooking for our burger topping!

Burgers are not complete, in my book, without lettuce or some good greens piled on regardless of the other toppings.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again…I love a salad on my sandwich!  Anywhoooo…we went on to build our burgers.  And they were spectacular.  I eat red meat sparingly, so I like it to really count.  And count it did with these loaded burgers!  We had a fresh crisp romaine salad and oven baked potato wedges to round out our meal.  And our breath wasn’t bad at all!  Well, we didn’t think so.  The others around us might have had a different opinion!  But the “death breath” was sure worth it!  Garlic and onions have loads of health benefits, but thats a tale for another day!

Denis has named his new burger concoction the “Make Room For All The Good Stuff In Life” burger.  Love it!  What are you going to fit on your burger?

See?  The top of the bun fit on the burger just fine!  This burger was piled high with onions, mushrooms, and lettuce.

See? The top of the bun fit on the burger just fine! This burger was piled high with onions, mushrooms, and lettuce.

P.S.  We weren’t sure if the burger would cook evenly with the indent in it.  No worries.  It grilled up evenly and beautifully!  And also a word about cooking wine.  I use drinking wine when I cook.  Recipes usually call for very little wine, so use good wine.  Please…never buy  “cooking wine” in the grocery store.  Yes, it is labeled as such.  Use something that you would drink.  If I have some wine left in a bottle, I have frozen it in an ice cube tray to use at a later time.  It is the perfect amount to use in a sauce for deglazing a pan.