x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

This week's healthy recipe: the burger

The much maligned burger need not be an unhealthy choice.

The Burger King Whopper provides

670 calories

51g carbs

40g fat

28g protein

Source: http://www.bk.com/en/us/menu-nutrition/index.html

In truth, we all know that burgers from fast food restaurants aren't good for us. Perhaps many of us don't realise quite how unhealthy they really are though: a McDonalds Big Mac, for example, contains 540 calories and 29g of fat, while a Burger King Whopper notches up 670 calories and a worrying 40g of fat. And that's before the portion of fries and sugary drink have come into the equation.

Unless it is the extremely lean variety (unlikely to be used in a burger) minced beef contains high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which are strongly linked to heart disease. Recent research suggests that people who eat red meat frequently are more likely to suffer from colon cancer; this is particularly relevant for those of us living in the UAE, where consumption levels are high.

The recipe below is tasty enough to satisfy burger cravings, yet doesn't resort to using beef. This lentil and carrot based option is hearty and filling, with a hint of spice and a wholesome, nutty texture. Lentils are a fantastic healthy food; they are relatively cheap, high in protein, low in fat and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. These burgers are cooked in a minimal amount of oil and are filling enough to be eaten on their own, without a bun. If you need a bit of bread with your burger though, opt for the wholemeal variety. Pile high with tomatoes, onion, avocado, lettuce and the like, but avoid slathering on the mayo or adding a slice of cheese.

Healthier burger

175g brown or green lentils

2 tsp groundnut oil

3 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

11/2 teaspoons ground cumin

11/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 onion, peeled and chopped

50g walnuts, roughly chopped

1 egg

75g wholemeal breadcrumbs

Place the lentils in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a frying pan. Add the carrots and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrot is soft and slightly golden. Sprinkle over the cumin and coriander and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Tip the cooked lentils into a food processor, add the onion and walnuts and blend to a course puree.

In a large bowl lightly whisk the egg, then add the lentil mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs. Stir well to combine and season with salt and black pepper.

Using slightly damp hands, shape the mixture into four round patties, about 5cm thick. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Place a non stick frying pan over a medium heat. Lightly brush both sides of the burgers with the remaining oil and cook for 6-8 minutes on each side, before serving with healthy accompaniments.