Beefy Mushroom Burgers

I adore big, juicy burgers, but honestly, I don’t want, or need, all that food. If you feel the same way, there are easy swaps you can make for a more nutritious burger meal, such as adding mushrooms for some of the meat, that don’t skimp on taste, and are also good for the planet. Here’s how I build a better burger, and how you can, too.

Mushrooms Matter

Recently, the Mushroom Council invited me to lunch at Alden & Harlow restaurant to learn more about The Blended Burger Project, a program that encourages chefs nationwide to create burgers using at least 25% mushrooms. (Please note that I did not write this post on behalf of the Mushroom Council and I did not receive anything from them other than lunch.)

I was particularly fascinated with some new research about mushroom sustainability, which found that it’s possible to grow up to one million pounds of mushrooms on a single acre of land, and that producing a pound of mushrooms requires less than two gallons of water. That’s good news for the environment.

Mushrooms are tan and white, and they often get disregarded for their lack of color, which is taken to mean that they’re not worth much nutritionally. Wrong! Mushrooms supply B vitamins, selenium and other protective compounds, and when producers expose them to ultraviolet rays, mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D. In fact, they are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle!

Mushrooms may be better for you than you realize!

Become a Blenditarian

Mushroom sustainability and nutrition is only part of what I wanted to share with you. The meeting inspired me to create an appealing blended burger recipe that’s easy to make at home, especially since it’s National Burger Month.

Blending mushrooms with meat is not new to me. Mushrooms have a meaty texture and a savory taste called umami which pairs well with meat. My Beef and Mushroom Stew recipe forgoes some meat for mushrooms.  I also use mushrooms to replace meat in marinara sauce and on pizza.

Lean ground beef, ground skinless turkey breast, and other lean animal foods, such as bison, are full of valuable nutrients, including protein, zinc, and iron.  Too many large, fatty burgers on white buns can spell trouble for your health, however.

Substituting mushrooms for some meat, no matter how fatty, increases vegetable intake – always a good idea – and naturally decreases the calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in a typical burger.

Beefy Mushroom Burgers

In my blended recipe, each burger uses just two ounces of lean beef.  When I serve the burgers, I skip the chips (well, I may have one or two), opt for whole wheat hamburger buns, and enjoy a large fresh green salad topped with olive oil and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for extra crunch and nutrition.  I like to garnish my burger with a horseradish/mayonnaise mixture, sliced tomato, and lettuce.

Preparation tip: Make a double batch and freeze raw burgers individually for future use.

Beefy Mushroom Burgers

Makes 4.

12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, or any mushroom

2 teaspoons olive oil

8 ounces 93% lean ground beef

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 2-ounce whole wheat buns, toasted or grilled, if desired

 

Chop mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces.

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil to the pan and heat.  Add mushrooms to pan and saute for 3 to 5 minutes.  Season with ground black pepper.

Place mushrooms in a food processor or blender and pulse until they take on a paste-like consistency, about 10-15 seconds.

In a medium bowl, combine the mushrooms, beef, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, and Worcestershire sauce.  Form mixture into 4 patties of equal size.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Cook burgers for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until they reach an internal temperature of 160˚F.

To serve, place patties on buns with desired toppings.

Per serving (burger and bun): 
360 calories; 11 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 141 milligrams cholesterol; 771 milligrams sodium; 40 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 27 grams protein

 

Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies

Broccoli cheese calzone is a regular on the dinner menu in my house because it’s easy to make, takes just three ingredients, and everyone likes it. Check, check and check! In fact, I make the large calzone so often that I thought it was high time to shake it up. The result: Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies. More fun, and even better for you. And perfect for a Meatless Monday meal!

Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies are fun to eat, and good for you, too!

The recipe is really not a recipe at all.

All you need is 10 cups chopped, cooked 1-inch broccoli florets, 1 pound of whole wheat pizza dough, 16 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese (you can use pre-shredded cheese, block cheese cut into thin slices, or a mixture), and 3 teaspoons olive oil, which is optional.

That’s it!

Heat the oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 8, 7-inch circles.  I use an inverted bowl to do this. You may need to gather up the dough and roll it out again to make eight circles.

Place half the cheese on the rounds to within a half inch of the edge of the dough. The cheese forms a barrier between the dough and the broccoli to keep the hand pie from getting soggy.

Don’t worry about the cheese. Use whatever type you have on hand.

Top with the remaining cheese.

Fold the dough in half over the broccoli and cheese filling, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. They’re messy, so no need to be super neat about the filling!

Gently place the hand pies on to the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil for a more golden glow, if desired.

Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies are cute, a bit messy, and delicious!

