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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Herbed Turkey Burger

Cookout Survival Guide


I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger, Noel Konken, Illinois State University Dietetic intern!

Memorial Day Weekend jump starts the season of cookouts, potlucks, and picnics. While these social gatherings are a classic American summer tradition, they are not always conducive to healthy eating. By following these simple guidelines, you can navigate your way through cookouts all summer long without adding that extra notch in your belt.

First, pick your protein wisely by avoiding meats like brats and hot dogs. A single hot dog may only contain 150 calories, but it can pack up to 20% of your daily recommended fat intake with only 5 grams of protein. Opt for leaner sources of protein, such as a turkey burger or burger made with 95% lean ground beef. Be easy on the condiments too, many commercially prepared toppings contain large amounts of added sugar and salt. In fact, one Tablespoon of Ketchup contains 3.7 grams of sugar—that's nearly one sugar cube! Swap this for a whole grain mustard or dollop of fresh guacamole which are more nutrient-rich.

Additionally, choosing the right side can make or break the meal. Grilled vegetables or fresh fruit skewers are always a great choice. Other options, such as a bean salsa or hummus on whole grain pita chips, can help satisfy your cravings because they are high in fiber. At a cookout, it is also important to remember that not all salads are created equal. Mayonnaise-based salads, including coleslaw, potato, and macaroni salad, are loaded with added fat and sodium, so stick with a classic green or cucumber salad tossed in light vinaigrette.

Lastly, at summer gatherings there always seems to be an array of freshly baked cookies, patriotic cupcakes, and fudgy brownies on a massive dessert table in the middle of all the action. Because of this, avoiding dessert may be out of the question so choose your favorite treat on the table to thoroughly enjoy. Indulge in the moment and eat slowly-- then keep away from the dessert table to fight further temptation.

Herbed Turkey Burger (Printable PDF)

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

½ cup minced parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

6 whole wheat buns (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and form 6 patties. Wash your hands and refrigerate burgers until ready for cooking. Grill patties on medium heat for 7 minutes each side, or until burger reaches internal temperature of 165°F. Add any toppings of tomato, leaf lettuce, cheese or sliced avocado to your liking.

Yield: 6 burgers

Nutrition Facts (with whole wheat bun): 230 calories, 7 grams fat, 378 milligrams sodium, 43 grams cholesterol, 19 grams protein, 4 grams fiber



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