By Lesley Young
Warmer weather means at least one blessed time-saver: more BBQ! Like many busy households, our taste-testing family of six (including kids aged 10, eight, five and one), relies on the grilling fave, prepared burgers, once a week in the spring and summer months. A no-fuss, speedy crowd pleaser, store-bought frozen burgers are a handy dinner staple — with two caveats, says Brandon, Man AAA-based dietitian Susan Cadman. Many varieties contain high overall fat content — as much as 37 grams of fat in one case! — and more than the daily recommended adult allowance of sodium (1,500 mg). Serving sizes are also significantly larger than Health Canada’s new meat serving size of 75 grams. Cadman’s advice: Look for no more than 4 grams of saturated fat (the less total fat the better) and less than 400 mg of sodium (admittedly difficult to find). Here’s the lowdown on some of the more nutritious prepared-burger options.
A+ – THE BIG HIT
Jane’s Chicken Burgers (unbreaded)
130 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 20 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate (0 g fibre, 2 g sugars), 710 mg sodium per 113 g patty. $10 for box of eight.
“Mmm, these are good!” proclaims the eight-year-old. This high-protein, low-fat chicken burger was by far the favourite of the bunch, with the five-year-old giving kudos directly to mom, “Very good, excellent work mom!” The 10-year-old said they are a good size for anyone who is really hungry because they’re big. Although Dad adds that they would be better with more seasoning. The verdict: healthy and delicious.
A – BEST IN BEEF
Licks Kids Homeburger
160 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 14 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates
(0 g fibre; 0 g sugars), 280 mg sodium per 76 g patty. $7 for box of eight.
The small patty size is ideal for kids and mom says, “It was really good.” This family of spice lovers also appreciated the heat factor, but mom pointed out that it might turn off some kids.
The verdict: definitely worth trying.
B- – THE RIGHT CHOICE
Yves Veggie Burger
110 calories, 4 g fat (0.3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 14 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre; 1 g sugars), 440 mg sodium per 75 g patty. Excellent source of vitamin B12; good source
of niacin, zinc and riboflavin. $3 for two.
Funnily enough, this very healthy veggie burger was a dud with the grown-ups. Dad Scott and mom Jeanne really didn’t like the taste (descriptors included “gross” and “nasty”). For the most part, however, the kids were fans, with the most negative comment being “It’s OK.” great for kids and healthy too. Parents may want to add extra condiments to up the flavour and nosh down for nutrition’s sake.
C – KIND OF SQUISHY
Master’s Choice Lifesmart Burgers with Omega-3
290 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0.4 g trans fat), 26 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates
(3 g fibre; 0 g sugars), 550 mg sodium per 142 g patty. $9 for box of eight.
The texture of this burger — “too squishy and soft” — didn’t appeal to the whole family, with the exception of the five- and eight-year-olds, who liked it. The consensus on taste: “kinda weird.” Dad says, “It almost tastes like a fish burger or something.” The verdict: While the addition of heart-friendly omega-3s may sound appealing, it didn’t pass the taste test, not to mention the fat content is a little on the high side.