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Grill without the guilt: Healthier recipes for your backyard barbecue

Black bean turkey burger and berry salad

June marks the beginning of summer, which means school is out, the sun is hot and the boardwalk and carnival fare like funnel cakes and ice cream are making their way into our diets.

It might seem that dieting during the summer is doomed for failure; however, all you need to do is embrace the cookout season and make nutritious tweaks to your favorite backyard barbecue recipes so that you can enjoy the grill without the guilt. 

One of my favorite things to make on the grill is a black bean turkey burger. When you use 93 percent lean ground turkey, it has significantly less fat and calories than a regular 80/20 percent beef burger and almost double the protein. Also, there is a full serving of vegetables in my burgers, but you would never know. They add great flavor and I am all for sneaking in vegetables wherever I can. In the summer, I like to try stay on track with fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, peppers, tomatoes and my personal favorite, strawberries. A black bean turkey burger accompanied by a nice side summer berry salad makes an amazing and (almost) complete meal. 

I admittedly have a big sweet tooth and love dessert after dinner. However, a trip to my freezer for frozen fruit makes my summer sweet treat waistline-friendly. My blueberry ice cream, or “nice cream” as I call it, is made with frozen blueberries and Greek yogurt to mimic the creaminess of ice cream. 

Offering healthier versions of your family’s seasonal favorites is a recipe for a successful and satisfying summer. 

Black Bean Turkey Burgers

            Makes 8 servings 

            1 pound ground turkey

            1 cup black beans

            ¼ cup carrots

            ¼ cup celery

            ¼ cup green peppers

            ¼ onion

            ½ teaspoon pepper

            ½ teaspoon salt or to taste

            1 teaspoon taco seasoning (optional)          

8 sandwich thins or roll of choice 

  1. Cut up carrots, celery, peppers and onions into smaller portions and place in a food processor until finely chopped. Put chopped vegetables into a bowl and put off to the side.
  2. Add the cup of black beans into the food processor and pulse three times. Place black beans into the same bowl with the vegetables and add spices.
  3. Add the pound of turkey and mix.
  4. Roll patties into 4-ounce portions and grill or cook in a pan on medium heat for 3 minutes on each side or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.

 Summer Berry Salad 

  • Mixed Greens
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Blueberries
  • Shredded carrots
  • Tomato, diced
  • Raspberry vinaigrette

 Blueberry “Nice” Cream 

            2 cups blueberries, frozen

            ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

            ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

            1 tsp vanilla

            ¼ cup splenda (or sweetener of your choice) 

  1. Place ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

This article was written for the Courier-Post by Kayleigh Scassero, of Eastampton, a culinary arts student at Rowan College at Burlington County’s Culinary Arts Center in Mount Holly. rcbc.edu/culinary