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Few things are more synonymous with summertime than the sound of burgers sizzling on the grill. As good as they taste, they’re also a great source of high-quality protein for athletes. But you’ll never impress your backyard guests by being as creative as serving up patties with a slick of Heinz. Instead, consider burgers a blank canvas and ready to welcome a range of more flavorful and nutritious toppings. Drop that ketchup bottle and try these inspiring burger toppings.
Bread Winner: For many people, burgers aren’t complete without stuffing them between a bun. But a doughy white bun is far from nutritionally ideal. To make your burgers work harder for you, consider choosing Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Burger Buns from Food for Life. Each bun contains a powerful mix of sprouted whole grains like wheat, barley and millet to bring you an impressive 9 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber. It’s thought that the sprouting process makes grains more nutrient dense and easier to digest.
Take a cue from food trucks and turn to this Korean condiment to make your burgers smokin’ hot. Kimchi is made by fermenting cabbage—and sometimes other vegetables—with a garlic chili seasoning into spicy, salty, sweet and sour goodness. During fermentation it becomes populated by friendly bugs known as probiotics that may work to improve digestive and immune health. A study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports suggests that probiotics could help shield athletes from upper respiratory tract infections. And recent research shows that including kimchi in your diet may zap any stubborn abdominal fat by altering fat metabolism in your favor. With kimchi’s rise in popularity on this side of the Pacific, it’s becoming easier to find the funky condiment on store shelves. One great brand to watch out for is Wildbrine, which offers kimchi in Korean, Thai and Japanese flavor profiles.
Not just a dip for chips, creamy guacamole is a standout topping for burgers. Thanks to its main player, avocado, gauc is laced with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. A 2016 Journal of Clinical Lipidiology found that avocado consumption can improve cholesterol numbers. It’s also this healthful fat that can make your backyard burgers more filling so you’re less likely to feel the need for an extra wide slice of pie. Scoop flesh of two avocados into a mixing bowl and mash into a chunky paste. Fold in 1/4 cup minced red onion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, juice of 1/2 lime, 1/2 minced jalapeno and a couple pinches salt.
Forget the mayo, thick and tangy Greek yogurt is a smarter burger condiment. Add dollops onto your flame-licked patties and you’ll benefit from an extra dose of muscle-building protein along with bone-friendly calcium and those friendly critters known as probiotics. The great thing about using Greek yogurt as a burger sauce is that you can infuse it with all sorts of flavorings like chili sauce, citrus zest, diced sun-dried tomatoes, prepared horseradish or curry powder. Of course, you’ll want to only use plain flavored yogurt.
To add a little crunch to your burgers, you can do much better than a handful of greasy potato chips. Made by dehydrating the superfood known as kale, crunchy kale chips provide a nutritional bounty including vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber and health-spiking antioxidants. For an inspiring crunch-burger, try applying a smear of Dijon mustard on a burger patty and top with sliced tomato (or salsa) and a handful of kale chips. You can source out kale chips such as Rhythm Superfoods at many health food stores and even some larger supermarkets.
Slices of tomato are a classic, if not a little ho-hum, burger topping. Why not take things up a notch by piling on fiery salsa? Do so and you’ll benefit from consuming some capsaicin, a compound that lends chili peppers their kick and is shown to bolster metabolism. Another reason why salsa can hurt so good: Harvard scientists discovered that consuming spicy foods more often can help you enjoy more birthdays by lowering the risk of death from diseases like cancer. When shopping for a salsa to adorn your burgers with, opt for a brand like Rojos that includes an ingredient list of recognizable ingredients including tomatoes, onion and peppers. And if you want to get more of a health benefit, go with hotter versions that include more chili punch.
For fresh, lively flavor, consider smearing pesto onto your burgers. This will give you some oleocanthal, a compound found in extra virgin olive oil that has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. There is also a hefty dose of antioxidants found in pesto greens like basil. For a prepared pesto that goes the extra mile, consider purchasing Three Bridges Superfood Pesto Sauce which blends in kale for a nutritional bonus. Or whip up a bunch of your own pest. Place 3 cups arugula, ½ cup basil or mint, ⅓ cup walnuts or ¼ cup hemp seeds, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor and blend until greens are pulverized. With the machine running, pour in ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil and juice of ½ lemon through the feed tube until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.