Spring is here and the smell of grilling is in the air! Char-grilled hamburgers are an American staple, but will not help you stay on track to your fitness goals.  Here are three options you can supplement from time to time to satisfy those culinary cravings without adding to your waistline.  NOTE: Even we love a good old fashioned hamburger from time to time.  Choose grass-fed beef, sprouted-grain or gluten free buns (substitute leaf lettuce for a grain-free option), skip the Mayo and limit the cheese when you do decide to splurge!  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

Serves: 12


  • 2 cups mashed sweet potato (~2 large sweet potatoes – organic when possible)
  • 1 cup cooked salted black beans, rinsed and well drained (if unsalted, add more salt to the burgers)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice* (or sub cooked quinoa with varied results)
  • 1/2 cup walnut, almond or pecan meal (or very finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green onion
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional)


  • Sliced avocado
  • Sprouts, lettuce or parsley
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced tomato
  • Mustard


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cut sweet potatoes in half. Rub with olive oil and place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake sweet potatoes until soft and tender to the touch – about 30 minutes – set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F.

While potatoes are baking, cook rice or quinoa (see notes for instructions).

Add black beans to a mixing bowl and mash half of them for texture. Then add sweet potato and lightly mash, then 1 cup rice, green onion, nut meal and spices. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more rice or nut meal if the mixture feels too wet. It should be very moist but moldable.

Lightly grease a baking sheet and line a 1/4 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap.

Fill the lined measuring cup with sweet potato mixture. Scrape down to pack, then lift out and transfer to the baking sheet and gently press down to mash. The thinner you press them, the faster they’ll cook, but no need to go too far. Just a gentle press will do.

Bake burgers for a total of 30-45 minutes, carefully flipping 20 minutes in to ensure even cooking. The longer you bake them the firmer and drier they will get – up to preference. Check at 35 minutes

Serve on a gluten-free bun or atop a salad with sliced avocado, red onion, greens, and salsa.

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to a few days. Freeze for longer term storage.


* To cook rice: bring 2 cups water to a boil, then add 1 cup very well-rinsed rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until fluffy and tender. You will have leftovers.
* For quinoa: rinse 1 cup quinoa and add to a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté in a bit of olive oil for 1-2 minutes, then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, or until tender and fluffy and the water is absorbed.
*Inspired by the Black Bean Burger at Beer Kitchen

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 burger pattie Calories: 172 Fat: 3.8g Carbohydrates: 30g Sugar: 1.2g Sodium: 135mg Fiber: 3.3g Protein: 4.7g

Modified from recipe found at http://minimalistbaker.com/sweet-potato-black-bean-burger/

Buffalo Chickpea Burgers

Buffalo Chickpea Burgers

Servings: Makes 15 4-inch burgers


  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed plus 6 tablespoons water) or 2 eggs
  • 3 cans chickpeas
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ¾ cup buffalo cayenne pepper type hot sauce, like Franks
  • Himalayan pink salt and ground black pepper to taste- if needed
  • sprouted wheat or gluten free buns


Mix 2 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 6 tablespoons warm water in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to make flax eggs.

Chop chickpeas, carrots, celery and cauliflower in a food processor until chunky but not pasty. It’s best to chop separately. Put into a large bowl. Slice/chop green onions and add to the bowl.

Next, add the gluten free oats, almond meal, flax eggs and buffalo wing sauce and mix well. Add salt and pepper if needed, start with a few shakes of each and taste until you get the flavor you want. Mix well with your hands to get everything mashed together well into a firm, but slightly, wet dough.

Once you get the taste you like, allow mixture to set a while so oats soak in some liquid (you can also do this after you shape into burgers). This really helps with consistency so that they are not mushy, but have a firmer bite.

Shape into 4-inch patties (you can use a burger press if you have one), then cook on stove top over medium heat in a medium-sized pan for 4-5 minutes on each side (depending on stove). Make sure to keep pan covered to help the burger cook throughout and achieve the best texture possible. This helps prevent a mushy burger. Check every few minutes to prevent burning, should be slightly browned when ready.

Allow the burgers to cool a bit to further help set them into a non-mushy consistency, then serve on lettuce for a grain-free option or buns and with toppings of choice.

Modified from recipe on http://www.veggiesdontbite.com/2015/02/02/buffalo-chickpea-burgers/

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Servings: 4


  • 4 Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1-1/2 tsp steak seasoning like Montreal Steak Grill Mates
  • 4 thick slices red onion
  • (optional) 4 oz thin sliced cheese (avoid orange colored cheese)
  • 4 thin slices tomato
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced thin
  • baby spinach
  • 4 whole wheat, sprouted or gluten-free buns, 8 pieces of lettuce in place of buns


In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, oil, rosemary, and Montreal steak seasoning. Place the mushroom caps in the bowl and toss with sauce, using a spoon to evenly coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, turning a few times.

Heat the grill or indoor grill pan over medium heat. When hot, brush the grate with oil or lightly spray the grill pan. Place the mushrooms on the grill, reserving marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until tender, brushing with marinade frequently.

Top the mushrooms with cheese during the last minute of cooking. While the mushrooms cook, grill the onions about 1 minute on each side and grill the buns until toasted.

To finish, place the spinach and grilled Portobello mushrooms on the buns and top with the grilled onions, sliced tomato and avocado.

  • Size: 1 loaded burger  • Points +: 8 pts • Smart Points: 6
    Calories: 295 • Fat: 13 g • Carb: 31 g • Fiber: 11 g • Protein: 21 g • Sugar: 6 g
    Sodium: 594 mg (without salt) • Cholest: 0 mg

Modified from recipe at http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/07/the-best-grilled-portobello-mushroom.html