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies are a portable feast. Pair leftovers with fruit for lunch.

Raspberry Fudge Cake

Warning: Rave ahead. As in I can’t stop raving about this rich, flourless chocolate and black bean cake topped with fresh raspberries.  Trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavors!  Although it contains added sugar, Raspberry Fudge Cake is better for you than typical desserts.  This recipe is a riff on the Black Bean Brownie Bites in my latest book Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

Produce Power 

Fruits and vegetables help to make indulgences healthier. In this case, the raspberries and black beans work together to bump the fiber content to 8 grams (about 25% of the Daily Value) and the protein to 7 grams per serving.

Here’s why I use fruit, and vegetables, including beans, in baked goods and snacks.

Beans are brimming with nutrients including protein, fiber, potassium, and phytonutrients, compounds that protect your body. When pureed and used in baked goods, beans are useful as fat replacers, and they enhance the fudge-like texture. Check out the many amazing ways food blogger Catherine Katz at Cuisinicity works magic with lentils in sweet, and savory, dishes.

I cannot get enough raspberries! They’re delicious, beautiful, and powerful little orbs that supply vitamin C, fiber, phytonutrients, and so much more. And raspberries provide natural sweetness so you can use less added sugar when cooking.

An All-Around Great Cake

I told you I was going to brag.

Raspberry Fudge Cake takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. While it looks special enough for a celebration, it’s so easy to make that you can have it any time.

We are mad for this cake in our house. I hope you like it as much as we do!

Raspberry Fudge Cake

Makes 8 servings.

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon canola oil

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Place the beans and 3 tablespoons of oil in a food processor. Process on high until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and blend well.  Add the baking powder and salt and blend for 10 seconds more. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes.

Top the cake with the raspberries.  Combine the remaining teaspoon of canola oil and the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave until chips are melted, about 20 to 30 seconds, stopping to stir once.  Immediately drizzle the chocolate mixture on top of the raspberries. Allow the chocolate to harden for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 
316 calories; 14 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat); 54 milligrams cholesterol; 271 milligrams sodium; 45 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams fiber; 7 grams protein

 

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

I love muffins, but I don’t love the huge, high-calorie coffee shop and supermarket versions filled with refined carbohydrates and not much else in the way of nutrition. I bake a batch of these simple, no-added sugar oatmeal cups on the weekends to have as part of breakfast or for snacks all week long. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups get their sweetness from fruit.

Why are these “muffins” better than most? In addition to having no added sugar, they use oatmeal, a more nutritious, whole grain, instead of white flour, and offer heart-healthy fat. Bananas and raisins supply vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Walnuts add even more heart-healthy fat, as well as fiber, and protein, too.

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

Makes 16 servings.

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. (I find this works better than lining the pan with paper liners because the muffins tend to stick to the paper.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Whisk in the milk.

Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Add the raisins. Stir well to combine. The batter has a lot of liquid in it, so don’t worry if it looks soupy.

Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (a scant 1/4-cup full).

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving (made without walnuts): Calories: 145, Carbohydrate: 21 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 6 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 80 milligrams.

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

With or without walnuts, No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups are better for you than store-bought muffins.

Per serving (made with walnuts): Calories: 169, Carbohydrate: 22 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 90 milligrams.

Tuna Burgers With Smashed Avocado and Tomato

I make these tuna burgers a lot. I love them so much that I included them in my latest book, Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive to enjoy the benefits of these burgers! Experts suggest that adults eat at least two fish meals weekly, and that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume two to three meals a week. My burgers are made with canned tuna, an inexpensive, convenient source of several nutrients, including protein, iodine, and omega-3 fats necessary for heart health, and for a baby’s brain development and vision.

Tuna Burgers With Smashed Avocado and Tomato are ready in less than 30 minutes!

 

Tuna Burgers With Smashed Avocado and Tomato

Makes 4 servings.

4  5-1/2 ounce cans or pouches of tuna, drained

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or red onion

2 teaspoons dried dill

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pitted avocado, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 small tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

4 2-ounce whole-grain sandwich buns or whole-wheat English muffins

Place the tuna in a medium mixing bowl and break it up into small pieces with a fork.  Add the bread crumbs, eggs, shallots, and dill, and combine well.  Form the mixture into four burgers.

 

Use an empty tuna can to form the burgers so that they are uniform in size and fit on the buns or English muffins.

 

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook burgers for about four minutes on each side.

The tuna burgers should be cooked until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside.  

 

I usually make a double batch of this recipe because they are easy to freeze and reheat for a quick lunch or dinner.

