Healthy Foods to Make, Eat, or Bring to a Summer Barbecue

Summer barbecues are a great way to gather friends and family, but eating healthy can sometimes be a challenge. Often, BBQ fare is laden with fat, salt, sugar, and calories. You do not have to deprive yourself of foods you love, but you have to learn how to make healthy choices or control the portions of the not-so-healthy options. As a non-meat eater, I always make a healthy side dish or two to bring to a barbecue or summer party. Dishes may include a tossed garden salad with homemade dressing on the side or a grain bowl. One of my favorite recipes that I make all year long is Jennifer Aniston’s simple quinoa salad (see recipe below).

If you are hosting a party, making healthy dishes ahead of time allows you to be a guest at your party while offering healthy options. Follow this link for inspiration on side dishes that are under 250 calories. Below are some tricks to eating healthy at your next BBQ:

  1. Fill half your plate with raw vegetables and fresh fruit. If you do this first, there is less room on the plate for less healthy options.
  2. If you eat meat, choose a lean protein such as turkey or chicken. If you enjoy fatty meats such as ribs or pulled pork, keep your portion to the size of the palm of your hand (or about one-half cup) and ditch the bun.
  3. Another protein source that is full of fiber is beans. Just 1/2 cup (130 grams) of baked beans supplies 18% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. A healthy option is a hearty bean salad, but baked beans can be nutritious if you make them yourself. Follow this link for a slow-cooker baked bean recipe.
  4. Corn on the cob tastes like summer to me and is perfect when boiled or barbecued. To keep the vegetable healthy, avoid topping with butter and salt.
  5. Choosing coleslaw and potato salad that is vinegar-based instead of mayonnaise-based is a healthier option and cheaper to make at home. If you enjoy the creamier versions, try to stick to a small serving and make it yourself so you can adjust the ingredients. Store-bought versions of these types of salads can have an abundance of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

Quote of the week:

It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.

~ Paulo Coelho

Recipe of the Week: Jennifer Aniston’s Favorite Quinoa Salad

Made with only six ingredients, this salad can be served as side dish or enjoyed as a main meal.


½ cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley washed and chopped (thick stems removed)

4 Persian cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeded and diced

2 medium tomatoes diced

1 ripe, but slightly firm avocado diced

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a small saucepan bring water and salt to a boil.
  2. Stir in quinoa, cover and lower the heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Put quinoa into a medium size mixing bowl and cool.
  4. Add parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and oil to quinoa.
  5. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

Jennifer Aniston’s Favorite Quinoa Salad

Published by

Leslie Ouellette

Listening and learning about nutrition, exercise, and health-related issues has been a life-long passion turned into action. I am most passionate about my family, friends, and good health. I am a business professional with over 30 years of expertise in marketing, market research, communications, writing, and editing. @balancedhealthblog

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