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Chef Robert Irvine makes the healthiest burger in the world

I don’t really believe there’s much you can do to substitute for beef. The rich taste, the fat, the way it fills you up—healthy options don’t really replicate that, especially if you’re talking about steak. Burgers, though, are somewhat of a different story. The enjoyment of eating a burger isn’t tied to the kind of protein in the center of the bun. The bun itself and the toppings can often overshadow what’s in the middle. With that in mind, puttanesca tuna burgers are rich, flavorful, and don’t pack even a fraction of the fat that comes with a typical 80-20 burger. All burgers can help you build muscle, but this burger can get you lean, too.

YOU’LL NEED

FOR THE PATTIES:
3 1/2 pounds fresh raw tuna
3 tablespoons capers, minced
3 tablespoons raisins, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 tablespoons black olives, minced
3 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
non-stick cooking spray

FOR THE BURGERS:
8 slices red onion, grilled
1 cup roasted red peppers
8 tablespoons pesto
8 whole wheat hamburger rolls

MAKE IT (Makes 8 Servings)
1. Dice the raw tuna and put it in a food processor and roughly mince it, about 15 seconds. This will allow the tuna to be molded, but it should not be pureed.
2. Remove from the food processor and place in a chilled mixing bowl. Mix all other patty ingredients in with the tuna by hand. Season with salt and pepper, then portion into seven-ounce patties.
3. Preheat the grill to 350 degrees and spray each side of the patties with non-stick cooking spray.
4. Place the patties on the grill and cook for four minutes on each side; this will yield a medium (pink) center.
Toast buns on the grill for one minute (if desired) then spread 1 tablespoon of pesto inside of each bun. Place patties on the buns, top with red onion and red peppers.

Chef Irvine’s Healthy Grilling Tips
1. For a healthier grilling experience, try to go “bottleless.” This means no bottled seasonings, high-sodium marinades or sugary sauces.  Instead, create a fresh citrus marinade with lemons, limes, oranges, vinegars, fresh herbs and grape seed oil.
2. Always remember that grill heat is more intense and less manageable than indoor heating equipment, which makes temperature regulation more challenging.  It’s important to make sure you are working with well-marinated foods and have an understanding of how the protein your working with responds to high grilling temperatures.
3. Anyone who has ever grilled experiences having a meat (or veggie) go up in a cloud of smoke and flame once they put it on the grill, and there’s no use trying to get it off the grill because it has officially welded itself to the grates and wont budge. Charring happens when fat and flame meet. Foods with higher fat content (ribeyes, chicken with the skin on, or veggies with too much oil) typically flare up on the grill. The solution is to regulate the distance of these items from the flame. Place these items around the exterior of the heat source, or if you have an adjustable coal grate, set it on a lower setting further away from the grill grates. Also, watch how much oil (also a fat) you are rubbing on your meats or veggies. You can also use an oil with a higher smoke point, like grape seed oil to avoid flare ups. Should you find yourself in a situation where your dinner is up in flames, just calm them down with a little spritz of water from a spray bottle.
4. Sticking is just a natural part of the caramelization process and shouldn’t become a cause for concern or even something to try to avoid. Whatever you do, DO NOT TRY TO SCRAPE OR PULL YOUR MEAT OFF THE GRILL! Once the caramelization process is complete, the meat should release itself from the grill with little-to-no effort. Knowing how to regulate your heat source will allow this process to happen without overcooking your meat. You can limit the amount of sticking by making sure that your grill is properly preheated, cleaned, and that your food is not overly-sugary from marinades.
5. Lastly, remember to stay hydrated! Not only is hydration incredibly important in the hot summer climate when you’ve got the grill going and the sun is boiling down on you, but a stomach full of ice cold water will help you with portion control when its finally time to sit down and enjoy your food.

Chef Irvine’s new book of healthy recipes, Fit Fuel: A Chef’s Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life, will debut August 1.

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