Very practical, greedy, tasty and versatile in the kitchen, hamburgers they also meet the difficult tastes of children managing to get everyone in the family to agree. A boom, that of beef burgers, which has stimulated the imagination and creativity of many producers in an attempt to expand the range of offers more and more. So, next to the classical of beef, soy burgers for vegetarians and chicken and turkey burgers, the very tasty burgers of pig, those equally greedy of Ham, the delicate ones of fish, up to the super-technological vegetable burgers. The offer is wide, here you will find the tips to guide you in choosing the healthiest hamburger when you go shopping at the supermarket.
Beef burger: see where it comes from
Among the super stalls we find many types of beef burgers, similar in appearance but different in composition and price. Which one to choose? First of all let's check the percentage of meat, the finest ingredient. It can range from 100% to a minimum that does not normally drop below 70%. What about the rest? A little salt is almost always there (and it is better if it is iodized), but often there is also added water, of some "binding" element, such as i potato flakes, bread crumbs or different types of fibers (citrus fruits, bamboo ...), and of "Aromas" not always identifiablei.
The first rule? The more meat there is, the simpler the label, and the better. Also, where does the meat come from? It is important to know why the meat of the country is on average better and more controlled than that coming from non-EU countries such as Brazil (we are the major European importers of Brazilian meat). Unfortunately, however, while we find the origin on fresh meat, the law allows it to be omitted if it is meat to which other ingredients have been added: just a little salt is enough and the hamburger loses its passport and becomes simply " beef". If possible, we choose the burgers that also declare the origin of the meat, best of the country and with the indicated breed: the Piedmontese Fassona and Chianina toscana they are excellent while among the meats not from the country it is excellent Irish Black Angus.
What about the nutrition label? It is the fats that make the difference: if on the one hand they make the hamburger tasty and soft, on the other they weigh on the calorie count. At the super we can find a succulent Black Angus burger with 20% fat and more than 250 calories per pound, alongside a lean burger with less than 4% fat and 120 calories per pound. Which one to choose? It depends on the tastes and the relationship with the scale. For all, however, the rule of always take a look at the salt content: the less there is, the healthier the hamburger.
Pork burgers: they must be cooked with care
Definitely tasty, pork burgers also deserve attention for their nutritional characteristics. The pink meat of the pig provides high-quality proteins such as those of beef, is rich in iron and reveals itself better in the quality of its fats which, thanks to modern farming techniques, are richer in good fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) than in the past.
An important attention concerns the cooking: all burgers should be well cooked, but for pork ones the rule becomes a must, It is forbidden to cook them "rare". Without forgetting that, like pork, a tasty alternative is hamburgers baked ham. Designed for children, they boast digestibility, softness and a delicate flavor.
Chicken, turkey and rabbit burgers: if you prefer lightness to taste
White meats are particularly nice to nutritionists: they are leaner than red and more digestible, for the fineness of their fibers. By virtue of these characteristics, the hamburgers of chicken, turkey or rabbit give an average of 130 calories per pound against an average of 200 calories for beef and 190 calories for pork.
It's no small difference, but it must be said that the leanness of the meats makes these burgers less tasty and succulent of their cousins. For this reason, alongside the burgers, there are more appetizing alternatives such as croquettes, nuggets and other specialties, always based on chicken and turkey. But beware: they don't always match the quality of burgers. Unlike these, which are made with minced meat, croquettes and nuggets are often prepared with "mechanically separated meat"(Always read the label), obtained by squeezing the carcasses of animals, to obtain a pulp to be used as meat, after having deprived it of the pieces of crushed bone. This "flesh", which has the appearance of a pink paste, is the basic ingredient of many "specialty" alternatives to burgers. It is not harmful, but the thought of a "squeezed chicken" doesn't make you water.
Fish burger: a mine of good fats
They are the cooking version of fish tartare, proposed in the round shape of the hamburger and with the addition of ingredients, such as potato starch, to give more consistency to the dough and keep it together. THE burger in salmon are the most common, along with those of cod, but there is no lack of tuna, of swordfish and sea bass. What changes is not only the flavor but also the nutritional profile: if 100 g of salmon or tuna burger give from 170 to 220 calories, those of cod or sea bass 140-150 calories per hectogram.
Speaking of fish, it should be remembered that its fats are mostly unsaturated, with an excellent presence of Omega 3 which overshadows calories: if we want to reduce fat, we sacrifice other foods, but not fish. All the more so with children who do not like it: the hamburger is not only a good way to propose it, but also gives the peace of mind of not having to worry about the bones.
Veggie burgers: if you are looking for a vegetarian alternative
Once upon a time there were no alternatives: don't you eat meat? Forget the taste and smell of burgers. At the most try those of soy, if you like their texture, or turn on traditional falafel or legume and vegetable burgers. Now things have changed: 100% vegetable burgers capable of deceiving anyone: color, appearance, smell, taste, consistency are the same as beef burgers: they sizzle in the pan and even release the "blood".
Based on legumes, these products provide the soy proteins, peas, lupins & Co., made fibrous like those of muscles, while the "vegetable blood" is made up of leghemoglobin, a protein similar to blood hemoglobin and muscle myoglobin, obtained from the roots of some vegetable. The texture and realistic flavor of the meat "lookalike" burgers is also due to yeast and beet extracts, soy lecithin and fiber and vegetable fats. These can be as many, and unhealthy, as the saturated fats ofcoconut oil.
No difference between fresh and frozen burgers
On the level of taste and nutritional value between fresh and frozen burgers there is no difference. The choice is only one a matter of convenience: fresh, if you intend to eat them within a few days, frozen if you want to have a supply that is always ready.
Without forgetting, however, that the burgers they can also be done at home with a little good minced meat, salt enough and the aromas we like best. Just mix everything well, press the dough into the special mold and in a few minutes you will find a hamburger "tailored" for our tastes.
Packaging increasingly avant-garde
From day to day the also evolves packaging technology. The vacuum packing to keep burgers longer and extend their shelf life in the refrigerator up to 15 days. Equally effective is the conservation in modified atmosphere, trays where the air is replaced with a mixture of gas (mostly nitrogen and carbon dioxide) that they avoid oxidation and slow down the development of microbes.
Today, however, we can count on a third solution, that of "skin packaging”: The hamburgers are placed on a cardboard or plastic base, and everything is covered with a plastic film which, when heated, retracts, wrapping the hamburger like a sort of skin and sealing the package hermetically. Perfectly adhering to the plastic film, the hamburger remains firmly on the tray, does not release moisture or water and retains all its flavor and nutritional value.