Build a better burger
Burgers are the essence of a BBQ, you can't really argue with that. However, the classic burger isn’t always so friendly on the waistline or your health, but fear not as you needn’t live a life of burger-less BBQs. Try one of these delicious alternatives designed by sports dietician and marathoner, Dr Pamela Nisevich Bede and enjoy that BBQ in the knowledge you’re helping your run performance.
What: Asian salmon burgers
Why: Research has shown that eating more omega-3 fats from fish improves your immune system, and so may help runners fend off colds and infections by fighting inflammation and stimulating germ-fighting cells. To help bind the burger together, use wheatgerm instead of white breadcrumbs, as the former is rich in fibre and nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium and zinc, and the antioxidant selenium. Grilled pineapple makes for a sweet, juicy topping that’s abundant in vitamin C and manganese, a mineral required for proper carbohydrate metabolism and bone formation.
1. In a food processor, blend 225g salmon, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tsp chilli sauce, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tsp minced fresh ginger, 1 tsp orange zest and ¼ tsp black pepper.
2. Finely chop another 225g of salmon and pulse into the blended mixture, along with 60g wheatgerm, 3 chopped spring onions and a small handful of chopped coriander.
3. Form into 4 burgers and barbecue until done. Brush 4 pineapple rings with oil and grill for 2 mins. Top each burger with 2 tsp hoisin sauce and a slice of grilled pineapple
What: Curry crab burgers with guacamole
Why: Nutrient-dense crabmeat provides boatloads of vitamin B12. ‘Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell production, which, in turn, helps carry oxygen to muscles, and runners who don’t get enough of it will fatigue easier,’ says Nisevich Bede. Crab is also rich in selenium, an antioxidant that may reduce levels of oxidative stress following exercise, which could help both speed recovery and reduce heart-disease risk. Mixing in sweetcorn adds a sugary hit while delivering lutein and zeaxanthin, which can improve eye health. Replace fatty bacon with creamy guacamole. Made with avocado, it’s a great source of monounsaturated fat. ‘This fat is considered heart-healthy since it can help improve cholesterol levels,’ says Nisevich Bede.
1. Mix together 240g crabmeat, 165g sweetcorn, 60g wholewheat panko breadcrumbs, 1 large egg, 3 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tbsp chopped chives, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1½ tsp curry powder and ¼ tsp black pepper.
2. Form into 4 burgers and barbecue for 5 minutes per side.
3. Serve burgers topped with guacamole (Yarden Guacamole, £2.60 for 195g, ocado.com)
What: Mediterranean turkey burgers
Why: Turkey burgers often end up dry and tasteless. The key is to add moisture- and flavour-packed ingredients, such as the following Mediterranean-inspired suggestions. Roasted red pepper adds vitamin C, an antioxidant important for runners’ immune systems, says Nisevich Bede, ‘especially people doing heavy training who begin to feel run-down’. Feta cheese delivers bone-building calcium, while olives provide antioxidants. Top the lot with homemade sun-dried tomato spread for a dose of lycopene, a carotenoid that may lessen the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays and lower your skin-cancer risk.
1. In a bowl, mix 240g turkey mince, 230g chopped feta cheese, ½ a chopped roasted red pepper, a small handful of chopped fresh basil, 50g chopped Kalamata olives and ¼ tsp black pepper.
2. Form the mix into 4 burgers and barbecue until cooked through.
3. In a blender, combine 60g sun-dried tomatoes, 80ml olive oil, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp fresh thyme, 1 garlic clove, ½ tsp smoked paprika and ¼ tsp each of salt and black pepper. Blend until smooth. Serve burgers topped with the spread
What: Chipotle cocoa bison burgers
Why: Bison tastes similar to beef, but contains less fat and is slightly sweeter. Plus, research published in Nutrition Research found that, compared with beef, bison produces less of a spike in blood triglycerides and less inflammation – both heart-disease risk factors. Just like it’s bovine cousin, though, bison packs plenty of iron. This is good news for runners, as ‘iron is part of the protein haemoglobin that transports oxygen from the lungs to the working muscles’, says Jeffrey. Add cocoa powder for both the flavour and an extra shot of antioxidants to help fend off cell-damaging free radicals.
1. In a large bowl, gently mix 450g minced bison (osgrow.com, bisonfarm.co.uk, keziefoods.co.uk), 3 tbsp barbecue sauce, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (£2.45 for 210g, mexgrocer.co.uk), 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 chopped shallot, 2 tsp fresh thyme, 1 tsp cumin and ¼ tsp each of salt and black pepper.
2. Form the mixture into 4 burgers and barbecue for 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Top each burger with a slice of your preferred cheese and let it melt.
What: Sweet potato bean burgers
Why: Combine sweet potato and haricot beans for a veggie burger that’s packed with carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A and fibre. ‘Vitamin A improves vision and the health of your immune system,’ says sports dietitian Katie Jeffrey. Meanwhile, the fibre slows digestion and keeps you feeling full. Mix in nutrient-dense walnuts for some crunch and replace mayonnaise with a spread of olive oil and parsley. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats and also contain the amino acid arginine, which improves blood flow when converted to nitric oxide in the body. Parsley offers plenty of vitamin K, which bolsters bone health.
1. Steam or boil 2 medium peeled and chopped sweet potatoes until tender. Let cool, then mash with 400g haricot beans. Stir in 160g wheatgerm, 80g chopped red onion, 60g chopped walnuts, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp ground cumin and ¼ tsp each of salt and black pepper.
2. Form into 6 burgers and barbecue for 4 minutes per side, until the crust is crispy.
3. In a blender, combine a handful of parsley, 80ml olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, 1 chopped garlic clove, and ¼ tsp salt. Blend and spoon over the burgers.
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