Burger Tips, Hints & Hacks for Summer Grill Outs

When blessed with warm weather and three-day weekends, we grill burgers . . .I only wish there were more of the latter!  So, it’s no surprise that this Memorial Day, I will be rounding the family and some dear friends to partake in the worship of sunshine and flame-kissed, juicy burgers with all of the fixings.

Hamburger Party and Burger Bar Ideas

In honor of National Hamburger Month which occurs every May, I put together a tutorial on How to Make a Better Burger Bar for Beef Loving Texans (please check it out)!  I touch on the meat of that post here and add some new burger hacks and helpful hints here to take your burgerlicious summer cookout to the next level.

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Beaches, Bikinis & Coconut Bacon Burgers w/ Grilled Pineapple

In my perfect world, I’m living on a remote tropical island with every creature comfort including Wi-Fi, a fully-loaded gym and well-stocked market to easily procure ingredients for all my recipe creations — like this wave-making Coconut Bacon Burger with Grilled Pineapple.

Coconut Bacon Burger with Grilled Pineapple Let me just hit the highlights here so I can get back to my dream — gorgeous prime ground chuck, the signature flavor and scent of coconut, pineapple carmalized  to maximize deliciousness, soft sweet onion buns  — oh and bacon,  from a slab of thick hardwood smoked pig.  Coconut Bacon Burgers with Grilled Pineapple


jennifer fisher yoga beachSo, do I have your attention?! I know what you’re thinking, I can’t inhale a burger and then hit the beach in bathing suit. Oh, yes you can! First of all, let me tell you one thing, eating burgers in bikini — it’s so freeing, soon you’ll loose all your inhibitions. Second, it can get hot grilling on the beach, so you’d be wearing a bathing suit anyway! And third, really-actually-trust-me, a burger is NOT a bad food choice — indeed, it’s quite balanced. Here’s why:


hamburger patty hack

Quick Tip: Use a peanut butter jar lid to shape your patties!

If you start with a quarter-pound of ground beef, you’ll end up with a 3-ounce cooked patty which offers about 25g protein for just 213 calories for an 80/20 grind (of course your bun and topping selections add more). But this 25g is the optimal amount of protein to eat at one meal to keep you satisfied and binge snacking on carby snacks later. ** Note, I realize my recipe is for a larger burger than just described, but hey, i’m still on this mental vacation where anything goes. Feel free to scale your patty down.

protein challenge badgeInterested in learning more about what protein can do to help you on your health and fitness journey? Why not join me on a free 30 Day Protein Challenge with lots of tips, motivation and recipes.

So on to the Coconut Bacon Burger with Grilled Pineapple I originally created for BeefLovingTexans.com! Mahalo, my friends!


coconut burger feet

Coconut Bacon Burger with Grilled Pineapple Recipe

  • ½ pound thick-sliced hardwood smoked bacon
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (preferably 80/20 grind)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (divided)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 slices cored pineapple, preferably fresh
  • 4 sweet Hawaiian or onion rolls, split
  • ¼ cup store-bought Coconut Butter (sometimes called “Coconut Manna”)
  • 1 teaspoon minced basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • Lettuce
  1. Cook bacon to desired level of crispness in large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer to paper towels to drain excess grease.

  2. Form beef into 4 equal-sized 6-oz. patties. Use finger to make slight indention in the center of each patty to prevent puffing up on the grill. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Spread all but 1 tablespoon of the unsweetened coconut in shallow dish. Roll sides of burger patty through coconut, patting on if necessary.

  4. Head grill to 400F degrees and grill burgers and pineapple rings for approximately 4 minutes before flipping and cooking an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Burgers will be ready to take off grill when internal temperature measures 155 F degrees. Transfer burgers and pineapple to platter to rest for 5 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile use a spatula to mix together coconut butter, remaining 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, red pepper flakes and basil together in small bowl. Set aside.

