New Zealand Inspired Burger

Take the bun off the right burger and you can have quite a healthy, Paleo-appropriate meal. I was inspired to create this recipe after a veggie burger in New Zealand shifted my limited American perspective of what burgers could be. It forewent a defrosted and processed veggie patty, in favor of wholesome vegetables and sunny side up egg.

Grass fed beef allows for a higher nutrient content, with lovely marbling of the meat. I use grass fed 80/20 ground chuck, but ground round or sirloin would be quite fine. 80/20 is the tastiest burger meat but is also the most fatty. Ground sirloin is firmer and so if using, should beware of kneading too much. Ground round has a slightly gooey, softer texture. It is also feasible to mix chuck and round. Experiment to find your personal preference.

Pasture raised eggs (when truly pasture raised— not the bare minimum of what commercial farming requires for that label) are bright orange and look stunning when served on top of the patty.

I prefer to serve this burger paleo friendly, with no bun. It is beautiful served with no bun, or open faced on quality ciabatta or focaccia. The green of the avocado and sprouts contrasts beautifully with the deep red of the beets. The orange of pasture raised eggs complements.

Hummus is a great substitute for mayonnaise to keep this recipe Paleo friendly and dairy free. Along with the yolk from the egg, it adds texture and moisture. It also drips with the burger’s juices to give this recipe an appropriately decadent appeal.

Diet and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) notes:

To keep this recipe vegetarian friendly, serve with the bun but without the beef patty. For Paleo, serve without bun (or replace with lettuce wrap) but with the patty. I do not recommend this recipe as both vegetarian AND Paleo. It simply does not taste good.

This recipe is meat heavy in its Paleo form, so use with moderation. It is also grilled, which is considered high heat in TCM theory, another reason for moderation. The raw and cold vegetables in this recipe present yet another reason for moderation for patients with phlegm and deficient digestion issues. When in doubt, please consult your acupuncturist. The garam masala in the recipe counteracts some of the cold, but not enough.

Overall, this is a tasty recipe with a great share of nutrients, but too indulgent to be a staple.


Burger Patty

1 lb of beef creates about 3-4 patties

1/4th a large onion, give or take, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

A few pinches of Garam Masala

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 eggs

Optional: Substitute Worcestershire sauce (about 10 shakes) for the balsamic vinegar and garam masala. Be aware this breaks the Paleo diet.

Also optional: Minced Kale and/or beets

Put everything in a mixing bowl, knead with hands until things are mixed up uniformly, and meat is firm enough to form patties that do not crumble. Cook 2 minutes to well done each side depending on how rare/well-done you want it.


Humus on both upper/lower buns, or dolloped over patty if not serving with bun.

Raw red onion, thinly sliced and separated

1/2 Avocado per burger, finely sliced and fanned

Sprouts (clover/alfalfa/etc), well washed and rinsed

Marinated beets

Arugula drizzled with olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar to taste, and lemon juice (a personal favorite)

Sunny-side up egg. Looks cool when served on top of patty with other toppings on opposite bun or nearby

Optional: Sauerkraut for an extra boost of probiotics

Burger Bun

Paleo: Serve with no bun or replace bun with lettuce wrap.

Vegetarian: Forgo the burger patty, use high quality ciabatta, focaccia, or bread/bun of your choice. Option to lightly toast, spread with hummus, and/or drizzle with olive oil.

Dr. Diana Yang, L.Ac., DACM is the founder of Limbic Acupuncture in San Francisco. Limbic Acupuncture is the first clinic in the United States to specialize in Chinese Medicine for Internet Gaming Disorder. A former intern at Restart Life, she is a licensed acupuncturist and life coach. She is a firm believer that gamers are some of the most brilliant people in the world, and that the way to win IRL is to “Think Outside the Skinner Box.” Follow her on Facebook.