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Ways to cut calories from your hamburgers

June 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hamburgers are one of America's favorite foods. While they are delicious, all of those toppings can create a calorie nightmare. But there are ways to build a better burger.

"You do not have to come and get a fat-laden burger with onion strings and bacon and garlic aioli. You can go as healthy as you want to go," said Jeff Weinstein, The Counter restaurants founder.

Yes, it's there if you want that, but Weinstein has devised a way to allow you - just like you could and should at home - to have it your way. His motto: Create your own burger dream.

Weinstein says think about protein options first: beef, turkey, chicken, or veggie burger made of black beans, rice and veggies.

Add the optional cheese and sauce, go crazy with tasty toppings that won't break the calorie bank and then choose your bun.

"Or you can go bun-less, what we call burger in a bowl, which is essentially designing and creating your own salad," said Weinstein.

For example, there's the Asian veggie burger in a bowl.

"It is made from 11 different vegetables. It comes on a bed of baby greens with carrots and roasted red peppers and a ginger soy sauce," said Weinstein.

But beyond going veggie, the patty isn't always the problem. We all know there's more to a burger than well, just the burger itself. Often the extras are loaded with fat and calories. So if you're smart about the toppings, you can take a pass on the guilt.

"You can go as healthy as you want to go," said Weinstein.

Whether you're at your own counter or theirs, think about extras that bring flavor and texture that satisfy without saturated fat. For example, we created a turkey burger spiced up with olives, jalapeno, mild chilies, roasted corn, a sprinkle of feta, topped with avocado on a bed of greens.

Or swap beef for chicken as a high protein, low fat option that works well with grilled fruit, like pineapple. And no surprise, grilled veggies are better than fries as a side - although admittedly a tough sell.

Actually a Counter favorite you might try doing at home, make a turkey burger with a slice of jalapeno jack cheese and top with dried cranberries.

Finally, you can see a nice calorie saving with size. Swap that supersized one-pound patty and take it down to four ounces, the perfect protein portion.

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