BBQ season is in full swing! And, given the traditional spread of hot dogs, buttered corn and mac-and-cheese, it can sometimes feel like health has to take a back seat when hosting friends and family. But, by swapping out the worst offenders and prioritizing higher quality ingredients, you can succeed in not only getting everyone well fed, but also well nourished!
The use of a buffet-style set up allows everyone to dictate the appropriate volume of food for their own personal needs, and gives people the option to try a little bit of everything. Allowing people to self-season their food also increases the likelihood that they might be more open to trying something unfamiliar. You can still serve up a few cheeseburgers, but if you provide plenty of additional vegetable-based options people will naturally crowd-out large portions of unhealthier food. Cutting hot dogs in half, serving them without the bun or opting for more natural condiment options will also minimize consumption of unnecessary empty calories and sugar.
Hosting a BBQ is also the perfect excuse to maximize food preparation. You may as well take advantage of the fact that you are already going to be making a trip to the store and spending an extended period of time in the kitchen. You can save yourself effort later on by doubling up your recipes, both when buying ingredients and actually making them. The second batch, and any leftovers from the first, can be saved for effortless healthy eating during the upcoming week!
The most important thing to remember is that those at your gathering will only eat what you serve. So by just making sure that you primarily prepare healthy dishes, you can’t go wrong! Keep your guests (and yourself) feeling refreshed and impressed with the following easy, healthy side options!
Ditch the sugary baked beans and opt instead for this bright and vitamin-packed bean salad! We mixed three cans of drained and rinsed beans (one kidney, one garbanzo and one black) with 3/4 of a chopped red onion, two chopped green bell peppers, a large handful of quartered cherry tomatoes, a healthy bunch of cilantro and EVOO, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and cumin. Stir everything together and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least two hours before your guests arrive (it’s even better if left overnight!). Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve cold!
Say goodbye to boring bowls of potato chips and pretzels and hello to your new favorite pre-dinner snack bowl (bonus: it’s so much healthier). Pop a big bag of popcorn (or grab a pre-popped option from the store — we love: Boom Chicka Pop and Lesser Evil), add a cup of Love Grown cereal (this bowl has Honey and Strawberry Power O’s), a handful of nuts, roasted chickpeas (we used Saffron Road), coconut shreds and a dash of cinnamon. Get creative and experiment with mixing sweet and salty — you can’t go wrong!
People have probably been serving vegetable kebabs since the introduction of the first BBQ. But when was the last time you saw a crudité version? Give your guests a fresh and nutrient-dense side with minimal effort! Save room on the BBQ by skewering cut up cucumbers, celery, baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and apples (they’re delicious with this combo, we promise). Skip the unhealthy ranch dressing and opt instead for a quality brand of hummus or guacamole — or make your own, like we did here, by throwing a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas in a food processor with tahini, EVOO, chopped garlic and lemon juice! We added parsley to the one on top for a change of flavor!
Leave the refined sugar of soda and juice boxes in the grocery store aisle and upgrade with this homemade (and crazy refreshing) watermelon drink. All you need is the meat of one large watermelon, the juice from two limes and a handful of fresh mint — throw it in a blender for a few seconds and, wallah, you’ll never look back!