When I was a little kid (a chubby little kid, to be specific), I used to think a burger was just a greasy beef patty between a smushy white bun that usually came out of a little box with a toy and some french fries. Sometimes it even had a yellow piece of “cheese” (I use that word lightly) and some ketchup if you were lucky.Oh, how much I have learned since then. Burgers are now one of my favorite meals because they are so versatile and allow you to play with flavors, ingredients and toppings. Plus, they can be pretty healthy if you stick with veggie, chicken, or turkey burgers. This one was a great twist on buffalo chicken, with plenty of hot sauce, cool yogurt-blue cheese sauce, and a crisp carrot-celery slaw all on a whole grain bun. That’s a happier meal if I do say so myself.
There were a few different components to prepare for this meal, but they come together so well that the effort was worth it. First I made the slaw with carrots, onion, celery, cilantro, vinegar, and honey and let that slawify for a while. Then I put together the burgers, which got their flavor and moisture from grated carrot, celery, onion, and hot sauce. Then I whipped up the blue cheese dressing, which was just greek yogurt with blue cheese chunks, lemon juice, and spices. Once you put it all together is when the magic happens…the slaw is crunch and slightly sweet, the blue-cheese sauce is tangy and cool, and the burgers are spicy and hearty.
Instead of fries or chips, I served the burgers with a big summer chopped salad, packed with awesome ingredients like tomatoes, chickpeas, basil, avocado, and charred corn. The key is the charred corn. So good.
Nutritional Highlights: Buffalo chicken can get a bad rep…usually fried chicken, a creamy high-fat dressing, and a sauce that’s actually butter with a splash of hot sauce. This version preserves the flavors but without all that fat. I used lean ground chicken breast, non-fat greek yogurt as the base for the sauce, and a butter free buffalo sauce. Since a serving of meat is only 3 ounces, try to keep the burgers to about 1/4 (4 oz) to 1/3 (5 oz) pound each to keep the portion in control. Also, always choose a whole wheat bun or just go naked if you’re watching your carbs (the burger, not you). Enjoy!
Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Blue Cheese-Yogurt Sauce and Carrot-Celery Slaw
For the Burgers (makes 3-4):
• 1 pounds ground chicken breast (turkey would work too, no one will know)
• 2 tablespoons finely grated carrots
• 1 tablespoon finely grated celery
• 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
• 1/8 to 1/4 cup buffalo hot sauce (depending on how hot you like it), plus a little on the side to baste with
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 3 or 4 whole wheat buns
• Serve with carrot-celery slaw and yogurt-blue cheese sauce (recipe to follow)
1. Mix the chicken, grated carrot, celery, onion, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper and form into 4 patties.
2. Heat your grill to medium high, and oil or spray the grill. Grill your patties, about 4-5 minutes per side, painting with more hot sauce when they’re almost done. Serve the buffalo chicken burgers in the buns along with the slaw and blue cheese sauce.
For the Carrot-Celery Slaw:
• 3 large carrots, roughly grated or cut into matchsticks
• 3 celery stalks cut into matchsticks
• ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
• 3 tablespoons vinegar (I used rice vinegar but other types should work too, but not balsamic)
• 2 teaspoons honey
• Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Combine vinegar and honey. Add the rest of the ingredients and taste (add more vinegar if it needs more acidity, more honey if it needs sweetness). Refrigerate, stirring occasionally for a few hours. Serve on top of your buffalo chicken burgers.
For the Yogurt Blue-Cheese Sauce:
½ cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (very fine crumbles so the flavor is dispersed)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil (to thin it slightly)
Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste
Directions: Combine all ingredients. Stir. Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. Put it on your burgers and enjoy!