By Trish Coffman

Craving a burger after a grueling training ride? We have some suggestions for creating a tasty burger that’s both satisfying and healthy.

We admit it: After a particularly punishing training ride, what we sometimes crave most is a thick, juicy burger. There’s definitely something satisfying about that specific combination of protein, carbs and, yes, fat. If you’re in the same camp, then check out our suggestions for putting together a burger that’s both filling and good for you.

Think about what’s in your meat – Shop for meat that’s labeled as having no animal byproducts in the animal’s feed, no added hormones, no growth-enhancing drugs and no antibiotics.

Think beyond beef – Turkey, salmon and tuna all contain loads of protein and other nutrients. Homemade veggie burgers can hit the spot, too (try making patties with combination of chickpeas, spinach, spices, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice, pulsed together in a food processor with a couple eggs to bind it all together).

Think DIY – There can be safety concerns associated with ground beef from the supermarket, so if you’re into the DIY thing, try grinding your own. Buy a chuck roast from your butcher and cut it into cubes, then, using the pulse setting of a food processor, grind in small batches.

Think whole – Whole-grain bun, that is. Whole-grain options are more available than ever before, so experiment to find a favorite.

Think flavorful toppings – Cheddar cheese is classic, but it’s also got more fat than other cheeses. Opt instead for these lower-and-healthier fat or full-flavor choices:

  • Goat cheese
  • Smoked mozzarella
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Homemade yogurt sauce (an easy mix of chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, spices and S&P – a good stand-in for mayo).
  • Mustard (there are scads of varieties beyond plain yellow)
  • Hummus

Think fresh – Pile on the veggies. There’s nothing wrong with standard lettuce and tomato, but try scanning the produce aisle to find something new you can make burger-ready: sliced radishes, caramelized onions, grilled slices of eggplant, roasted poblano peppers, sprouts, shredded cabbage, even sprigs of fresh herbs, like cilantro.

Think small – Keep your portions reasonable, and you can have your burger and maintain your mountain-biking physique. Sliders served with a heaping plate of salad or grilled vegetables will fill your belly and help you fulfill your racing dreams.