Part of my goal in creating FoodTrients has been to help people get healthier by eating wholesome foods. I have helped friends regulate their diabetes by encouraging them to drink my chia frescas every day. I have helped older relatives stay nourished by providing them fresh moringa leaves to incorporate in soups, dips, and other foods. And countless colleagues have told me that they have learned just from reading my blogs how the food they eat affects their bodies. Now, I am addressing people’s requests to create healthy versions of their favorite comfort foods.
Americans love hamburgers. In this country many people eat burgers every day. We all know that fast-food chains make overly processed, greasy versions that don’t do us any good. But burgers don’t have to be unhealthy. By choosing good meat, adding some extra nutrients, and topping with plenty of healthy veggies, burgers can be downright healthful.
I often choose buffalo meat for my burgers because buffalo are almost always raised on grass. Grass-fed meat (whether buffalo, steer, or lamb) is higher in the good omega-3 fatty acids, lower in the bad omega-6 fatty acids, and leaner overall. You can use any grass-fed meat or even ground turkey (organic if possible) for this recipe (see below).
Because I like to work nutrient-dense ingredients into my recipes whenever possible, I decided to add cranberries to the ground meat. This idea dates back to Native Americans, who ate patties of pemmican: dried buffalo meat stuck together with dried cranberries. These early power bars accompanied the Indian hunters on long trips away from camp. Dark red fruits—such as cranberries and cherries—really complement red meat. Plus, cranberries are very high in antioxidants. I knew that if I left the dried cranberries whole, they might make the patties fall apart, so I ground them up. If you grind them by themselves they will form a sticky mass, so I ground them together with breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs help low-fat meats stay tender while cooking over high heat.
Once I created a delicious patty, I turned my attention to toppings. Of course, you can use ketchup or mustard on these burgers, but I made them more flavorful by adding goat cheese. And, instead of using store-bought pickles, I used my Backyard Farmer Pickling Kit from Spring Valley Farms (available at The Grommet) to make a batch of New York deli-style pickles from fresh cucumbers. The kit comes with all the spices you need and the directions for assembling. I just heated the spices with white vinegar of my choice and poured the brine over the fresh cucumbers. The pickles are ready in 24 hours, but they’ll taste even better after a few more days.
Along the same lines, there are kits for growing your own microgreens and mushrooms. The microgreens grow on a handy little germination pad with its own plastic tray by Product of Nature™. It takes about two weeks to get a full harvest of mustard, arugula, or radish sprouts. Pearl oyster mushrooms can grow in about ten days out of the box they come in from Back to the Roots. Of course, if you don’t want to grow your own toppings, you can use store-bought pickles, lettuce, and/or tomatoes.
½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 lb. ground buffalo (bison) meat
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. or so olive oil spray
¼ cup goat cheese
6 multigrain hamburger buns
homemade pickles, homegrown microgreens, or homegrown mushrooms for topping (or store-bought pickles, lettuce, and/or tomatoes and mushrooms)
1. Pulse the cranberries together with the breadcrumbs in a food processor or blender until the mixture is coarse, about 1–2 minutes.
2. Mix the cran-breadcrumbs into the ground buffalo meat along with the egg, garlic salt, and vinegar. Shape into 6 patties.
3. Spray each patty with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat (or broil under high heat on a broiler pan) for at least 5 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook another 5–8 minutes, or until they are brown throughout (no pink in the middle).
4. Spread each patty with a tablespoon or so of goat cheese. Slide onto buns and top with homemade pickles, homegrown sprouts, and/or homegrown mushrooms (or other toppings) as desired.