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Healthy Twists on BBQ Recipes You Can Try This Summer

Leisure barbecue social event amongst a close group of friends on a rooftop

Summer’s here, and it’s time for some fun in the sun (With sunscreen, of course!). Whether you’re planning a family cookout or celebrating the 4th of July with a big gathering, you’ll be manning that grill. However, if you’re looking to add a bit more nutrition to your meals, you can ditch those old standbys and enjoy a few healthier BBQ recipes.

Why Eliminate Old BBQ Recipes?

There are number of reasons to change up some of the less healthy recipes you cook each summer. Saturated fats and loads of sugar are just two reasons. Plus, with the recipe additions and modifications I discuss below, you can enjoy better nutrition without sacrificing flavor. And, after all, that’s what most of us are worried about. We don’t mind eating healthy; we just don’t want it to taste like cardboard.

The Best Grilled Vegetables EVER! – SAM THE COOKING GUY

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites Instead of Buffalo Chicken

Buffalo-style cauliflower dish with ranch sauce as part of the new BBQ recipes.
Combine Your Favorite Buffalo Chicken Seasonings With Cauliflower (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Seriously, who doesn’t love Buffalo chicken? Whether you’re talking about wings, sliders, fingers, or something else, it’s a staple of summer grilling. However, all that breading is loaded with carbs. Plus, there are plenty of proven benefits of replacing some of your meat with veggies. Combine your favorite Buffalo chicken seasonings with cauliflower florets, toss them, then grill them just like you would chicken. Cauliflower is low in fat, has virtually no sugar, packs in lots of gut-healthy fiber, and delivers plenty of vitamins and other nutrients. Not a fan of cauliflower? Check out some other vegetarian recipes to mix things up.

Turkey Burgers Instead of Beef

Turkey Burgers With Cranberry Sauce
Instead Of Beef, Use Ground Turkey Which Is High In Iron And Low In Fat (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Who doesn’t start salivating at the thought of a homemade burger? That sizzling patty topped with tomatoes, onions, and pickles just scream summertime. However, red meat is not that great for you, despite recent claims to the contrary. That doesn’t have to mean giving up your summer burgers, though. Instead of beef, use ground turkey. It’s low in fat, high in iron and other nutrients, and widely available at just about every store these days. Many ground turkey blends are fat-free while still packing in the protein, as well.

Grilled Pineapple for Dessert

Looking for great sweet treat recipes to top off your BBQ this summer? Instead of ice cream, cake, or whatever other option you might default to, consider grilled pineapple. It’s so easy you won’t even need a recipe. Here are a few pointers and tips to help you maximize flavor while still being healthy:

Cast-iron pan with bbq pineapple slices with addition of honey.
Grilled Pineapple For Dessert Instead Of Ice Cream And Cake (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  • Add cinnamon for a great taste. Sprinkle just a little brown sugar on there, too.
  • Consider ginger to up the flavor and add a touch of heat.
  • Hot sauce can work well on pineapple!
  • Grill it until it begins to blacken–the sugars in the fruit will caramelize right on the flesh.
  • Cut it how you want–halves, chunks, rounds, and slices are all legit ways to enjoy this fruit.

Healthy Grilled Cheese

It doesn’t get much more comfort-foody than a grilled cheese. Golden-fried bread with glorious melted cheese in the middle? It’s incredible. It’s also pretty unhealthy. Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of ways to make that grilled cheese sandwich a little more nutritious. Here are a few quick tips:

Three grilled slices of halloumi cheese on grill in perspective.
There Are Plenty Of Ways To Make That Grilled Cheese Sandwich A Little More Nutritious (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  • Use whole-grain bread, not white bread. Whole-grain bread has a lot more fiber than white bread, which is good for your body. 
  • Add fruit or veg to your sandwich. A few broccoli florets or even a couple of apple slices in the middle of your sandwiches adds flavor and brings a lot of additional nutrition to the table. 
  • Limit the amount of butter you use. While it does have some calcium, butter is mostly fat, so go easy with it.
  • Skip the mayo if you’re one who uses that.
  • Opt for low-fat or low-sodium cheese to help reduce your intake of fat and salt. If you’re feeling really adventurous, consider using vegan cheese. These non-dairy slices offer lots of flavor, have all the texture of real cheese, and have none of the inflammatory side effects.

Healthy Pulled Pork

Pork gets a bad rap today. It’s lumped in with beef in the whole red meat argument. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. In addition to limiting your consumption of pork and other meat, you can take a few extra steps to make your pulled pork BBQ recipes as healthy as possible this summer. You don’t have to skip those burnt ends; just follow these tips:

A closer look at a Pulled Pork.
Pork Shoulder Or Pork Butt For A Healthy Pulled Pork (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  • Choose a different cut of pork. In most cases, pulled pork is made with pork shoulder or pork butt, but tenderloin is just as flavorful when cooked right and has far less fat.
  • Watch your sauce. A lot of the calories in pulled pork has nothing to do with the meat and everything to do with the sauces that you slather on. In a pinch, opt for:
    • Low sugar BBQ sauce
    • Sauces based on mustard
    • Sauces based on vinegar
  • If you’re going for a pulled pork sammie, then use whole-grain bread instead of white bread or buns. Again, it’s all about the fiber (and the nutrition that’s stripped out of white bread).
  • Consider skipping the bread altogether. Instead, go for a pulled pork bowl with some tasty veggies and skip the carbs (and resulting sugar) of the bread.

Healthy Recipes for Your Next BBQ

It’s summertime, so fire up the grill! Whether it’s a weekend cookout for you and that special someone or you’re having a big gathering, the BBQ recipes and tweaks I covered above will help ensure that you not only get amazing flavor but lots of nutrition to help improve your health. Eating well doesn’t have to mean living off salads. There are options to suit just about anyone, from vegetarians to confirmed carnivores. You just need to eat smart and make healthier choices.