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Pam LeBlanc: Just say ‘no’ to diets

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Don’t challenge Pam LeBlanc to an eating contest.

The Statesman’s fitness and travel writer burns more calories in a day than just about anyone else in the newsroom. In additon to a 14-mile round trip commute to the office, she’s always on the move, no matter if it’s running, paddling, yoga, swimming or her twice-a-week morning water-skiing sesssion.

After I wrote this mindful eating story earlier this year, she and I got to talking about our shared no-diet philosophy and how it also pertains to leading an active life, one that isn’t filled with counting calories burned on an elliptical in order to reward yourself with a piece of cake later.

Pam frequently co-writes this car review column called Pete & Pam, so I asked if she’d want to do a similar one with me about food and fitness. She agreed, and for the past few weeks, we’ve been having a virtual conversation about having a healthy attitude about healthy eating and living for this story that ran in today’s food section.

Late last month, we got together to cook a meal that represents this approach: don’t-fear-the-fat bison beef avocado burgers with sauteed vegetables. Pam doesn’t fancy herself a cook, but she was in charge of (and did a great job with) the veggies, while I oversaw the burgers, whose recipe you’ll find below.

The following week, Pam and her husband, Chris, took me out on one of their morning water-skiing sessions and blogged about it for Fit City.

Bison Beef Burgers

A thick, juicy hamburger isn’t always what a body on the go craves, but every once in a while it’s exactly what you need after a long bicycle commute home.

I’m not one of those cyclists, but I do appreciate cheeseburgers more when I haven’t had one in a while. The LeBlancs usually stick to beef hamburgers, but my neighbor Mary Beth recommended freshly ground bison from Central Market for a leaner, even more flavorful patty. I ended up with a combination of both.

The bison costs $9.99 a pound, but when mixed with ground beef and some chopped aromatics, it makes for a dang good hamburger. Capped with Tillamook Cheddar, avocado, lettuce and tomato, this is the burger of my dreams after a day packed with physical activity.

When Pam and I made these last week, she was in charge of the side dish. She sliced up all kinds of vegetables from our combined crisper drawers and sauteed them in a small amount of vegetable broth instead of oil. With very little salt or added seasoning, the clean taste of produce was a nice balance to our savory protein-centric main dish.

1 lb. ground bison 1/2 lb. (80/20) ground chuck

1 Tbsp. minced garlic 2 Tbsp. chopped white or yellow onion, plus more for sliced garnish Generous salt and pepper, to taste Buns, tomato, lettuce, avocado, mayonnaise, ketchup or other preferred garnish and condiments

Place the ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, combine until just thoroughly mixed. (Try not to overwork the meat.)

Make four or five patties and set aside. Heat a grill or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties on the heated surface and let cook for four minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook for another three to five minutes, depending on how thick you made your patties (150 degrees for medium well).

— Addie Broyles