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Better Barbecues

With summer in full swing, the invitations come flooding in for all kinds of outdoor festivities revolving around food. While these get-togethers can be fun, exciting, and entertaining, they sometimes aren’t so in line with your healthy eating goals. Still, none of us like to be ‘that guest’ who won’t eat what’s being provided. Before you turn down those invitations, think of how you can prepare yourself for the extravaganza and enjoy yourself (and the food!) while you’re there….guilt free, of course.

Think back to the last backyard gathering you attended.  Remember the spread of calorie-laden foods that were laid out in front of you to enjoy for hours on end. BBQ’s, picnics, and potlucks are centered around this never-ending buffet line of tummy-enlarging dishes. Most of us join in on the social eating frenzy and consume far more calories than we typically would on a Saturday afternoon. Others simply choose the wrong foods, which leave them hungry again in a short amount of time and unsatisfied. There’s a better way!

BYOHS: Bring Your Own Healthy Snack

You can easily come to the next outdoor event armed with your own healthy addition to that backyard spread. Think of dishes that will keep you full, provide you with the best nutrients, and stay edible in the warm summer heat. (There are also great picnic containers available that also house ice trays to keep foods within a safe temperature zone.) The truth is, most of us don’t know what to bring or what will appeal to other guests. As healthy and popular a choice as veggie trays are, they’re not your only possibility. Consider bringing a couple of items and make them filling options. They'll help you comfortably steer clear of less healthy buffet foods. Remember, you’re looking for protein, healthy fats, and fiber. All of these nutrients keep you full, stabilize your blood sugar, reduce cravings, and increase satiety. Forget the plain hot dogs and hamburgers, and blow your friends away with any of these amazing alternatives.    

Better Barbecue Choices

Grilled Organic Beef, Bison, or Turkey Burgers on Lettuce Buns or Thin Buns

Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Goat Cheese on Toothpicks

Layered Salad with Veggies, Nuts, Cheese, and a Light Dressing

Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs or Greek Yogurt Chicken Skewers with Roti and Raita

Cocktail Shrimp and Cocktail Sauce

Wild-caught Salmon Burgers on a bed of Lettuce with Bell Peppers and Mushrooms

Bell Peppers, Pita Bread, and Hummus Platter (with cheese and olives for topping)

Meat and Cheese Tray with Pickles, Mustard, and Wraps (make your own wraps)

Grilled Turkey Tenderloins with Sweet Potatoes and Squash or Brussels Sprouts

Fruit and Cheese Platter

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Slices with Cream Cheese

Grilled Avocados (brushed with avocado oil, lime juice, sea salt, and pepper)

Grilled Tilapia Loins with Zucchini

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Veggie Platter with Yogurt-Based Dip

Grilled Chicken Breast with Red Pepper Greek Yogurt Sauce and Vegetables 


Stuffed Mushrooms with Ham and Cheese

Deviled Eggs

Grilled Peppered Flank Steak and Charred Bell Peppers (brushed with avocado oil)

Sliced Cucumber, Tomato, and Mozzarella Caprese Salad

Mini Zucchini Pizzas (grilled zucchini slices topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese)

Cold Roasted Vegetable Salad with Olive Oil, Pine Nuts, and Feta Cheese

Grilled Pepper-Crusted Salmon Filets with Garlic Broccoli

Fruit Kabobs with Lemon Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Mixed Spiced Nuts

Flank Steak Pinwheels (steak wrapped around cheese, spinach, sundried tomatoes)

Grilled tilapia filets with grilled portabello mushroom caps brushed with pesto and filled with a mozzarella/Parmesan cheese blend

These are just a few of the many options you can bring to the summer holiday (or everyday) table. Remember, choose dishes that not only look and taste amazing but that provide you with long-lasting energy and nutrition. You’ll have more energy, feel better about your choices, and have less anxiety about the next backyard bash you’re invited to!

Thanks for reading, everyone. Share your favorite healthy BBQ fare and thoughts about navigating the summer holiday buffets.

Written by Melissa Stoner, Registered Dietitian and Weight Loss Coach

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader


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