Summer cookouts are awesome. They’re also often very high in foods low in nutrition, but high in taste. The recent “menu” for a BBQ read something like this: “Burgers with buns, pasta salad, potato salad, chips, dessert. Everything with an italic is a simple carbohydrate. In other words, low nutrition, high sugar, and a basic diet for health “no-no”. So, what are you to do? Just say “no” to all cookout invitations? No way! Just make yourself a really great guest. By bringing something nutrient-dense to the cookout, you’ll know you have at least one good option to add to your plate, regardless as to the rest of the menu.

1) Fruit plate or fruit kabobs

Easy, great if there are kids, can be used as part of dinner or dessert. Choose a variety of fresh fruit, like berries, melon, and pineapple or mango for a really awesome looking and tasting option.

2) Veggie platter with hummus

Veggies are great with dip, it’s a well know BBQ fact. Upgrade the dip to a flavored hummus to really pack a nutrition punch. Carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, and even spears of zucchini are great options to create a stunning platter.

3) Kale Salad

Traditional salads often don’t make it to the BBQ picnic table because they just get all soggy and don’t hold up to the weather. Kale salads, however, just get less bitter and more tender the longer they “marinate”. Do a nice Kale chop salad with a simple vinaigrette, fresh berries, and nuts.

4) Roasted Veggies –

The grill will already be hot, why not add some veggies to it? Chop up bell peppers, onion, zucchini, and yellow squash, toss into a bag with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce. Let it marinate on your way to the party, and then toss on the grill.

Make your summer fun and healthy. Say yes to the BBQ, but no to derailing your wellness efforts!


– Aubrey Phelps MS RDN LDN