Is there anything more satisfying than biting into a juicy cheeseburger to satisfy your hunger? Cheeseburgers are a staple American food: the quintessential summer grill-out item and an entrée you can get at just about any sit-down eatery. They’re so delicious and iconic that September 18th has even been designated National Cheeseburger Day!
But despite their popularity, there’s a huge problem with cheeseburgers: they just don’t fit into most modern diets these days! The rise of vegetarian, vegan, and keto diets, as well as gluten-free and dairy-free eating habits have all but condemned the cheeseburger. As a result, cheeseburgers have become a forbidden food: something you want to eat, but know you shouldn’t.
Fear not: just because you’re eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to nix cheeseburgers from your list of favorite foods. There are plenty of options for modifying your meal to make it much friendlier to your diet preferences and much healthier for your body.
Reinvent your burger
The best way to keep enjoying burgers is to reinvent them around your diet. If you’re on the keto diet, for example, you’ll want to eliminate the carbs (bun) and maximize your protein and fats (meat and cheese). For vegetarians, explore different burger types (bean or mushroom) and play around with toppings to get a great flavor profile. Don’t see your diet as a barrier against enjoying a tasty burger: see it as an opportunity to build the perfect burger! You can add or subtract ingredients based on your tastes or diet, or even nuke the whole concept and rebuild your burger from scratch.
Here are a few tips:
- Drop the buns: For carnivores who enjoy a meaty burger, dropping the bun is a great way to make your cheeseburger a little healthier. This is also a quick solution for celiac and gluten-sensitive people! Grill up your patties normally, slap on some cheese, garnish with lettuce and tomato, and forget the bun. You’ll immediately shave off tons of calories, while still getting the protein and great taste you love.
- Change up your cheese: Who says your cheeseburger has to be topped with American cheese? There are many reduced-fat cheeses that go great on burgers, like cheddar and Swiss. Even low-fat mozzarella and crumbly feta are great burger cheeses when cooked right into the patties themselves. These cheeses are marginally healthier than classic American or full-fat cheeses and will give you explosive flavor that can actually kick your burger up a notch. Feeling really exotic? Give goat cheese a try.
- Redefine your burger’s meat:The classic burger is a ground beef patty, but that’s not always in-line with today’s dieting habits. These days people are taking another look at red meat and deciding to eat differently. If you crave a burger but aren’t eating red meat, consider a few alternatives. Black bean burgers are a classic veggie-friendly option, while ground turkey burgers make a great substitute for meat-friendly diets. Ever had a grilled portabella burger? It’s a vegan’s dream.There are tons of imitation burgers and plant-based options to try that won’t leave you disappointed.
These are just three ways to get the full burger experience, without violating your diet or feeling bad about your decision afterwards. There are tons of other adjustments you can make to put a twist on the classic burger:
- Use better grades of meat, such as grass-fed beef or bison.
- Choose healthier toppings like avocado or arugula.
- Eat smaller portions or make sliders instead of jumbo burgers.
- Use natural ingredients instead of packaged ones.
Bite into the best burger
If you’re a burger lover and want to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day without kicking your diet to the curb, consider making a few modifications to the classic burger concept. There are tons of recipes and suggestions for keto-, paleo-, vegetarian-, gluten-free-, and vegan-friendly burgers online, as well as simple changes you can make without depriving yourself of flavor. Find one that you can make your own. Take a few of these tips and run with them—you’re bound to create a burger that’s worthy of celebration!