1. Asian-Inspired Tuna Burger with Wasabi Mayo
Burger-lovers looking for a leaner alternative that’s just as filling and delish, this healthy lunch idea is just for you. Made with protein- and omega-3-packed fresh tuna steak and spicy wasabi mayo, this finger-licking recipe is only 330 calories! And for the full burger lunch experience sans high calories, you can serve this sammy with a side of air fryer veggie chips.
A firm, meaty fish like tuna is prime picking for the burger treatment, and we love making tuna burgers for a protein-packed meal. All it takes is a quick pulse in the food processor or even just a bit of fine chopping. Either way, make sure the fish is very cold, which keep the proteins from binding into tough lumps. The resulting ground tuna is ready to be formed into patties and dressed up in dozens of different ways. (If tuna isn’t your fish of choice, salmon works every bit as well.)
Plus, when topped with a spicy wasabi mayo, you’ll get a burger that brings the heat in every bite. This is far from the basic burger you might be used to!
NUTRITION: 330 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 460 mg sodium
1 lb fresh tuna
4 scallions, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Canola oil, for grilling
2 Tbsp olive oil mayonnaise
1⁄2 Tbsp prepared wasabi (from powder or in premade paste)
4 whole-wheat sesame buns, split and lightly toasted
1 cup sliced cucumber, lightly salted
2 cups mixed baby greens
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Chop the tuna into 1⁄2″ cubes, then place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up (this will make grinding easier).
- Working in batches if necessary, pulse the tuna in a food processor to the consistency of ground beef. (Be sure not to overdo it; you only want to pulse it enough so that you can form patties.)
- Transfer to a mixing bowl, and mix in the scallions, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Form into four equal patties.
- Place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before grilling to firm up.
- Preheat a well-oiled grill or grill pan.
- When hot, add the patties and cook for 2 to 3 minutes a side until browned on the outside, but still medium rare in the center.
- Flip and handle carefully, as these burgers are more delicate than beef burgers.
- Mix the mayo with the wasabi, then spread evenly onto the bun tops.
- Line the bottoms with cucumber and greens, top with the burgers, then crown with the bun tops.
2. Chicken Panini With Mozzarella, Peppers, & Arugula
Keep it simple with this chicken panini recipe: A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese like fresh mozz, and a layer of lean white meat chicken deliver all the same flavor and a tasty crunch for a fraction of the calories. Using whole-grain bread will help keep you satisfied all afternoon.
Paninis began their American invasion in the late ’90s, taking over menus in big city Italian restaurants and corner cafés alike. Now they’ve spread nationwide, popping up on menus at places like Panera, Cosí, Au Bon Pain, and even Dunkin’ Donuts. Problem is, these sandwiches usually suffer from a cheese and condiment overdose, racking up caloric totals akin to a half-pound hamburger. Keep it simple with this chicken panini recipe: A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese like fresh mozz, and a layer of lean white meat chicken deliver all the same flavor and a tasty crunch for a fraction of the calories.
NUTRITION: 450 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated), 820 mg sodium
8 slices whole-grain sourdough bread
4 Tbsp homemade or prepared pesto
4 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (Fresh mozzarella is both tastier and lower in calories than regular mozz, but it’s also more expensive. Any shredded part-skim mozzarella will work as a solid substitution, but if you can, support a local farmers market and pick up some fresh.)
3⁄4 lb cooked chicken
1⁄2 cup roasted red peppers
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet or stovetop grill pan over medium heat.
- Spread 4 pieces of the bread with 1 tablespoon of the pesto each.
- Layer each piece with equal amounts of the mozzarella slices, chicken, and red peppers.
- Add a light film of olive oil to the pan; when hot, cook the sandwiches (2 at a time, if necessary) until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes each side. (For the best results, use a heavy pan to weigh down the sandwiches.)