JEFF TIEDEMAN: What's on your buns?It’s hard to go wrong with burgers. Just about everybody loves them. And when the weather is nice enough to fire up the grill, they’re a quick and easy meal option that does not require messing up the kitchen stove.
It’s hard to go wrong with burgers. Just about everybody loves them.
And when the weather is nice enough to fire up the grill, they’re a quick and easy meal option that does not require messing up the kitchen stove.
While grilling is a year-round affair for many, there still are a lot of people who wait for shorts and T-shirt weather before pulling out a trusty old Weber or a newer gas or electric grill.
If you are in the latter group, you have an early chance to feast on burgers, ribs and more at Saturday’s Sioux Tailgate Cook-off Challenge in the Alerus Center parking lot.
Several cooking teams will be vying for top prizes as they try to impress local celebrity judges in the second annual cooking competition. (Among those taking part are Pizza Ranch, Country Club, Blue Moose, Canad Inns, Alerus Center, Sanders 1907, Italian Moon/A1 Catering, UND Alumni Foundation, Hugo’s, Ground Round, Wild Hog/Sleep Inn, Dana Hermes, Rosty’s Ribs, Dakota TV, Makin’ Bacon BBQ, Mancave, Guest House Inn/Muddy Rivers and Bobcat.)
Area food vendors and restaurants also will participate in a “Taste of Grand Forks,” providing samples to fans in a People’s Choice Competition. Voting begins at noon, conducted by the general public. Contest winners will be announced at halftime of the UND spring football game, which follows at 3 p.m..
Last year, I helped judge the burger competition, which featured a playbook full of entries, most of which went well beyond the basic burger. While most were pretty tasty, they are unlikely to be found on a list of foods recommended by Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem.
That’s not to say burgers topped with big slabs of cheese or several slices of bacon, for example, don’t have a place in restaurants, where people go for something special.
But at home, burgers made with lean meats and portion size kept in check is a better option. And they can be part of a healthy meal plan, according to Lynn Holum, clinical dietitian with Altru Health System.
“The key to a great burger is flavor,” she said. “When using lean meat like ground bison, chicken, turkey or 93 percent lean ground beef, adding spices, herbs and veggies to replace the flavor lost from the fat is a great idea.”
I would like to add a couple of more options: Burgers made out of fish — tuna or salmon, for example — or one featuring portobello mushroom caps cooked on the grill.
Holum said people also should keep in mind the toppings for their burgers.
“Adding cheese, bacon, mayonnaise and fried onions can significantly increase the calories and fat of your average burger.”
Holum suggests these healthy substitutions to keep the flavor and texture of popular toppings but without the added calories and fat:
— Use lots of fresh vegetables, such as crispy lettuce, juicy tomatoes and flavorful red onion.
— Add some spice to your burger with mustard or jalapenos.
— Try using avocados, which will give you some healthy fats along with a creamy consistency similar to cheese.
— Consider using more flavorful cheeses, such as sharp Cheddar or aged Parmesan, so you can get more flavor with less cheese, as well as fewer calories and less fat.
— Replace regular bacon with Canadian bacon to save about 100 calories and 9 grams of fat per ounce.
I can’t wait to get home to pull out my grill.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.