After last week’s blog on how to reduce the harmful effects of barbequing meats we’ve had lots of comments and questions as to how to incorporate all the advice. So I thought I’d share with you my favourite barbie recipe for burgers which includes all the tricks to protect the meat. I shouldn’t really be endorsing burgers, but if you are going to eat them anyway (as we do) you may as well make them as healthy as they can be and work on counteracting some of the damage.
To be honest I have my partner to thank for this recipe. He has been on a personal quest to make the perfect burger for some years now. I think his hours of watching man vs food spurred this obsession. Each attempt has always tasted far better than any shop bought equivalent, but this summer he has achieved his goal and what’s more they contain all the protective ingredients we talked about and he had no idea. He was purely interested in taste regardless of the nutritional properties so it’s a win-win in our house.
Specific ingredients such as turmeric, thyme, onions, garlic and oregano have an amazing protective action against the chemicals produced when cooking meat. Significantly reducing these chemicals by being clever with herbs, olive oil and especially dark beer transforms a very unhealthy, carcinogenic meal to one that can be relatively guilt-free.
Fat dripping onto hot coals dramatically increases carcinogens on meats so if barbecuing, get the coals hot then spread them in a circle and cook the meat in the middle. If using a griddle pan, coat it with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the burgers sticking.
Flip the burgers every 60 seconds which has been shown to reduce charring and so reduces nasty chemicals forming. Try not to overcook the burgers. It’s the black, burnt bits that are most dangerous.
No burger is complete without a bun and an array of condiments. I have toyed with the idea of healthier bun alternatives but substituting bread for raw Portobello mushrooms or lettuce leaf wraps just doesn’t do it for me so I compromise by using wholemeal baps or gluten free seeded ones which keeps the traditional taste but eliminates refined, heavily processed buns.
I love to load my burgers with ketchup (sugary yes, but also bursting with lycopene which helps protect from carcinogens in the meat) raw red onion slices (also very protective), rocket to help my liver deal with the meal and fresh tomatoes for even more lycopene.
And for a healthy accompaniment try sweet potato ‘fries’ (they’re actually baked) or our vegetable crisps which add another serving of protective nutrients and make the whole plate really colourful.
We hope you love these burgers as much as we do. Let us know how you get on in the comments below or on our facebook page and don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive more recipes, nutrition tips and expert advice.