Healthy Summer BBQ Recipes

Healthy Summer BBQ and Picnic Recipes

Nothing says summer like a BBQ!  It not only gets you out of a hot kitchen into the fresh air but it is also a way to spend quality time with those you care about.  Use these tips and healthy BBQ recipes below for your next summer picnic to make sure that it’s not only a wonderful occasion but a healthy and delicious way to take care of you and your family!

Focus on the Finger Food

watermelon feta flag

For most of us it’s not the actual meal that gets us in trouble at summer BBQ’s and picnics, it’s everything that comes before.  You know what I’m talking about – the chips, the dips, the cookies the brownies!  Why not replace some or all of these finger foods with healthy options?  However, it certainly doesn’t have to be boring.  I love this idea of a watermelon and feta fruit flag.

There are so many vibrant fruits and vegetables in season this time of year, so choose some colorful ones and have fun with it! 

Cut the Fat

Although fat is typically associated with flavor, on the grill it can actually turn into something harmful.  When the fat from your meat drips onto the hot grill, the smoke that forms contains PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines), which are two cancer causing agents.  Choosing leaner cuts of meat as well as opting for chicken & fish will dramatically reduce these carcinogens.

If you are worried about your leaner cuts being less tender and flavorful, try this delicious summer marinade for beef, chicken or fish!

Lemon & Herb Marinade

½ cup Olive Oil
Juice of 2 lemons or ½ cup
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Sage
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pinch of Sea Salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and then pour into a Ziploc bag or a wide flat dish.  Add the chicken, meat or fish and massage the marinade to make sure it fully coats.  For chicken or meat marinate at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.  For fish, marinate for at least 30 minutes and no more than 1 hour. 

Don’t Forget the Veggies

healthy grilled vegetables

Oftentimes we spend so much time focusing on the meat portion of our Summer BBQ or Picnic that we completely forget that there are many other foods with flavors that can be enhanced by the grill!  I like to chop up any vegetable I have on hand cook them on a grill pan.  I usually coat them lightly with olive oil, salt & pepper but you can also use your favorite dressing or even the leftover Lemon & Herb Marinade.  There is something about veggies that are caramelized (and maybe even a little charred) that is surprisingly amazing!

Finish Up With Fruit

Sometimes a meal just doesn’t seem complete without a sweet treat at the end.  Instead of bringing out the cookies, try making the most of that warm BBQ and grilling up some fruit.  The sweetness of the fruit with the heat of the grill makes a mouthwatering combination that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!  Try this quick and easy recipe at your next summer bbq or picnic.

Grilled Sweet Pineapple

healthy grilled pineapple1 pineapple, with the core removed and quartered
1 lime
1 tbsp. honey or agave (optional)

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the fresh juice over the pineapple.  Grill for 5 minutes on a warm grill. Remove and garnish with a drizzle of honey or agave if desired.  Serve warm!


These are a few of my favorite tips and tricks but I would love to hear yours!  Leave your favorite healthy summer bbq recipes or ideas in the comments below.

Happy grilling!

Tara Coleman

Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist with a private practice in San Diego, CA. She speaks nationally on the topics of health and nutrition and has been cited as a nutrition expert by media such as NBC, FOX, SELF, Cosmopolitan and Dr. Oz The Good Life. Download her FREE 4 Step Nutrition Quick Start Guide and start feeling better today!

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