Healthy Summer Cookout Basics

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Do you smell that? It’s the aroma of a grill firing away in the backyard.

One of the best parts of summertime is gathering outside with your friends and family to enjoy delicious food and conversation.  The fireflies, warm, dewy air and longer days are the perfect equation for gathering to experience the essence of summer.  Cookouts are a staple of summertime, but if you're trying to eat healthily, you may be left munching on the veggie tray as everyone else fills their plate with hotdogs and coleslaw.

You can skip the mayonnaise-laden potato salad or the nitrate filled hot dogs and pass by the boring veggie tray with unhealthy fat filled ranch dressing.

There are numerous healthy options to choose from during the summer cookout months, so you there's no need to be left out of the fun or go home hungry. 

Here are a few of my summer cookout must haves...

1. Organic Veggie Burgers

Whether you make them from scratch or buy them premade, veggie burgers give you that summer BBQ feel, while avoiding the red meat. These taste great if you put them on a whole grain bun, or even a lettuce wrap if you are gluten sensitive.  Dress it with the typical toppings and condiments, and you won't even notice the difference.  Delicious!

2. Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

We all love mashed potatoes, but many don’t like the calories or nutrient profiles of potatoes. You can now get the texture and love of this summertime favorite, for far fewer calories with some mashed cauliflower. Just add some garlic and olive oil for a delicious flavor profile that mimics the real deal. 

3. Sweet Potato Fries

The perfect companion for your veggie burger!  Skip the regular french fries and lean towards the healthier option -- how about some baked sweet potato ‘fries?’ They have a higher nutrient profile, and since you are baking them, fewer calories!  You can even cut the sweet potatoes into a wedge size and toss them on the grill for a crispy option to sweet potato fries. 

4. Put It On A Stick

Shish kabobs taste great during the summer.  Adding zucchini, squash, red onion and mushrooms make this a deliciously healthy and easy to hold with your hand's meal.  If you desire a dense protein for your shish kabobs, try tossing some organic extra firm tofu in between your veggie layers.  Drizzle your favorite BBQ sauce on, and you've got yourself a delicious and healthy meal. 

Eating healthy through the summer months does not have to be hard.  With just a few minor adjustments, you can turn pretty much any dish into a delicious and healthy meal without skimping out on the flavor at all! So give these a try at your next BBQ, you will not be the only one who enjoys these dishes.