Healthy BBQ Treats for Your Summer Parties

people at a BBQ cook outSay hello to long weekends–the summertime BBQ season is upon us! It’s time to get ready for the party that will start summer off with a splash—and a healthy “yum,” if you do it right.

Beginning with Memorial Day, and carrying on through family reunions, graduations, the 4th of July, all the way to Labor Day, the right picnic and grill treats will make you a hit at every party.

When you want to keep the food choices simple, delicious and great-looking, and at the same time, healthy—it’s all in the menu planning. With a little prep and smart shopping, you can make sure the dishes you serve or bring to BBQs this summer offer options for every taste in the crowd

Grab Proteins for the Grill

One way to keep eating healthy simple is to choose high-quality products with the right ingredients, or less of the questionable ones.

Hot Dogs can be organic, and 100% beef, too. Applegate sells an organic gluten-free dog made with 100% grass-fed beef, for example.

Burgers don’t have to be hamburgers! More than just vegetarians enjoy a grilled Portobello mushroom cap, especially if you top it with some interesting condiments, like blue cheese or an olive mix, for flair. Salmon can be cut into burger-sized filets, and brushed with a soy sauce glaze or wasabi mayonnaise.

Sausages come in plenty of healthier varieties than old fashioned brats in beer. Chicken sausage is a popular choice. Johnsonville has a Chipotle Monterey Jack flavor chicken sausage with no MSG and half the fat of most traditional links.

Wraps make for a good substitute for enriched white bread buns, too. Any of the above choices could be wrapped inside a soft whole grain tortilla or spinach wrap—they sell low-carb versions, also. Large lettuce leaves (red leaf works well, so does Boston) are a nice touch for the no-grain gang.

Super Sides and Desserts

There’s nothing like superfoods to up the health-factor of any meal, and it’s even more fun to work with veggies and fruits that are bright, colorful and bursting with freshness.

Tomato Salads get tastier as the season goes on, but even in May you should be able to find some sweet and juicy Compari tomatoes, or other organic choices to cut into chunks and mix with fresh herbs and black pepper, then top with extra virgin olive oil. You can make ahead then let it sit—it also works well as a burger topping or wrap stuffing. To get even fancier, add kalmata olives, capers, or even anchovies.

Cucumber salads can be made in a flash (and affordably) with sliced cucs, a splash of good vinegar, a dash of salt, pepper and sugar, and a few sprigs of dill for extra flavor.

Grilled vegetables are the perfect choice for a nourishing side dish instead of chips and dip. Classic choices are zucchini and yellow squash, red onions and sweet bell peppers. Olive oil, maybe a sprinkle of garlic salt, and you’re all set to get a little tender-crisp char on them.

Grilled fruit—have you tried it yet? It is amazing! Below is a recipe for you to use for your next outdoor gathering.

Grilled Fresh Fruit Kebabs

grilled fresh fruit kebabsPick your favorites from the produce stand, and then skewer the fresh, colorful selection however you like. Extra treat: serve with a small dollop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

  • Selection of fresh fruit, such as strawberries, melon, peaches, plums, bananas and pineapple
  • 2 T of butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 2 T of honey


  1. If using wooden skewers, soak 12 of them in water while you prepare the fruit. Preheat the grill to allow for medium heat.
  2. Peel melon or bananas and cut them into larger chunks (or make melon balls). Stone fruits like peaches and plums can be cut into halves or quarters—prepare enough to thread on 12 skewers.
  3. Place each type of fruit on a skewer, making sure there is a larger “cap” such as a strawberry or melon ball, at the end. Arrange cut fruits flesh side down to allow them to get caramelized. Repeat with all 12 kebabs.
  4. Melt butter or coconut oil, and brush each skewer with it. Place on the hot grill for a few minutes until they start to soften and char a bit.
  5. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the grill and flip the skewers onto the foil. Brush or drizzle with honey, and let cook another few minutes until the fruit is tender and fragrant.

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