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Gourmet burgers that won't break your diet

July 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It is time to belly up to the barbecue. But rather than the standard burger with cheese, we've gotten sassy with sauces, herbs and toppings to give you new ways to celebrate your Independence Day."You can go to any restaurant and get your basic burger, but if you're going to make one why don't you make something that is so great and so fun and different?" asked Chef Jeanne Kelley.

Contributing chef to Bon Appetit magazine, Kelley showed us three ways to fire up the grill with an international flair.

Try an Italian mozzarella pesto burger. It sounds decadent but the ingredients tell a different story.

You're getting a lot of greens in this burger, and the spinach is especially healthy. The pesto contains about 10 cups of spinach plus arugula, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese mixed up into a beautiful sauce used in the meat and on top of the patty. Top it with low fat mozzarella and a slice of tomato, and grilled veggies on the side.

Kelley also put a health spin on her garlic curry Bombay sliders by using turkey in lieu of ground beef.

"These are little burgers and they are flavored with chopped fresh cilantro and ginger and more curry powder," said Kelley.

The three ounce sliders are topped with either homemade curry sauce of curry powder, garlic, mayo and ketchup or Indian yogurt sauce known as raita.

Another beef departure is minted lamb burgers with feta and hummus for a treat from the Middle East.

"It's flavored with lots of fresh mint and cumin and paprika," said Kelley.

And while beef lovers might shy away from using lamb, Kelley says...

"There's so much mint and garlic and great flavors mixed into the meat that their probably not going to know the difference," said Kelley.

Top the burger with onion, feta cheese, Romaine lettuce and hummus on a Kaiser roll or a more authentic pita.

So while there's nothing more American than a good old cheeseburger. Consider this: with our nation is a melting pop of culture and flavor, so why not mix it up?

Notes on Italian mozzarella pesto burger:

- In this recipe, we are using beef for our burgers, and have filled the patty with a healthy Spinach Arugula Pesto
- The pesto is used in the burger patty, and is also spread as a yummy sauce on the bun
- If you are in a hurry you can use store-bought pesto
- For the mozzarella cheese on top, you can use nonfat cheese, which is a healthy choice
- You can get creative by adding additional toppings, like grilled vegetables (which you can cook as you are grilling the burger)

Notes on Bombay sliders with curry sauce:

- Sliders, or smaller burgers, are a great option when eating healthy because you are more likely to eat less
- We are using turkey meat, which is filled with curry, cilantro, cumin, and a few other delicious spices
- Raita is an Indian yogurt, herb and cucumber relish, and is a wonderful low-fat topping for burgers - it's especially good on curry-spiced chicken or turkey burgers
- Top the burger with the garlic curry sauce, as well as an onion, tomato, and cucumber

Notes on minted lamb burgers with feta and hummus:

- Herbs are a delicious way to add health to your burger toppings, and what better way than to pair up two traditional things - lamb and mint
- You should consider mint and oregano on lamb, basil and cilantro on turkey and chicken, thyme on beef
- Hummus is a great sauce to put on any burger - beef, turkey, but especially lamb
- You can make your own hummus or pick some up at the market
- To cut down on carbs, try a lamb patty with hummus, tomato slices, mint and arugula tucked into a whole-wheat pita bread half

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