Whether you're gluten-free, paleo, or just watching your carbs, you don’t have to give up on burgers. (And no, we’re not implying you just ditch the bun and just use a fork and knife.) It’s easy to make over your bun game—using sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and more—while also amping up the nutritional value of your meal. Women's Health has the scoop below!
There are plenty of reasons to swap your regular store-bought seeded bun for something more creative and healthier. “Many [bun alternatives] are lower in calories, gluten-free, and, most importantly, enhance your intake of vegetables and fiber,” says Vandana R. Sheth, R.D.N. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not to mention, they’re a good source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Ready to spice up your next barbecue? These five options will make you want to banish buns from your plate.
1. Sweet potato: Three words: sweet potato toast. This recent Instagram trend also makes a darn good burger bun. “It adds another dimension of flavor to the burger,” says Kelsey Preciado, the blogger behind Little Bits Of. “It’s also firm enough to hold up a patty but soft enough to chew through.” The perfect example? Preciado’s Greek Stuffed Turkey Burgers. She recommends slicing the largest sweet potato you can find into quarter-inch slices. Then toast them on high for two to three rounds in your toaster oven.
>> Read more: Sweet Potato Grits With Chicken Sausage
2. Lettuce: Making the leap from lettuce cups to lettuce-wrapped burgers is a no brainer. “A lettuce wrap works well for a juicier burger packed with avocado and sauce as it will catch a lot of the drippings,” which is why Preciado swapped in lettuce for her California Tuna Burgers. Just place the burger patty on the thickest part of the leaf and fold around it. “You can go with the classic iceberg lettuce for a regular burger or mix it up with an Asian-style burger and use green cabbage as a wrap,” she says. Another option? Hearty leafy greens like collard greens, says Sheth.
>> Read more: Asian Turkey Lettuce Wrap
3. Eggplant: The texture and flavor of these purple veggies makes it a surprisingly good substitute for bread. Not only that, eggplant packs an extra nutritional bang. “Eggplant is a good source of fiber, thiamine, and copper. It has a variety of antioxidants and its dark purple skin helps fight damage in the brain,” says Meme Inge, R.D. and owner of Living Well Kitchen. Just lightly grill or roast the eggplant slices before adding your burger or sandwich fixings.
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