Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Many of us grew up during the 80's where this Wendy's slogan became very popular.  Wendy's competitors sold large buns, lots of condiments but didn't deliver on big juicy 100% beef patties like the Wendy's chain.

I am asking this question, [Where's the Beef?] because many of us have removed beef from our diets because we were told red meat was bad.  It has probably been close to a decade since I've bought or prepared beef in any form.   I have replaced ground beef with ground turkey.  I do enjoy an 'occasional' burger from time to time.  I probably eat 4-5 burgers a year, if that.  Lately I've been really studying nutritional facts on some of my favorite foods.  This is what I've realized after studying the fact.  

 I could have kept eating my hamburgers. 

Don't write me off just yet, let me finish....

My eyes were first opened a year or so ago when I stumbled across an Eat this Not That article on  The 37 Worst Restaurant Dinners in America. 

Wait. What? Did the Eat This Not That Guy just say this Turkey Avocado burger had more calories that two McDonald's Double Cheeseburgers? Wow, I can't believe that I was so naive. The reality is that most of the ground turkey we eat isn't 100% white meat/turkey breast.  Most of the burgers that we purchase pre-made, or that we order at restaurants are made of turkey.  BUT they also contain lost of other not-so-healthy things that cause them to skyrocket in calories/and or fat. White meat turkey, dark meat turkey, turkey skin, 'natural flavors', salt, fat, etc can all be added to your wholesome turkey burger to make it taste good.  When it comes to our healthy replacement foods, most of us don't actually read labels.  We assume that since it's not beef, pork or mystery meat, it's got to be good for you and lower in calories.  Here's another article citing The Worst Burgers in America. (Ruby Tuesday's is on the list again).

Look at these three pre-packaged Turkey Burger brands:
Butterball Fresh Seasoned Turkey Burger Patties
Ingredients: Turkey, Less than 2% of Salt, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavorings
180 cals/10 g Fat/21 g protein

Jennie-O Lean Turkey Burger Patties 
Ingredients: hmmmm didn't see the Ingredient list on the website
180 cals/10 g Fat/21 g protein

Turkey Bubba Burger
Ingredients: White Turkey, Kosher Salt, Natural Flavor, Black Pepper
160 cals/5 g Fat/25 g protein

As you can see the Turkey Burger that was made with white meat had 1/2 the fat of the other two brands.  These are the type of burgers we can purchase from the refrigerator case at our local grocery store.  These totals aren't really that bad.  I didn't do any in depth comparisons but I think it's safe to say that these choices are better than the frozen or refrigerated beef patties.  And please don't buy those el cheapo 70/30 and 80/20 ground beef value packs just because you can get a mound of meat for less than ten bucks.  And less be know that 70/30 meat shrivels to the size of an Oreo cookie once all the fat cooks out of it.   (BTW those numbers represent the lean to fat ratio in your ground meat, in case you didn't know). 

So, let's imagine the calories and fat that are in the 'food service' type patties/buns that we eat at restaurant chains...

I checked out a couple of my favorite restaurant's turkey burger vs beef burger nutritional information.  I was astounded with what I found.  The turkey burgers were running neck in neck with the beef burgers in calories, fat, sodium and carbs.  In some cases the turkey burgers were higher in those areas.  Even if the turkey burgers had less calories, they still ranged from 700-1,000 calories on average.  Um, that's too much for a 'sammich' that I don't even really like that much anyhow.  *These comparisons were based on the restaurant nutritional data that factored: patty, bun, condiments etc.

 NOW, please take note.  I am not a nutritionist nor am I a medical professional.  I absolutely AM NOT telling you to stop eating ground turkey and go back to red meat.  What I am telling you to do is your research.  I don't have any health issues that have require that I don't consume red meat.  If you're like me, I never really fell in love with turkey burgers.  They just don't 'do it' for me like a beef hamburger.  I made the switch because I assumed that I'd be saving 100s of calories and lots of fat grams.  This isn't always the case.  Because of my findings I've decided that I'll allow myself a beef burger from time to time.   HOWEVER it is still wise to watch my red meat consumption.

See the article below from the American Heart Association Website:

Choosing healthier protein-rich foods instead of red and processed meats may reduce heart disease risk in women  

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