How to Hold a Healthy BBQ

5 guilt-free outdoor menu ideas

Higher temperatures, longer days and packed pools can only mean one thing: The barbecue season has officially commenced. But while there’s no doubt your attendees will still clamor for comfort food during the summer months, the demand for more calorie-conscious, healthful meeting food options is rising, too––which doesn’t exactly define traditional barbecued fare. 

Luckily, there are several ways to hold a healthier barbecue that still satisfy all your guests’ summer cravings. Here are five of those ideas.

1. Hold the Mayo

Coleslaw is a backyard barbecue staple––and there’s no reason your summer-inspired event shouldn’t serve it, too. Consider swapping out the dish’s main caloric culprit, mayonnaise, for something packing less fat (think: plain nonfat Greek yogurt or olive oil).  

2. Go for Grilled Chicken or Fish 

While red meat is a barbecue staple for a reason, it’s all too easy to go overboard when there are endless skewers available. For a more heart-healthy option, consider stocking your picnic tables with leaner proteins like chicken, turkey, fish or tofu.

3. Give Finger Food a Crunch

Although half the fun of a barbecue is sipping cold beverages and noshing on appetizers while waiting for the meat to cook, that seemingly harmless handful of chips and cheeses can add up quickly. To keep guests occupied, consider stocking bowls and platters with veggie trays––complete with nonfat yogurt and mustard for dipping.

4. Bring on the Baked Beans

While beans, a picnic table staple, are packed with protein and fiber, the traditional varieties we tend to associate with summer parties are soaked in sugar. Skip the sauces and serve baked beans à la carte, seasoning with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. 

Or, if you’re looking for a juicier variety for your health-conscious meeting, this vegan-inspired version uses apple cider vinegar and low-sodium soy sauce to increase moisture. 

5. Skip the Ice Cream

For a less fatty and sugary version of summer’s favorite dessert, consider serving attendees a variety of fresh fruits and nonfat whipped cream, with natural sugar substitutes like stevia and honey for extra sweetness.