Nothing screams summertime like firing up the grill. And nothing could be more ridiculous that putting all of the contents from the grill onto one burger. When I first saw the ad for Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr’s “Most American Thickburger”, I thought I was watching a commercial from Saturday Night Live.

The whole concept is intentionally so over the top that it’s hilarious: a half pound burger with a grilled hotdog, Lay’s potato chips and, of course, American cheese eaten by a model with fireworks behind her. How could this not be a joke? It’s for real folks, and you can get it today for a mere 1030 calories.

You tell us – would you try the Thickburger? My brother-in-law said he’d do it… if it was past midnight… and he wasn’t sober. I respect his ambition, but I can’t get past the absurdity of the whole thing. I will credit the creators of that monster meal for inspiring me to write this post though.

See below for a few ideas for twists on the real American favorite: the classic burger. To really turn these into healthier meals, eat them open-faced or swap the bun for a wrap of butter lettuce as shown in the picture below.

Bean Burger

photo credit Ambitious Kitchen

1) Jalapeno Chickpea and Lentil Burger

Not just for vegetarians, this flavor-packed burger is totally delicious. Ambitious Kitchen says these are freezer ready, so make a triple batch and enjoy for weeks to come. Also, don’t hesitate to make the mango pico on its own.

photo credit Once Upon A Cutting Board

photo credit Once Upon A Cutting Board

2) Apple Turkey Burger with Caramelized Onions and Brie

I am a sucker for anything with brie cheese. This can be made with ground turkey breast for a leaner alternative which gets mixed before grilling with grated apple, mustard and fresh herbs.

Tuna Burger

photo credit Can You Stay for Dinner

3) Lemon Garlic Tuna Burger

This is an amazing summer lunch option! It’s such a nice take on a simple, often forgotten budget pantry staple: the can of tuna. This modest protein is packed with protein and B vitamins and even omega 3. Serve with lemon wedges for an extra kick.

Enjoy your summer!

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