Planning A Healthier Cookout Menu

Anytime a holiday rolls around, it is common to want to over-indulge on the fun foods that are served. While these foods, especially summer cook out foods like hamburgers and BBQ, baked beans and pasta salad, are totally fine to consume in moderation, overdoing them can lead to an uncomfortably full feeling with a lack of nutrient-packed foods to balance it out. So a good rule of thumb is to ensure you aren’t going into your cook out meal absolutely starving. Whenever our blood sugar is low (i.e. if we didn’t eat breakfast that morning), we’re more likely to overeat until we are uncomfortably full. So have a healthy snack or a balanced breakfast before your fun and delicious meal!

When building a balanced plate at mealtime, a simple rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with veggies (i.e. green beans, coleslaw, salad). This provides you with the necessary fiber, phytochemicals, and hydration our bodies need. As always, each meal should provide a combination of protein, carbs and fats, so a balance of protein and carbs alongside veggies is key. And don’t forget some healthy fats! Nuts or avocado pair well as a topping on salads or veggies and contain those heart-healthy unsaturated fats that will help keep you full and satisfied, like the pumpkin seeds on this creamy broccoli slaw. Chicken or tofu are fabulous sources of protein that take on the flavor of any marinade. Try out these teriyaki grilled tofu kabobs for a flavorful and summery meal. Lastly, potatoes, fruit, or pasta are healthful carbs that give you energy to enjoy the day! For a lighter spin on potato salad, try using Greek yogurt in place of mayo for a little extra protein and less saturated fat.

Summertime is a great excuse to fire up the grill and make your favorite foods! Zucchini, corn, asparagus, bell peppers and tomatoes are perfect on the grill and take on a delicious smoky flavor. Kabobs are a super simple way to cook your veggies with your proteins. Try this kabob recipe for Greek style chicken and veggies. If you are vegan or vegetarian, Portobello mushroom chunks or baby bella mushrooms are a umami-packed delicious alternative.

grilled zucchini

Fruits are amazing grilled, especially peaches, pineapple and watermelon and are a perfect way to add in more nutrition and fiber to your meal. Putting grilled fruit on salads makes for a tasty addition. Try this yummy Grilled Peach and Corn Salad next time you’re planning for a summer get together! Pair this salad with a grilled protein (such as fish, turkey burgers, chicken) for a satisfying summery salad.

What are your favorite grilling recipes? Let us know!