This story is in partnership with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions related to how delicious burgers are … are my own.

When you come across a package of Ground Beef patties in the meat case, what comes to mind? If you’re like most of us, you think of a crave-worthy source of high-quality protein that serves as a staple at summer cookouts. But those beef burger patties are so much more.

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee scientific report recently pointed out that burgers and sandwiches are the number three source of protein in the American diet. This presents an opportunity for real beef burgers to be the perfect vehicle for increasing conscious consumption of fruits and vegetables! The pairing of beef and produce is a natural one: think steak and onions, steak salad, veggie-rich chili. Why should the beef burger be left out of the produce-pairing fun?!

Adding lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles is a perfectly acceptable way to beef up your burger with produce, but the possibilities for customization are seemingly endless when you broaden your horizons to include sweet summer fruits. Whichever way you beef up your burger with produce, topping it off with reduced-fat dairy on a whole grain bun makes for a wholesome, nutrient-rich meal that’s sure to satisfy. Here, some foolproof salads and salsas make it easy to have a plant with your burger:

Simply put, summer calls for watermelon. Pair it up with cucumber, feta, and fresh mint and serve alongside or on top of your burger for a perfectly sweet and savory meal.

Looking for a new way to enjoy the abundance of sweet, ripe peaches this summer? Top your beef burger with this twist on the Caprese salad, and mix things up with melty reduced-fat mozzarella on a whole grain ciabatta roll.

Feeling tropical? Try this pineapple-mango salsa that delivers just the right amount of heat. Pair it with reduced-fat Monterey jack cheese and a Hawaiian roll. Bring out even more sweetness by preparing the salsa as a spreadable chutney.

What better way to beef up your burger this grilling season – and have a plant or two while doing so!

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