For many people who are committed to maintaining and building a lean physique, their diet needs to be fairly clean and consistent all of the time. Sure, we all get urges from time to time, and the thought of a juicy burger for a cheat meal at the end of the week can certainly be very tempting.
Even by staying away from the typical fast-food burgers, and choosing a gourmet style restaurant burger, you’ll still be facing a high-calorie meal, usually high in sodium, fat, and lots of sugar – especially if you add sauces. Look, cheat meals are fine from time to time, but they can still hold you back from achieving optimal progress in the gym.
Don’t get me wrong; I actually think a burger is one of the best cheat meals out there. It’s usually packed with protein, offers a lot of versatility with ingredients, and is something that I think we all crave now and then. This recipe is a personal favorite of mine, switching out beef for turkey, and using a classic salsa as a low-calorie alternative to the typical sauces high in sodium and sugar, not to mention the common fillers and thickening agents like high-fructose corn syrup. This burger has none of those, and yet will still cause salivating at the mouth when you see it.
Give the recipe below a try, and you’ll soon be finding tons of ways to mix up this classic all-in-one meal. Serve on it’s own as a typical meal-replacement that won’t leave you feeling guilt-stricken over breaking your diet, or try adding in a side of mixed greens, low-carb spaghetti squash, or pair with a side of home baked sweet potato fries.
1. Peel the skin off the Portobello mushrooms, and remove the stem. Use a spoon to scoop out the grills from the underside of the mushroom cap into a large mixing bowl.
2. Chop up the shallot, onion, and garlic cloves (remove outer layer) into small pieces (use a food processor if needed), and add into the mixing bowl. Add in the salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, chili and onion powder.
3. Drain the mixed beans (from a tin is fine), and rinse of any liquid with cold water. Mash up with a spoon, but still leave some of the beans showing. It shouldn’t be a complete pulp. Add into the mixing bowl.
4. Set aside a large plate, and spread out the all-purpose flour on it. (This will be your coating for the burgers once they’re shaped). You can also mix in some herbs and spices into the coating.
5. Place a large iron skillet over the stove (a regular pan works ok, but the skillet will allow the burgers to cook with a higher heat and keep in much of the flavor and juices). Use a paper kitchen towel to rub the coconut oil all over pan, ensuring full coverage.
6. With clean hands, mix the turkey and all ingredients in the mixing bowl together well, and then separate it into 4 portions. Take 1 portion in your hands and first roll into a ball, and then flatten it down to resemble a burger patty. (It should be about 3-4 inches in diameter, and about ½ – 1/3 inch thick). Make up all 4 portions first, then turn on the heat to a medium-high until the coconut oil begins to heat up (no longer than 60 seconds).
7. Place each burger into the skillet, ensuring none are touching sides. Turn the heat down to a low/moderate, and cover with aluminum (to help retain the heat better). After 5 minutes, turn the burgers over, and piece the center with a sharp knife, to allow the inside to cook properly. Put the aluminum foil back on top, and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.
8. Cut open each of the whole-wheat burger buns and place a healthy amount of fresh parsley on the base bun (you can also use mixed salad, spinach, lettuce etc.). Once the burgers are done, place them on top of the parsley, and top with a few slices of red onion, avocado, and a tablespoon of salsa. Add the top bun and stick a cutting knife through the middle for that authentic restaurant feel.
- Extra Lean Minced Turkey [3/4lb]
- Tri-Bean Blend [1/2 Cup]
- Portobello Mushrooms 
- Shallot [2 tbsn]
- Sweet Onion [1/4]
- Garlic Cloves 
- Worcestershire Sauce [2 tbsp.]
- Whole Grain Burger Bun 
- Fresh Parsley [2 handfuls]
- Avocado [1/2]
- Salt [1/4 tsp.]
- Black Pepper [1/2 tsp.]
- Smoked Paprika [1 tsp.]
- Chili Powder [1/2 tsp.]
- Onion Powder [1/2 tsp.]
- All Purpose Flour [3 tbsn.]
- Coconut Oil [2 tbsp.]
- Salsa [4 tbsn.]
(Makes 4 servings)
For a leaner option, remove avocado, don’t add any salt, leave out the Worcestershire sauce, and replace the bun with a large lettuce leaf. Each burger will then have 180 calories, 24g protein, 12g carbohydrates, 4g fat, and only 126mg sodium.