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Healthy burgers

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

When you think 'healthy', a burger is not the first thing that comes to mind. That's because great burgers often start with fatty ground beef. All that fat keeps the burgers juicy and flavourful as they grill. And then of course, there is the temptation to pile on toppings and condiments, such as heaps of melting cheese and thick spreads of mayonnaise.

But here is a delicious burger that also happens to be healthy. To keep our burger lean, we went with a 95 per cent lean ground beef. You also could go for ground turkey, chicken or pork, but read the packages carefully; many ground meats aren't as lean as you might think they are.

Since we removed most of the fat from our burger's meat, we needed to add moisture. We did this by incorporating vegetables. I know, groan! Vegetables don't belong in burgers.

But really, this is a vegetable you would have put on the burger anyway, caramelised onions. They add tons of flavour, moisture, and virtually no calories. You also can make the onions well in advance so they're all ready to go when you want to make burgers. They even freeze well if you want to make a giant batch.

To top off the burger, we skipped the cheese and went with a quick home-made barbecue sauce. Best of all, you can make the sauce right on the grill; just bring a little saucepan out with you and do all the cooking in the same spot. You'll want to make the sauce first so that you know it's ready to go when the burgers are.

Start to finish: 30 minutes.

1tbs honey

1tbs tomato paste

1tsp Dijon mustard

3tbs apple cider vinegar

1tbs soy sauce

4 whole-grain burger buns

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium, heat olive oil. Add onions and sauté until deep brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. If the skillet gets too dry, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water as needed. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and allow to cool.

Heat grill to medium-high.

Mix cooled onions, ground beef, salt and black pepper. Form patties, pressing a slight indent into the center of each.

In a small saucepan, combine cumin, cayenne and smoked paprika. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, honey, tomato paste, mustard, cider vinegar and soy sauce. Bring everything out to the grill.

Combine and heat on the grill. Stir until fragrant and toasted, about one minute.

Add tomato-honey mixture to the spices and stir until simmering, about five minutes. Use caution; the handle of the saucepan will get very hot. Move saucepan to back of the grill or off to the side.

Add burgers to the grill and cook for four to six minutes per side for medium-well. Spoon sauce over burgers, and serve on multigrain or whole-wheat buns.