It’s barbecue time! Most of us spend those long winter nights waiting for the opportunity to get outside, turn on the grill and start making some food that is more than just comfort. We want something that celebrates the sounds and smells of summer. Fortunately, there are some fantastic ways to do exactly that while also staying healthy. Yes, there are healthy foods that actually work at any and all barbecues! Give these a shot at your next get-together, or even if you’re just outside cooking little something for yourself.
Veggie Kebabs / Kabobs
No matter how you spell or pronounce it, you’re probably used to see kebabs riddled with fatty meat. What you might not realize is that you can slap some veggies and fruits together in fun, properly-spiced combinations that are just as delicious. And if you need a little extra fat for flavor, sure, you can be a little liberal with the olive oil and see where veggie kebabs take you.
Stuffed Peppers and/or Tomatoes
You have all kinds of options when stuffing peppers or tomatoes (did you know there are also “stuffer tomatoes,” that grow with room for stuffing?!), but some good, healthy options include spiced rice along with veggie ground “meat.” With enough spices, a good ground meat will go by unnoticed, especially in these delicious shells that are so filling, you’ll probably only need half of one.
It’s not a twist on anything else, it’s just a classic. All that marinara and cheese – especially if you go low-fat – make for a perfect main dish during a barbecue. You can also stuff your eggplant parmesan, if you want to add an extra layer of deliciousness that your guests aren’t expecting.
Before you run away, these are delicious. The reason lettuce (especially a strong butter lettuce) is used is because it’s a great, low-calorie, healthy option to replace traditional carb-heavy “food boats,” like bread or pita or buns. You can fill them with anything, like grilled meats and veggies, but frying or grilling up some tofu is a perfect light combination with these little green cups.
Foods that are both healthy and absorb a lot of flavor are not always easy to find. Fortunately, the cauliflower has a lot of uses, and not just in a steamed veggie mix. You can use Thai spices, Indian spices, even traditional barbecue marinades and rubs, and a cauliflower can be grilled and shared to your heart’s content. They go a long way, too, and can act as a delicious side to another healthy main.
It’s time to destroy the old notions of what a barbecue can be. It doesn’t have to just be salty, fatty, carby stomach bombs all summer. Give yourself a break and add a little health-consciousness while also keeping stuff flavorful, light and fun. Try and experiment with your own favorite healthy foods like veggies, fruits and lean proteins, and see what you come up with.