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Pork Burger with Caramelized Onions and Sweet Potato Fries--Paleo and Gluten-Free!

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

The individually plated Pork Burger Patties on Romaine Lettuce with Caramelized Onions and Sweet Potato Fries

Here’s a healthier take on your usual western fare of burger and fries!

Healthier because of the following substitutions:

  • Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes

  • Romaine lettuce instead of burger buns

  • Roasted fries instead of deep-fried fries

  • Finely shredded coconut instead of flour or breadcrumbs

I made these substitutions because I was aiming for a Paleo, gluten-free meal.

I pan-fried the burger patties. To make them healthier, you can bake them in the oven, too.

Since this isn’t a one-pot meal, it can get time-consuming to prepare. The trick is to prepare your ingredients in such a way that while other parts of the meal are cooking, you are preparing the ingredients for other parts.

First, I put the sliced onions in the pan to caramelize them. While that was going on, I sliced the sweet potatoes and then put those in the turbo broiler (I’ve mentioned before that I have no oven but if you do have one, it’s easier to use the oven.). The caramelized onions and roasted sweet potatoes take some time to cook. So, while those were cooking, I washed and soaked the lettuce leaves in vinegar and water then prepped and mixed the ingredients to make the pork burger patties.

Every now and then while preparing the burger mixture, I’d stir the onions and check on the sweet potato fries. By the time I finished preparing the burger mixture, the onions had cooked. Then, I cooked the pork burgers and during this time, the sweet potato fries got done.

When everything was done, I drained the romaine lettuce and ran it through the salad spinner to get rid of excess water.

Then, I just placed the different meal components in separate plates and bowls on the counter for people to assemble their dish the way they want. I also put out some condiments—ketchup, mustard, honey, and salt.

These are the INGREDIENTS I used:

Caramelized Onions:

  • 3 white onions

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • Himalayan pink salt

  • Black pepper, ideally freshly cracked pepper

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Himalayan pink salt

Pork Burger Patties

  • Ground pork (I think I used ¼ kg but I’m not sure. I just got the pack that was in the freezer), preferably pasture-raised or organic

  • 2 celery stalks, preferably organic

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • Himalayan pink salt

  • Black pepper, ground

  • 1 large egg, preferably free range

  • Finely shredded coconut

1 large head of Romaine lettuce


To caramelize the onions:

1. Slice onions very thinly into rings.

2. Heat oil in pan (I used coconut oil).

3. Turn down heat to lowest setting.

4. Add sliced onions to the pan and add some salt. The salt draws out moisture.

5. Let the onions cook slowly, stirring gently every now and then.

5. Cook for 10-15 minutes till onions are soft and golden brown.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The baked sweet potato fries are really easy to make:

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C (400 F).

2. Slice the sweet potatoes into long strips around 1/4 inch thick.

3. Coat the fries with olive oil or coconut oil and season with salt.

4. Lay them out in a roasting or baking pan. Ideally, lay them out in a single layer. I used a turbo broiler since I don't have an oven. So, I couldn't really fit all the sweet potato fries into the round baking plate in one layer. If this is the case for you, you might need to flip the fries so that the ones underneath can come on top of the pile.

5. Roast the fries for about 10 - 20 minutes till the fries are cooked through. Just regularly check if they're cooked. They will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

For the burger patties, I used what I had in the freezer: Ground pork.

1. Mince 3-4 garlic cloves and 2 stalks of celery.

2. Add the following to the ground pork:

  • 1 large egg

  • The minced garlic and celery

  • Seasonings of your preference. I simply used salt and pepper. Some suggestions: cumin, paprika, onion, ginger.

  • Shredded coconut left over from making coconut milk. You can of course use bread crumbs or flour. I was aiming for a Paleo gluten-free meal so I used finely shredded coconut.

3. Mix the burger ingredients thoroughly. Here's a tip I got from a friend and great cook, Raymond Guinto: Mix in one direction only.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil (maybe a bit more) in the pan on medium high heat.

5. Get a small handful of the burger mixture and form into a ball. Then, flatten into a patty.

6. Cook the burgers around 4 - 5 minutes each side until they are cooked thoroughly.

Instead of burger buns, I used romaine lettuce.

To prepare the lettuce:

1. Separate the lettuce leaves.

2. In a large bowl, place a splash of white vinegar and add enough water to submerge the lettuce leaves.

3. Soak the lettuce leaves in the vinegar and water solution and agitate for 30 seconds. Leave the leaves in the solution to soak.

4. When you are about to prepare the entire meal, drain the water and vinegar solution very well. Use a salad spinner, if you have one, to get rid of excess water. Soggy salad leaves are not very nice to eat.

Instead of plating each meal individually, just lay out all the meal components on the counter and have your family or guest assemble their own meal. Don't forget to put out condiments!

I prepared salt, ketchup, mustard and honey. The honey is in case someone wants to make a honey mustard dip or dressing

Today’s Takeaway:

If you want to enjoy your usual ‘sinful’ fare, simply learn where you can make healthy substitutions so that you end up with a healthy version. Then, you can indeed have your cake and eat it, too!

Let me know your thoughts on this dish in the comments below! Do you have other ideas on how to make this meal even healthier? I'd love to hear from you!


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