One of the best parts of summertime is gathering outside with your friends and family to enjoy delicious food and conversation. The fireflies, warm, dewy air, and longer days are the perfect equation for gathering to experience the essence of summer. Cookouts are a staple of summertime, but if you’re trying to eat healthy, you may be left munching on the veggie tray as everyone else fills their plate with hotdogs and coleslaw.
You don’t have to be stuck with just the veggie tray. There are numerous healthy options to choose from during the summer cookout months, so you there’s no need to be left out of the fun or go home hungry. Family and friends alike will enjoy these tasty alternatives.
Here are a few of my summer cookout staples…
- Veggie Burgers
Whether you make them from scratch or buy them prepared, veggie burgers give you that summer BBQ feel, while reducing red meat. If purchasing pre-made veggie burgers, make certain to read the nutrition label and don’t be fooled into thinking they’re healthy just because they’re called “veggie” burgers. Opt for real vegetable nutrition – no added fillers or high sodium content and minimally processed. These taste great and you put them on a gluten free bun (don’t go for overly processed gluten-free options either) or even a lettuce wrap. Dress it with homemade toppings and condiments – you can make simple, easy substitutes for those high fructose or processed toppings like hummus instead of sandwich spread or avocado slices. Delicious!
- Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are an all-time favorite, but many don’t like the excess starchiness or nutrient profile of potatoes. You can now get the texture and love of this summertime favorite, with some mashed cauliflower. Just add some garlic and olive oil for a delicious flavor profile that mimics the real deal. You can dress up cauliflower mash and make it a special treat.
- Sweet Potato “fries”
The perfect companion for your veggie burger! Skip the regular French fries and lean towards the healthier option – how about some baked sweet potato ‘fries?’ They have a higher nutrient profile and packed with resistant starch – the right kind! You can even toss them on the grill for a crispy option to sweet potato fries. In my area, Old Bay Sweet Potato Fries are a staple.
- Shish Kabobs
Shish kabobs taste great during the summer. Adding zucchini, squash, red onion, and mushrooms make this a deliciously healthy and easy to hold meal. You can include animal protein in your shish kabobs by adding in some organic chicken or wild caught shrimp in between your veggie layers. Drizzle your favorite homemade BBQ sauce on and you’ve got yourself a delicious and healthy meal. Remember not to overcook food on the grill. You can even add in kabobs for dessert!
Eating healthy through the summer months do not have to be hard. With just a few minor adjustments, you can turn pretty much any dish into a delicious and healthy meal without skimping out on the flavor at all! So, give these a try at your next BBQ, you will not be the only one to enjoy these dishes.
By Angela Atkins, Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach at YourHealthUnbound.com