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Make a Perfect Burger

Celebrate the Fourth of July with your favorite main dish, plus super sides and dessert

Falafel Burger Plate

Try one of the many healthy alternatives to beef burgers this summer. — StockFood/Getty Images

Spicy Black Bean Burgers by Sally Sampson

These vegetarian burgers add some Southwestern flair to your Fourth of July menu. Try them served with guacamole and salsa rather than ketchup and mustard.

Once you've chosen your protein patty of choice, you're ready to explore a smorgasbord of healthier dishes to round out a Fourth of July menu.

Grilled Bread With Olive Oil, Garlic and Tomato by Marcella Hazan

This recipe for authentic Italian bruschetta makes a perfect appetizer for a sit-down meal outdoors and a welcome addition to a buffet spread, tastiest hot off the grill.

Mango Grilled Chicken by Steven Raichlen

This healthy alternative to barbecued or fried chicken marinates chicken breasts in a refreshing salsa that includes mango, cucumber, red onion, garlic and lime juice. You'll feel like you're on vacation with this tropical marinade.

Cabbage and Carrot Slaw by Margaret Howard

This mayonnaise-free coleslaw significantly cuts down on fat and calories, and it travels well as potluck fare.

Marinated Tomatoes by Julie Sullivan

All you need is good-quality seasonal tomatoes, fresh basil, and a little olive oil and vinegar to make this incredible dish, which should be marinated for at least 12 hours before serving.

Herb Deviled Eggs by Sara Foster

This picnic classic takes well to variations, such as topping the eggs with pickled okra, cornichons or capers.

Caponata by Judith Finlayson

This make-ahead eggplant antipasto spread is divine on crusty bread, or try it as a topping for burgers or a dip for crudités.

Cutting back on calories doesn't have to mean skipping dessert! These lighter choices still provide plenty of indulgence.

Espresso Granita by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner

While the kids enjoy vanilla ice cream during the firework display, grownups can sup on this luxurious and low-calorie iced treat.

Lemon-Roasted Fruit by Margaret Howard

This inventive recipe for luscious roasted pineapple will wow guests, and it can be made ahead for easy serving. Try it atop the angel food cake, below.

Perfect Angel Food Cake by Barbara Selley

As an alternative to butter-laden pie crusts or dense ice creams, a light-as-air angel food cake is a breezy ending to a light Fourth of July menu. Top with fresh sliced strawberries and blueberries for a patriotic finish.

You may also like: 6 tips for baking the best summer fruit pies. >>

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