When it comes to healthy summer dinner recipes, finding good ones can be surprisingly challenging. After all, when it’s blazing hot outside, the last thing most people want to do is turn on the oven or stand over the stove for hours. That’s why many of us love to cook and eat outside in the summertime. You can still enjoy indulgent food without filling your home with heat.
However, many of the most popular American barbecue foods are focused on red meat, or are rife with refined carbohydrates, added sugar, and saturated fat. While these BBQ standards may taste great, they aren’t the healthiest options available.
Today, we’ll talk about how to find healthy summer meals that you can cook outside or bring to your next barbecue.
What Makes a Healthy Summer Meal?
Before we can find healthy recipes for our next barbecue, let’s first define what we mean by ‘healthy’. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abstain from meat or even red meat entirely.
Instead, you should focus on putting together meals that offer a good balance of fresh produce (fruits or veggies) along with whole grains and proteins like legumes, meat, or seafood. A healthy meal should also be low in saturated fats, and not involve too much sodium or added sugar.
In the summer, with a wealth of fresh produce coming into season, a great healthy summer dinner should always include something fresh. These are the best opportunities we’ll have all year to eat fresh sweet corn, ripe and juicy tomatoes, or just-picked lettuces, beans, and other garden treats.
Our Favorite Recipes for a Healthy BBQ
Whether you’re grilling at home or taking a dish to a potluck, there are tons of amazing barbecue recipes out there that are both healthy and delicious. Here are some of our favorites.
You can never go wrong with grilled vegetables at a barbecue. To get the best result, use skewers or a grill tray to arrange everything evenly, so nothing falls through the grill grates into the fire.
To avoid sticking, brush the grates and the vegetables with oil, then season your veggies liberally with salt and pepper, or any other combination of seasoning you like. Some popular options include chopped aromatics like garlic, rosemary, fresh basil, and thyme, or a dry spice mix.
Plenty of salads
Salads are a great opportunity to use up odds and ends of vegetables you have lying around. To make them even more filling, bulk them up with cooked grains like quinoa, couscous, or wheat berries.
DIY veggie and meat skewers
If you’re having a group over, make a fun activity out of dinner by allowing everyone to make their own veggie and meat skewers. To do this, cut up a bunch of vegetables and proteins, and offer pre-soaked wooden skewers so people can thread their favorites on to be grilled.
Some great options include:
- Veggies: peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, yellow squash, bell peppers
- Meat and Seafood: shrimp, scallops, chicken, steak, salmon
- Other Proteins: tofu, vegetarian sausage, tempeh
Grilled fish tacos
Instead of opting for red meat, switch it up for your next barbecue by grilling fish, then crumbling the filets into taco shells with lettuce and other toppings for a fun take on fish tacos. It doesn’t hurt to drizzle some lime juice to add some extra flavor.
Skip the buns
Instead of filling up on processed carbohydrates, make your calories count at your next barbecue by skipping the bun on your burger or sandwich. Instead, wrap your fillings in lettuce, or sandwich them between slices of savory, juicy tomato.
For your next cookout, wrap up foil packets with a mixture of proteins and veggies, then throw them on the grill to cook. Some of our favorite combinations include:
- Tilapia and corn with honey-lime sauce
- Cilantro-lime shrimp with cut-up corn on the cob
- Lemon-butter salmon and zucchini
The next time you get frustrated about not being able to enjoy food at your upcoming family barbecue, remember these recipes! Plus, you can always find more healthy BBQ recipes and other handy healthy eating tips on our blog.