Burgers with a Boost
by Missy Chase Lapine
Every once in a while, life calls for a big, juicy burger. And today is one of those days. But for a busy parents, burgers can be both a blessing and a curse: they're quick, easy, and delicious, but they're also high and fat and low in veggie value. So boost your burgers with a healthy but hidden dose of spinach and blueberries - they'll never know the difference, and you'll be able to eat your burger with the blissful enjoyment of a job well done.
1 large egg
1/4 cup Purple Puree (see Make-Ahead recipe, below)
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs*
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
8 to 10 American cheese slices (optional)
8 to 10 hamburger buns or English muffins (preferably whole grain)
Pickle slices and ketchup to garnish
In a large bowl, mix egg, Purple Puree, ketchup, salt, and bread crumbs. Then add the meat, mixing with hands until well combined. If too sticky, add a few more bread crumbs.
Using damp hands, shape mixture into 8 to 10 patties that are fairly thin. At this point, the burgers may be prepared a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. If you are not freezing for future use, proceed to next steps.
Spray a large skillet or grill pan with nonstick cooking spray and set over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook the burgers for 3 minutes on each side then flip and add cheese (optional) to melt over patties for another 3 minutes.
Serve on fresh, soft burger buns or English muffins, with ketchup and pickles.
*Whole wheat crumbs can be found in natural and organic food stores, but you can easily make your own by pulsing whole grain bread in a food processor to achieve fine crumbs. It's that simple. Three slices of bread yield about one cup of fresh crumbs. They keep for months in a sealed bag in the freezer.
Purple Puree Make-Ahead Recipe:
3 cups raw baby spinach leaves (or 2 cups frozen chopped spinach, or frozen chopped collard greens)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no syrup or sugar added)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoons water
If using raw spinach, thoroughly wash it, even if the package says “prewashed.” Bring spinach or collards and water to boil in a medium pot. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. If using frozen blueberries, quickly rinse them under cold water to thaw a little, and then drain.
Fill the bowl of your food processor with the blueberries and cooked spinach, (or collards) along with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water, and puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push top contents to bottom. If necessary, use a second tablespoon of water to make a fairly smooth puree.
This amount of spinach and blueberries makes only about 1 cup of puree. Double the recipe if you want to store another cup of the puree. It will store in the refrigerator up to 2 days, or you can freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.
Missy Chase Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine. A mother of two young daughters, she knows how picky kids can be—and she’s got the kitchen experiments to prove it! She is on the Culinary Arts facility of The New School, in New York City, and also gives cooking classes and coaching to busy families hoping to learn how to eat healthier. Her book, The Sneaky Chef, is published by Running Press. Her next book The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) will be out in April 2008. You can learn more about Missy at her website, www.thesneakychef.com