Wrap cooked tuna burgers well and date the package. They will last for several months in the freezer. Reheat in the microwave and make the avocado/tomato topping just before serving.

 

In a small bowl, combine the avocado and tomato until just mixed, mashing lightly while stirring.  To serve, place burgers on sandwich buns and top with the avocado mixture. Enjoy with baby carrots for extra crunch and more vegetables.

Delicious and nutritious Tuna Burgers With Smashed Avocado and Tomato pack omega-3 fats, fiber, protein, and much more!

 

Per serving:
430 calories; 14 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 139 milligrams cholesterol; 810 milligrams sodium; 40 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams fiber; 39 grams protein

Luck of the Irish Green Smoothie

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You don’t even need to wear green – you can drink it instead! Sip this no-added-sugar version of a fast-food shamrock shake and count yourself lucky for all the good nutrition and great taste it supplies.

This delicious smoothie supplies one and a half servings of fruits and vegetables, nine grams of fiber, nearly as much calcium as a glass of milk, heart-healthy fat, and much more. You won’t find all that in a pre-fab artificially colored shake from you-know-where!

The recipe calls for matcha, which is finely-ground green tea leaves. Matcha has phytonutrients, plant compounds that protect cells against damage. It also contains caffeine.

When you use McCormick Gourmet Organic Matcha Green Tea with Ginger Seasonings*, the caffeine content is about approximately four milligrams, about the same as a 12-ounce cup of decaffeinated coffee.

If you use regular matcha, the smoothie has about 50 milligrams of caffeine. For the sake of comparison, 16-ounces of Starbucks brewed coffee has 330 milligrams.

It’s possible to leave matcha out of the smoothie without changing its great taste.  You can also make it vegan by using unsweetened fortified soy beverage instead of dairy.

Enjoy!

Luck of the Irish Green Smoothie

Makes 1 serving.

1/2 cup chopped kale (or spinach)

1/2 medium frozen ripe banana, sliced

1/2 pitted ripe avocado, sliced

1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk*

1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Organic Matcha Green Tea with Ginger Seasoning, or regular matcha

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes or tunnel smooth. Pour into a glass and drink immediately.

* Swap 1/2 cup unsweetened soy beverage to make it vegan.

Per serving (using kale and 1% low-fat milk):
281 calories; 16 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 6 milligrams cholesterol; 76 milligrams sodium; 32 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams fiber; 8 grams protein

*McCormick is not a client of mine, and neither is Organic Living Superfoods.

3 Better Ways to Weight Loss

Just thinking about what to eat for for weight loss can be overwhelming. These three no-brainer tweaks to your eating plan can get you off the diet rollercoaster for good starting at your very next meal, and without any deprivation.

Peanut Butter, Raspberry, and Oats Smoothie Bowl from Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.

 

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast serves up an opportunity to include the nutrients you need. The energy it provides jump-starts the body and brain after sleep.

I talk here about how studies suggest that eating the morning meal does not guarantee better weight control, so it may seem like I am contradicting myself by recommending breakfast.

Yes, the research about breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive. But in my experience, people skip breakfast because they’re not hungry in the morning, and they’re not hungry in the morning because they ate too much before going to bed. Eating more regularly throughout the day, starting in the morning, may prevent overeating at night and could decrease your calorie intake overall.

Many people don’t like traditional “breakfast” foods. No problem. As long as it contains enough protein, found in foods such as dairy, eggs, and beans, and it’s otherwise nutritious and balanced, it’s breakfast! It’s OK to divide breakfast up into two smaller meals, too.

Make the Change to Whole Grains

I recently wrote about a new study that showed swapping whole grains for the refined kinds burns calories and boosts metabolism.  What a gift! You eat delicious whole grains, and you burn calories!

This No-Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Quick Bread is packed with whole grains and nuts. Get the recipe here.

 

Give the change to whole grains a try.  Instead of white bread, have whole wheat. Enjoy oatmeal for breakfast and pass over the white bread bagel and cream cheese. Experiment with  whole grains such as freekeh or farro instead of white pasta or rice at dinner. Easy peasy!

Snack on Nuts

Studies show that nuts have fewer calories than what’s on the label. That’s a good reason to make them your snack of choice.

Research has found that whole roasted almonds have 25% fewer calories than what is listed on food labels; walnuts supply 21% fewer calories; and pistachios also contain fewer calories than what the label says.  It stands to reason the same goes for peanuts, too.

One ounce of nuts is an excellent substitution for the same amount of snack chips, pretzels or chocolate. In addition to fewer calories, nuts provide more protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, powerful plant compounds that protect your cells, as well as heart-healthy fat.

 

 

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