Summer is the time to break out your grill and enjoy the warmth and sunlight, plus all that delicious food you’re cooking up! Unfortunately, BBQs are typically loaded with some pretty unhealthy foods—everything from hot dogs to potato chips to mayonnaise-heavy potato salad. Thankfully, there are a number of foods that will actually be good for your health. Here are the healthiest BBQ foods for you to eat this summer:
If it’s a vegetable, throw it on the grill! Grilled spring onions are hugely popular, as are grilled red bell peppers, grilled zucchini, and grilled eggplant. You may not be a huge veggie lover, but wait until you have a few bites of grilled veggies with the right seasoning (I’m partial to salt and lemon pepper). It’s a great way to stock up on the healthiest BBQ foods before you pound the meat and brats.
Yes, hamburgers are definitely on the list of the healthiest BBQ foods, but ONLY the hamburger patties. Go ahead and make them a cheeseburger, but skip the white flour bun. Instead, wrap that burger (and all your condiments and veggie toppings) in some nice lettuce to make a bun-free burger. It’s just as delicious and meaty but without all the empty carbs and refined flour you’d get from a hamburger bun.
Meat on a Skewer
Whether you’re making shish kebabs or just skewering meat to make it easier to cook, this is definitely one of the healthiest BBQ foods you can eat. Meat is rich in protein and healthy fats, and is low in carbs and sugar (the real enemies of your health). Just make sure to avoid drowning the meat in sugar-heavy BBQ sauce, and be very careful not to burn the meat (blackened meat can be carcinogenic).
While most of us are familiar with mayo-based dressings for our coleslaw, the truth is that mayonnaise is loaded with unnecessary chemicals and fats. Instead, reach for the vinegar and sesame seed oil to make an Asian-inspired coleslaw. Without the mayo, coleslaw is a rich vegetable medley that is absolutely worth piling on your plate!
While not the most popular choice at a BBQ (that summer sun really does a number on the fruit), fruit salad is definitely the healthiest choice of dessert. Watermelon and cantaloupe are two popular choices, and they can be wonderfully refreshing on a hot day. Just stay away from any fruit dish made with a lot of cream, marshmallows, or anything too sugary. Fruit in its natural form, or say no to dessert!
Cheese is definitely high on the list of good foods to eat at a BBQ! Not only is it super filling, but it’s loaded with calcium and healthy fatty acids that will aid in weight loss. Just be sure not to eat too much of that chemical-laden ham, but stick with smoked meats or anything made fresh. And, sadly, white flour crackers are better off avoided—they’re just empty calories that won’t do your body any good.
There will always be veggie-heavy sides, such as green bean casserole, bean salads, Cobb salad, and the list goes on. These veggie sides can be a bit hit and miss, as they’ll sometimes be drowned in a cream-based Ranch or Caesar salad dressing or sprinkled heavily with artificial cheese. Try to get veggies in their most natural form, but if there are no fresh veggies, you’re still better off eating a plate of green bean casserole than potato chips or French fries.