You wouldn’t believe I was raised in Texas if I told you I had never made my own hamburger until recently. Well, truth be told I didn’t eat hamburgers until well into my twenties. It was one of my “food rules” that started when I was 12 years old. I’ll write more about my thoughts on food rules later, but for now let’s circle back to the burgers. I made them for the first time and after a few bites my husband said, “Can’t you make these with veggies in them, too, so I don’t have to eat them separately?” Well… wish granted! So here we have a made-over, healthy classic American cheeseburger!
How I Made This Classic American Cheeseburger Healthier
Most people think of a hamburger meal as really terrible for you – like, it really couldn’t get much worse, right? Well – wrong. What most people think of with a hamburger meal is a huge, juicy burger, dripping with fat and cheese, on enriched white bread, with a side of French fries and a beer. Let’s change that picture. We have to stop calling foods “bad” and “good” because the truth is that you can make any “bad” food “good” (or “good” food “bad”) by altering the composition of the recipe or that meal.Oversimplifying foods as good or bad doesn't teach #healthy behaviors. Drop the labels. Guide to #modify. Click To Tweet
Here’s how I made this meal healthier:
- First, I used a really lean beef.
- Second, I added veggies to my ground beef mixture to increase the overall fiber of the meal.
- Third, I made the burgers “slider size” to help with portion control (you could even eat two!).
- Fourth, I used a really thin sliced, sharp American cheddar cheese to boost flavor without adding too much extra saturated fat.
- Fifth, I used a whole grain slider bun.
- As a bonus, I used fresh avocado for my condiment because it adds a super rich, creamy flavor that’s the perfect topping to sink your teeth into.
I used a grass-finished 93% lean ground round for this burger. You can definitely use a conventional ground beef (rather than grass-finished), and I usually would have, but in this case it was leaner than the fresh conventional ground sirloin available at my local grocery store. Grass-finished beef can have a little bit of a gamier taste. Either way works great for the recipe.
There’s a story behind using *Montreal steak less sodium seasoning in this recipe. The first time I made burgers, I told my husband I wasn’t sure how I should season them. He said “Don’t worry! I’ve got this!” (Keep in mind, he literally has made us ramen noodles one time in all of marriage – no, like that was the extent of his cooking. Ever.) Fifteen minutes later he emerges, defeated. “They didn’t have the seasoning here.” I asked, “Oh what was it?” He says… “It’s called… Montreal Steak Seasoning.” Eye roll. “Honey, we have that at home.”
Hah! I thought it was really cute, though. And since Montreal steak seasoning resonates with him as “how burgers should be seasoned,”and I’d say it’s overall an American seasoning classic, I’ve rolled with it since (except the lower sodium version)!
We’ve got veggies in two places in this recipe: in the meat mixture and stacked in between the buns!
Inside the meat mixture, I’ve added garlic clove, large white mushrooms and a whole CUP of salad greens. I prepped these in the food processor before adding the meat. I used a bagged, baby spring mix (green leaf lettuce, mizuna, romaine, tango, green oak, green chard, spinach, arugula, etc. etc. literally there are 11 different types of leaves in this thing!) but you could use whatever salad greens you have on hand or prefer. Personally, I think spinach is also super mild to mix into meat mixtures.
In between the buns I added sliced tomato and butter lettuce. I chose butter lettuce because it’s in season for summer, and I really enjoy the flavor! The lettuce leaves are almost soft, not quite as crunchy as green leaf or Romaine lettuce.Check out this #healthy Classic American #cheeseburger with #avo & #veggies! Click To Tweet
I decided to top my burger off with some fresh avocado. If you have ever felt at least slightly inconvenienced trying to get the seed out of an avocado, I would highly recommend this *3-in-1 avocado slicer from OXO which I LOVE! Game changer.
Pop open your avo, remove the seed and either use the slicer or take a spoon to dip out some avocado and mash it on your burger bun. The rich flavor and creamy texture the avocado adds is actually everything. You won’t need anything else.
I’ve tried this, too, with hummus. It was pretty good. But avocado won. If you’re a sucker for ketchup, try this *reduced sugar ketchup by Heinz.
This recipe instructs on grilling your slider buns, but you can also toast them in the toaster oven for 2 1/2 minutes or broil them for 1 minute instead.
Finding whole grain slider buns isn’t necessarily the easiest thing on earth. Fortunately, my local grocery store (Central Market – which I’m obsessed with) makes some in-house. Otherwise I found these from Vermont Bread Company which look pretty delish but they aren’t sold anywhere in Texas – don’t worry I already checked. If you are one of the lucky souls who has these in your grocery store please tell me how you like them?! Lastly, I’ve tried these wheat slider buns from Pepperidge Farm which were tasty and soft but they’re not actually a whole grain. I’d say they’re probably your best bet if your local store doesn’t have a whole grain option. Still slightly more nutritious probably than a white slider bun, and keeps the size what you want for sliders instead of doing a 100% whole wheat hamburger bun (which is huge). Will somebody please invent a whole grain slider bun available throughout all of the US? Asking for a friend, here.
As per usual, I hope you love this recipe and enjoy it for this Memorial Day! I have another big post coming your way for a huge roundup of healthy Memorial Day recipes, which you can look forward to this Thursday! Happy noshing! ☺️
Disclosures: *We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. | All opinions are genuine. This post was not created in partnership with any product or brand.
Healthified Classic American Cheeseburger
- 4 large mushrooms
- 1 c salad greens, packed
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 lb lean ground beef (I used 93% lean ground round)
- 3/4 tsp Montreal steak seasoning, less sodium
- 1 large tomato, sliced (or 2 Roma tomatoes)
- 1 head butter lettuce, rinsed and dried
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 5 oz sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
- 10 whole wheat slider buns
- Preheat the grill (indoor or outdoor).
- Quarter the large mushrooms and add to food processor. Mix until the mushrooms appear to have the texture of ground meat.
- Add salad greens and garlic to food processor. Mix well.
- Add ground meat to food processor and pulse to blend. Avoid over-manipulating the beef as this can make the meat tough. Remove meat mixture from food processor and place in a bowl, or simply remove the blade from the food processor and work straight out of the food processing bowl.
- Begin forming 10 small patties, about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch tall. Place completed patties onto a clean plate.
- Season tops of burger patties with half of steak seasoning. Flip and season reverse side.
- Place on grill and heat to at least 160°F internal temperature. Patties should be well-browned with no visible pink.
- Remove from grill and straightway add cheese on top of burger patty (so it well melt nicely).
- If there is space on your grill, add slider buns to the grill during the last minute of cooking for a warm, grilled bun. If there is not space, add these to the grill after the burger patties are removed and the grates have been scraped.
- Assemble your burgers! Add burger patty to slider bun and top with tomato, lettuce and avocado. Option to "mash" your avocado onto the top of your slider bun so it stays in place easier while you eat.