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How to Make Your Cheeseburger Healthier

cheeseburger cheeseburger (Photo: Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock)
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Who doesn't love a drippy, juicy cheeseburger?

Unfortunately, cheeseburgers don't necessarily love us back. But you can have your burger and eat it too — with fewer calories and less risk of food-borne illness — by following these tips.

Related: Food Safety Fails

Cut some calories

Make it lean. For a lower-fat burger, skip the ground beef and use ground turkey breast instead. (Make sure the package says "breast" or you won't be getting much in the way of fat savings.) To boost the flavor, pack it with plenty of seasonings. Try this Sicilian Turkey Burger with tomato paste, basil and capers or this classic burger paired with Gruyere cheese.

Skip the bun. If you're gluten-free or watching your carbs, switch the bread for lettuce. Top your burger patty with the usual suspects like onions, tomatoes and sauce and wrap it with a large lettuce leaf. The Pioneer Woman has a low-carb burger recipe and suggests you add avocado to yours.

Go easy on the toppings. Instead of adding every sauce on the table, choose one or two to top your already-flavorful burger. Eating Well suggests skipping the ketchup (which is usually high in sodium) and adding a scoop of guacamole (yes, it's fat, but the good kind) or grilled vegetables.

Related: 8 Tips For Healthy Barbecuing

Cook it long enough to kill what might ail you

Aside from being careful when thawing the meat if you're using beef from the freezer, take care to cook your burger thoroughly. (Need extra incentive? Consumer Reports recently found that most burgers they tested contained bacteria that indicated contamination with fecal matter.)

Don't judge doneness by color. Some meat, including ground beef, is treated with gasses that help it maintain color. So burgers that have been safely cooked through still may appear pink. On the other hand, a burger that's brown on the outside might still be undercooked on the inside.

Use a meat thermometer to take the burger's temperature. According to the USDA Safe Minimum Temperature Chart you should cook ground beef to 160 degrees F and ground turkey to 165 degrees F.

After you use the thermometer, be sure to wash it so you don’t re-contaminate cooked food.

Related: Grill Safety: Read This Before Your Next BBQ

Lastly, remember to look at the expiration dates of your condiments. If that ketchup's been in the fridge for more then six months, you may want to replace it.

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