Yes there can be a healthy burger

look! no cheese!

Is there such a thing as a healthy burger?”  The Today Show asks this critical question and predictably trots out a selection of outrageously oversized cheesy concoctions to exclaim over.  The host starts the hand wringing with the observation that all burgers are “loaded with salt and calories”.  False.  So much for journalism.

Of course there are healthy burgers.  Typically they aren’t the size of dinner plates and aren’t overloaded with cheese, bacon and mayonnaise sauce.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, or even a nutrition scientist, to understand that.  Portion size, toppings and side dishes all make or break your healthy burger.

My favorite place at the moment to find a healthy burger is Smash Burger, currently available in more than a dozen states.  I love the motto: Something for everyone.  “Men, women, men who eat like women, women who eat like men.” You can choose from 2 sizes of burger patty, and add your own choices for toppings, bun and sauces.  A healthy burger would include:

  • the small size burger patty (1/3 lb)
  • multigrain bun
  • avocado
  • ketchup, mustard
  • any of the veggie toppings you want, or can fit: lettuce, tomato, grilled or red onion, pickle, jalapenos
  • Instead of french fries, order Veggie Frites.

Now that’s a healthy burger meal.  If you prefer chicken, the Classic Smash (grilled) Chicken sandwich is a good option, or put your own combination together.  For salads, the Harvest, with grilled chicken, is good.  If you don’t have a local Smash Burger, you can probably find similar burger options at your local restaurants.  The problem with burgers are usually caused by:

  • Excessively large portion sizes: do you need 1 lb of meat?  No.  Nor do you need a stack of 3 patties on one bun.
  • Cheese: cheeseburgers do taste great, but cheese adds more fat and calories to your burger.  You can control the amount when you’re cooking at home, but not usually at a restaurant, unless you just ask for ‘no cheese’.  Note: my healthy burger above does not have cheese.  It does have avocado, which adds richness with healthy fats.
  • Mayonnaise-based sauces: just adding more calories.
  • The side dishes: french fries and soda pop are the typical burger side dishes, adding calories, sugar and salt, with almost nothing in the way of nutritional value.  The best potato side is a baked potato, but most dieters don’t need that anyway.  Burgers should be accompanied by vegetables: salad or something like the Veggie Frites.  Very few fast food restaurants give you that option yet.  If I could wave a Magic Wand and decree one change to our national restaurant menu, it would be a vegetable alternative to french fries.  What’s wrong with giving customers a choice?  Smash Burger figured it out.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Black Shack on Lex, Donna Feldman MS RD. Donna Feldman MS RD said: Yes there are #HealthyBurgers. Put one together at #SmashBurger. #TodayShow #diets […]

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