Fire Up the Burgers! 1

Rising June temperatures create the perfect excuse to fire up the grill. Every cookout needs a great burger, and these juicy masterpieces, stuffed with cheese and peppers, will earn rave reviews! Of course, many people argue that the burger is only as good as its toppings. Since June is recognized as California Avocado Month and National Papaya Month, these two favorite fruits can be used to create creamy Avocado Salsa Verde and Spicy Papaya Mango Salsa-the perfect burger toppings!


These delicious burgers pack a flavor surprise: a creamy cheesy center! To further cut calories, replace ground beef with ground turkey, but add a shredded carrot to give the turkey added moisture. Top with your favorite condiments, and, of course, a generous portion of the salsas below!


1½ pounds ground beef or ground turkey

1 small red onion, chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

2 jalapeno peppers, diced

8 slices reduced-fat sharp cheddar (or pepper jack) cheese

4 large onion buns or rolls

Condiments (as desired)


Preheat grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, stir together beef, onion, mustard, salt and peppers. Divide mixture into 8 equal sized balls; flatten into patties. Place 2 slices of cheese on 4 of the patties; cover each with another patty, to enclose cheese. Pinch edges to seal. Grill to desired temperature, roughly 2-4 minutes per side. Toast buns on grill. Top with salsa and preferred condiments.

Yield: 4 burgers; Calories (each):265; Fat: 7g; Cost Per Serving: $1.59.


This creamy salsa gets its flavor and lovely green hue from a combination of avocados and tomatillos. While many people are inclined to call the avocado a vegetable, it is technically a fruit, and a very healthy fruit–packed with protein (4g each) and more potassium than a banana.


2 large avocados

2 large jalapeno peppers (more to taste)

6 medium tomatillos

1 small onion

¼ cup cilantro

1 clove garlic


Peel the rough outer skin off the tomatillos; rinse thoroughly. Roast tomatillos over hot grill or in oven (10-15 minutes), until vibrant dark green. Place roasted tomatillos and remaining ingredients in blender; pulse until well-combined but still chunky. Add additional jalapenos to desired heat level. Serve as a dip for chips or as a burger topping.

Yield: 3 cups; Calories (per quarter cup): 45; Cost Per Serving: $.55


This colorful, fruity salsa is the perfect topping for burgers or grilled fish. Blend half the salsa until smooth for contrasting texture. Try using the smaller, yellow Mexican Ataulfo mangos for added sweetness.


2 large papayas, peeled, pitted, diced

2 large Ataulfo mangoes, peeled, pitted, diced

1 large red pepper, diced

1 large jalapeno, diced

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1 small onion, diced

3 tablespoons lime juice

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Combine all ingredients in large bowl; stir to combine. Place half of mixture in blender; pulse until smooth. Stir together both mixtures. Chill 30 minutes; serve.

Yield: 2 cups; Calories (per ¼ cup):55; Cost Per Serving: $.43.

Suzette Zara is a cookbook author, certified nutritionist, creator of Satan’s Salsa ( and a frequent speaker on low-fat healthy cooking.