  6. Toast split buns, cut side down, on grill for 2 to 3 minutes.

  7. To serve, spread toasted bun with coconut spread and add lettuce, patty, pineapple and bacon.

What is your favorite tropical flavor? Going to the beach this summer? What is your favorite island? Have you ever run a marathon on a tropical island — which one, I’m thinking of signing up for one. Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

4 Ways to Eat a Black Bean Burger #OMGardein + Giveaway

Chipotle Black Bean Burger with Southwestern Zoodles
Black bean burgers are the bomb! Especially the Chipotle Black Bean Burgers from Gardein, with their spicy, smoky southwest flavor. I could think of a million ways to serve these plant-based patties and today I’m sharing 4 Ways to Eat a Black Bean Burger. Since these alternative burgers come four to a pouch,  you can enjoy something different with each one! And, the patties cook straight from frozen in minutes, so even on the busiest nights, you’ll can eat a healthy dinner at home instead of heading to the drive-through. Keep reading to get the recipes and to enter my giveaway for a $25 Visa Gift Card so that you can buy and try Gardein for yourself — plus there’s a $1 off coupon for everyone!

4 Ways to Eat a Black Bean Burger - make your next meal easy and healthy thanks to these plant-based patties from Gardein. #spon

I’ve always found meatless products from Gardein to be a quick and convenient way to create a plant-based meal, especially as a busy home cook who doesn’t have tons time to fuss with finding quality and adequate sources of plant-based protein – I can count on Gardein to help me out with this.

Chipotle Black Bean BurgerJust so you know, I am an eater of chicken, beef, seafood in addition to lots of plant-based proteins – I crave variety in my diet! Variety in colors, flavors and types of foods – I think it’s one of the best ways to ensure that I’m treating myself to a wholesome abundance of nutrients. Covering all the bases for my body, so to speak!

Making a meal featuring plant-based proteins is something that happens a couple times a week at my house – but when we have vegetarian and vegan relatives visiting, it’s more frequent.

Gardein products are good for your body, made with non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies. You get the taste, texture and protein content of meat for typically less fat, less calories and no cholesterol. And, Gardein products are all vegan and kosher.

Chipotle Black Bean & Spicy Zoodles Burger (pictured above)

Prepare black bean burger according to preferred method on package. Use spiralizer to cut ½ zucchini. Season with salt, chili pepper and cumin; steam in microwave-safe dish for approximately 1 minute or until tender but not mushy. Add prepared zoodles and patty to bun and add condiments of choice. Serves 1.

Chipotle Black Bean Burger with Southwestern Mushroom-Squash TossChipotle Bean Burger & Southwestern Mushroom-Squash Toss

  • 2 Chipotle Black Bean Burger Patties
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium summer squash or zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • ½ pint button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, cumin, chili powder

Prepare black bean burgers according to preferred method on package. In medium skillet, add olive oil and bring to medium heat. Sauté squash, mushrooms and tomatoes for approximately 2 minutes, or until softened, but not mushy. Season with salt, cumin and chili powder. Divide veggies among two bowls and top each with a patty. Serves 2.

 Black Bean Burger, Hummus and Spinach Stack - GardeinChipotle Black Bean Burger, White Hummus & Spinach Stack

  • 1 Chipotle Black Bean Burger Patty
  • ¼ cup packaged white bean hummus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup packed fresh baby spinach
  • Garnish: pine nut relish from top of hummus or chopped nuts of choice

Prepare black bean burger according to preferred method on package. In small skillet, heat olive oil and sauté garlic and spinach for 1 to 2 minutes or until wilted. Top patty with hummus and spinach. Add garnish. Serves 1.

Gardein Black Bean Taco Bake for One Chipotle Black Bean Taco Bake for One

  • 1 Chipotle Black Bean Burger Patty
  • 2 tablespoons frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomato
  • ¼ cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese
  • Garnish with sour cream or Greek yogurt, if desired

Prepare black bean burger according to preferred method on package. Break cooked patty into small pieces. In small baking dish or large ramekin, toss together cooked burger pieces, corn, salsa and tomato until combined. Stir in crushed tortilla chips. Top with cheddar cheese and broil for 2 to 3 minute or until warmed through and cheese bubbling on top. Serves 1.

Gardein Meatless Pepperoni Pizza Pocket

I also love the Gardein Meatless Pepperoni Pizza Pocket (a new product) that is perfect for my lunch-on-the-go or those busy weeknights when kids have overlapping sports practices and I am literally feeding them in the car.  I really appreciate how easy they are to make (kids can do them in the toaster oven) and they have 42% less fat than traditional pizza pockets.

