What makes a burger paleo? When you’re starting on paleo, you ditch the bun and call it a day. As you progress through your journey, you become more and more aware of the fine tuning you can make to any diet to make it ring paleo through and through. I’m approaching 3 years on the paleo diet and making a burger after a workout is just a bit different than a few years ago. Yes, there are different degrees of paleo. One friend compares it to religion. You have your orthodox and you have your progressive. I call it modern day caveman vs. hardcore caveman. I like to do my best to be hardcore, but in all honesty, you can’t get away from the modern conveniences. Let’s break down the burger and find out where the differences are. Let’s picture your standard home made gourmet burger because I hope to God you’re not eating at McDonalds anymore. If you are, we have even more to talk about. It’s summer time and you’re planning your Memorial Day cookout. Burgers and Dogs? Burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, mayo, a bun, right? Let’s start with the burger. You can buy ground beef anywhere, or you can grind your own. Buying ground beef, you’re buying corn fed, grain fed beef. Grains, corn are off the list on paleo, so you want to eliminate them from your food sources, too. Sure, step one of paleo, don’t eat grains, and you will see a dramatic impact on your health. But now that you’re a seasoned, paleo veteran, you’re looking for grass fed beef for your party. Let’s say you’re grinding your own meat for your burger. It’s easy to use a KitchenAid and a meat grinder attachment. It’s the best, in fact. You won’t have a better burger until you grind your own beef. Even asking your butcher to do it hours earlier makes quite a difference. Meat starts to degrade and oxidize as soon as it’s exposed to air, so grinding it last minute will hold that off as long as possible. If you find grass fed rib eye and grind it to make your burger, you’ll notice the difference. Now let’s say you grew up a butcher’s daughter or you grew up in a part of the country where pork was plentiful and worshipped, you may opt to put some ground pork in your burger mix. (Insert buzzer sound here). Please don’t eat any more pork, primarily because virtually all pigs are fed corn and soy, which really changes the makeup of your burger. That means bacon is off the list, too. Paleo isn’t carte blanche to eat bacon. Bacon is corn fed swine cured in salt and sugar. Sugar is off the list too, by the way. This means that ketchup and some mustards are off the list, too, because of high fructose corn syrup. Oh, and mayo is made with soybean oil, so look for mustard and mayo with no sugar or corn syrup and made with olive oil. Even ketchup is made with tomatoes, which is a nightshade vegetable, and off the list for me. A progressive paleo person will eat a tomato. That’s another strike against ketchup, by the way. We aren’t eating buns anymore, but we can certainly wrap our burgers in lettuce. No cheese because most cheese comes from corn fed dairy cows. If you must, eat grass fed cheese. Onions are great root vegetables. Mushrooms are fine, too. You can substitute your french fries for yam fries, no sugar, no salt, if you must. I like a clean and simple grass fed burger with a pile of greens, lemon, and a root vegetable of some sort. Today, a chilled, steamed beet was perfect.