By Carolyn Malcoun , June 24, 2010 - 11:13am
I consider myself lucky to live in one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.—Vermont. One major benefit of living in the Green Mountain State is having an endless number of day hikes within an hour or so drive. My husband and I try to get out every weekend to tackle a different mountain. Inevitably, halfway down the trail we start talking about the juicy burgers and ice-cold beers we’re craving after our day out in the woods.
While it’s easy to stop by our favorite brew pub for both those things, I know I can make a healthier (and better-tasting) burger  at home. Since burgers can be high in fat and calories, I start by making them with lean meat and I keep an eye on portion size. Then I turn to these 6 tips cookbook author and meat master Bruce Aidells shared with me for making healthy burgers that taste great too. Here are his secrets.
1. Add flavor and moisture to lean burgers by incorporating other ingredients. Smoked cheese, wild rice and barbecue sauce add both to the Smoky Buffalo Burgers .
2. Don’t overwork the meat. Hand-chopping the tuna for Hanoi-Style Tuna Patty Salad  yields moist, tender results.
3. Mix seasonings into the meat. Don’t just sprinkle your formed burgers with salt and pepper. Bruce adds cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano along with salt and pepper to the “Fajita” Burgers  before shaping.
4. Adding a leaner, neutral-tasting meat like turkey to a fattier cut like lamb in Turkish Lamb Pita Burgers  reduces saturated fat and cholesterol.
5. Stud white-meat burgers with color—the Mozzarella-Stuffed Turkey Burger  is gorgeous with bright green scallions and oregano and smothered with fresh marinara sauce.
6. Get creative and use flavor combinations in your favorite ethnic foods to season burgers. Green olives, Pimentón de la Vera, saffron and Manchego cheese give the Spanish Pork Burger  flair.
What’s your favorite way to make a healthier burger packed with flavor? Tell us what you think below.