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Holiday BBQs Eating Tips

While BBQs are often associated with indulgence and excess calories, it's entirely possible to make healthier choices without sacrificing flavor or enjoyment. Here’s how you can navigate your next BBQ with health in mind.

1. Grill Smart Proteins

The star of any BBQ is typically the protein. Opt for leaner cuts of meat like chicken breasts, turkey burgers, or fish, which are lower in saturated fat. For those who prefer red meat, choose lean cuts such as sirloin or tenderloin.

Tip: Marinate your proteins. Marinades can enhance flavor without adding unhealthy fats. Use herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil for a delicious and nutritious marinade.

2. Incorporate Plant-Based Options

Consider adding plant-based proteins to your BBQ menu. Veggie burgers, tofu, tempeh, and grilled portobello mushrooms can be delicious alternatives. They are often lower in calories and fat compared to traditional meat options.

Tip: Season plant-based proteins well. A good spice rub or marinade can make all the difference.

3. Load Up on Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are a fantastic addition to any BBQ. Bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and corn on the cob all take on wonderful flavors when grilled. Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are essential for a balanced diet.

Tip: Create colorful veggie skewers. They are visually appealing and ensure a variety of nutrients in one serving.

4. Mind the Condiments

Condiments can quickly add unwanted calories and sugar to your meal. Choose lower calorie options such as mustard or salsa. Be mindful of portion sizes if you’re using mayonnaise, guacamole or ketchup.

5. Stay Hydrated

BBQs often feature sugary drinks and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration and excess calorie intake. Opt for water, sparkling water, or unsweetened iced tea. This will also help to keep you full! If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and consider lighter options like wine spritzers or light beer.

Tip: Infuse your water. Adding slices of fruit, cucumber, or mint can make plain water more appealing.

6. Savor Fresh Fruits for Dessert

Instead of high-sugar desserts, choose fresh fruit. Watermelon, berries, peaches, and pineapples are refreshing and packed with fiber that will fill you up more. You can also grill fruit to bring out its natural sweetness!

7. Practice Portion Control

It’s easy to overeat at BBQs with the abundance of food available. Do not come starving! Have a high protein breakfast so you don't devour food when you get there! Start with smaller portions and eat slowly, savoring each bite. This helps you to recognize when you’re full and reduces the likelihood of overeating.

Tip: Use a smaller plate. This simple trick can help manage portion sizes without feeling deprived.

8. Stay Active

Come to the gym prior to your BBQ to burn some extra calories. Incorporate physical

activity into your BBQ event as well! Games like frisbee, volleyball, or a simple walk can help balance out the extra calories consumed.

Enjoying a summer BBQ doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your goals. By making mindful choices, you can savor all the flavors of the season while nourishing your body. And always remember, if you go off your typical meal plan one day, get back to normal the next. One of day OCCASSIONALLY won't ruin your diet/ meal plan.

Here are some recipes you can bring or make for your next BBQ so you have healthy options!

Grilled Veggie Skewers


  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow, or green), cut into chunks

  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into rounds

  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

  • 8 oz mushrooms, halved

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Skewers


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.

  3. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss to coat.

  4. Thread the vegetables onto skewers.

  5. Grill the skewers for about 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and slightly charred.

Greek Yogurt Coleslaw


  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (green or a mix of green and purple)

  • 1 cup shredded carrots

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage and carrots.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

  3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

  4. Let the coleslaw sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing


  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 1 cup grapes, halved

  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint


  1. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, and mango.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice, and mint.

  3. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit and toss gently to combine.

Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.

  2. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

  4. Grill the chicken for 6-8 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).

  5. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers


  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 4 whole-grain burger buns

  • Toppings: lettuce, tomato slices, red onion slices, avocado, cheese (optional)


  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

  2. Marinate the Mushrooms: Place the portobello mushroom caps in a large resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the mushrooms, making sure they are well-coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even coating.

  3. Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.

  4. Grill the Mushrooms: Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and place them on the grill, gill side up. Grill for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until they are tender and have nice grill marks. If adding cheese, place a slice on each mushroom during the last 2 minutes of grilling and close the grill lid to melt.

  5. Assemble the Burgers: Toast the whole-grain burger buns on the grill for about 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Place the grilled mushrooms on the bottom half of each bun. Top with lettuce, tomato slices, red onion slices, avocado, and any other desired toppings.

  6. Serve: Place the top half of the buns on the assembled burgers and serve immediately.

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa


  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears of corn, grilled or boiled)

  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional, for heat)

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 1 avocado, diced

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. If using fresh corn, grill or boil the corn and then cut the kernels off the cob. If using canned or frozen corn, ensure it's drained and thawed.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the corn, black beans, red bell pepper, red onion, jalapeño (if using), cilantro, and avocado.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  4. Pour the dressing over the salsa ingredients and toss gently to combine.

  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for grilled meats or tacos.

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