You need to try these products for yourself  — help keep life quick, easy and healthy! Head over to Gardein and get a $1 coupon now until May 31, 2016!! #OMGardein

Win a $25 Visa Gift Card at TheFitFork.comEnter my giveaway for a $25 Visa Gift Card so that you can buy Gardein and some fresh produce to make a healthy, plant-based dinner on me! Follow the Rafflecopter instuctions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hula-la-la! Pineapple Smoothie & Sweet Hawaiian Beef Burgers

If you’re tired and stressed out, a good drink might put you in a better state of body and mind. One sip of this Pineapple Express Smoothie and you’ll be whisked away via taste buds to a tropical island resort — can’t you just see yourself relaxing in a hammock with nothing to do all day except listen to the sound of the waves roll across the beach?

pineapple banana tea smoothie

The recipe is simple, just blend 6 ounce chilled green tea and 4 ounces pineapple juice with 1/2 frozen banana and 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks. Add liquid Stevia drops and ice, as desired. The paper umbrella is mandatory!

So, if all that loafing around on your imaginary vacation has worked up your appetite, may I interest you in a burger? It is National Hamburger Month, after all! Sure, you could do a “burger” made with chicken, turkey, salmon or even beans – but nothing compares to the meaty satisfaction and siren song sizzle of a real beef burger.

Not that I don’t love all the lean proteins just mentioned (because I do), but when I’m ready to fire up the grill and haul out the buns, this girl wants her hamburger a cut above! Pick your jaw off the ground (you’ll need it for drooling over the recipe later), I’m here to share the news that a beef hamburger now, then and again is actually good for you – lean ground beef is an excellent source of protein, iron, b vitamins, zinc with only about 150 calories and less than 10g fat (depending on cut and cooking method) per 3-ounce serving. You could opt for super lean 95% ground beef for your burger, but I think that grind makes ‘em a bit dry. I often use an 80 – 85% ground chuck for burgers and ensure that I’m allowing the extra fat to melt and drain off.  Sources say that after the fat is cooked off, the beef actually becomes about 10 – 15% leaner (so now the 80% is at least 90% lean, make sense?) and the burger is much more tender.

Beef Buger on Jalapeno Bun

Now, I’m pretty famous in my family for taking my burger bunless, naked in all its God-given glory. Or, sometimes I’ll dress up my burger with everything BUT a bun– check out my recipe for Hot Mess Hatch Green Chile Burgers on Calabaza Squash “Buns.” That being said, I never turn down one of my Dad’s homemade Jalapeno Cheddar Buns or burgers served on a “sweet” bun – like the King’s Sweet Hawaiian Rolls used in the recipe for Mini Hawaiian Burgers from my friends at Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.

beef burger pineapple slidersWith summer on my mind and grilling season firing up, I knew this yummy, kid-friendly, island-inspired recipe for Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers would be perfect for a cooking demonstration I put on last night for a group of families and their elementary-aged children. This particular slider-sized burger was a huge hit, and I wasn’t at all surprised that all but one of my audience members embraced their burger with the lettuce, pineapple, sauce and all! Of course, I had just talked up “trying new things” and “eating an abundance of fruits and veggies”!


Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers Recipe


  • 1 pound lean Ground Beef
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 canned pineapple slices, drained
  • 12 Hawaiian sweet or small whole wheat dinner rolls, split
  • Lettuce


  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple preserves
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  1. Combine ground beef and Worcestershire sauce in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into twelve 1/2-inch thick mini patties. Set aside.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients in small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  3. Place patties on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8 to 10 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, covered, 9 to 11 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F, turning occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile brush pineapple slices with sauce and place on grid around patties. Grill pineapple 4 minutes, turning once and brushing with additional sauce. Remove pineapple, keep warm. Brush burgers with remaining sauce after turning.
  5. Cut each pineapple slice into thirds. Line bottom of each roll with lettuce, top with burger, then with pineapple piece. Close sandwiches. Serves 4. Nutrition Information here.
(Recipe and photo courtesy of The Beef Checkoff www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com)