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Low-fat food need not be flavorless fare


If you celebrated the long holiday weekend by overindulging, you're probably looking for some low-fat summer meals to help "balance out" the calories and fat.

That could mean a week of dry and dusty punishment food. Or, if you're clever with spices and seasonings, it could mean delicious fare that keeps the coals glowing into the coming week. For starters, try turkey burgers. The folks from Shady Brook note the average American consumes 5 pounds of fat each year from hamburgers alone.

By replacing ground beef with ground turkey breast, you can reduce your yearly fat intake by 4 1/2 pounds! (That's 2057 grams of fat, or 18,514 calories from fat per year.)

When you're buying ground meat products of any kind, it's important to note that they taste especially good because they contain a lot of fat.

Extra lean ground beef, for instance, is 82 percent lean by weight. That means it's 18 percent fat by weight and contains 5 grams of fat per ounce. So a 3-ounce burger contains 15 grams of fat.

Regular "ground turkey" is also a mixture. It contains both white and dark meat, and sometimes skin and fat as well. Total fat will be about 2 grams per ounce, for a total of 6 grams of fat for a 3-ounce burger. "Ground turkey breast" has less than one gram of fat per ounce.

But eliminating fat eliminates flavor. That's where clever seasoning comes in. Tom and Kathy Grant love low-fat food. Kathy is a registered dietitian who specializes in cholesterol-lowering. Tom, a great cook, concocted the following recipe. Kathy provided the nutritional analysis.

Tom's Honey Dijon Turkey Burgers

1/2 pound ground turkey breast

2 tablespoons honey Dijon barbecue sauce

3 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

2 tablespoons chopped raw onions

One egg white or 1/8 cup fat-free egg substitute

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Form into 3 patties. Barbecue 5 minutes on each side over medium-hot coals. Brush each side with honey Dijon barbecue sauce. Nutrition information per burger: 131 calories; 1.1 grams fat; 0.3 grams saturated fat; 47 milligrams cholesterol.

To keep your fiber up, serve your burgers on whole wheat English muffins. Pile on the dark green lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. For a twist, add colorful sweet pepper rings, thin shavings of carrot and a pile of sprouts.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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