5 Summer Classics with a Healthy Spin

It’s time to take tried and true summer classics and give them a healthy spin. We’re talking burgers, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, and fries with a nutritious refresh. Break these out at your (socially distanced) Labor Day weekend BBQ to end summer with a bang. Enjoy!

Beef Burger vs. Chicken Burger:

When you think of a barbecue main course, you often think of a big juicy beef burger. While red meat does provide high amounts of iron and protein, it can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and going overboard on fatty processed cuts can have harmful effects on your health. Try opting for a leaner protein, like a ground chicken patty, that is lower in calories and fat compared to red meats. Including a high-quality protein like chicken into your diet can aid in weight loss or weight maintenance and help build and preserve lean muscle mass.

With all those lean protein benefits why not give this Greek-Style Chicken Burger a try? Bursting with flavor and loaded with sundried tomatoes, feta, spinach, and onions, this recipe combines the mouthwatering Mediterranean flavors in one bite. Here are some benefits:

Good-for-you-ingredients: Sun-dried tomatoes contain antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin K as well as iron. Feta cheese is a comparably low calorie and low-fat cheese. And the strong flavor also means a little goes a long way. Spinach is a low-cal superfood that is packed with disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Onions are a good source of gut-loving fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Try this Greek Chicken Burger at your next cookout.

Save high-fat beef burgers for the occasional treat and make this mouthwatering Mediterranean-inspired burger instead. Bursting with flavor and loaded with good-for-you ingredients, it’s a more nutritious but just as delicious choice.  

Coleslaw (mayo-based) vs. Coleslaw (yogurt-based):

Coleslaw is a great grilling side dish and starts off so well with a base of wholesome vegetables like cabbage and carrots—many might even consider this a healthy side! But as soon as you add the dressing, it deviously becomes much less nutritious than you might think. A traditional slaw is made with a mayo-based dressing and is typically loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats: ¼ cup of mayonnaise averages 375 calories, 41 grams of fat, and 350 milligrams of sodium. 

So, should you write off coleslaw completely? No! Simply give it a healthy upgrade by swapping the mayo for Greek yogurt, boosting the nutrients but hanging onto the creamy deliciousness. By removing the mayo, you have a slaw packed with more vitamins and minerals, plus a punch of protein. 

Good-for-you ingredients: Cabbage comes from the same cruciferous family as kale and is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C. The walnuts are rich in antioxidants and omega 3’s. And the Greek yogurt serves up a valuable dose of protein, calcium, and probiotics!

Try the recipe: Creamy Greek Yogurt Coleslaw.

This healthy mayo-less coleslaw is bright, fresh, and still incredibly creamy. Added bonus: The dish comes together in less than 10 minutes. Pop it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving to allow the flavors to meld.  

French Fries or Potato Chips vs. Zucchini Fries

Potato chips and French fries are a common accompaniment to barbecues and get-togethers, but these beloved little spuds are typically packed with too much fat, calories, and sodium and provide little nutritional value. A single serving of potato chips or French fries enjoyed occasionally won’t stop you from reaching your health goals, but dig into these types of taters too often and it may lead to weight gain. 

On the other hand, zucchini is a versatile veggie that makes a perfect swap for deep-fried spuds. Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, plus delivers more potassium than a banana, all for a mere 27 calories. So, when you’re craving a crunchy sidekick for your main dish, swap zucchinis for potatoes. These zucchini fries are lightly coated with whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and baked to crispy perfection—can you think of a more fun way to eat your veggies?

Try the recipe: Zucchini Fries with Homemade Ranch Dip.

Satisfy your French fry craving with these light and crunchy baked zucchini fries. Pair them with homemade—so healthier!—ranch dip that’s so easy and convenient to make using only dried herbs and pantry staples.

Potato Salad vs. Cauliflower ‘Potato’ Salad

Potato salad is a classic carb- and fat-heavy barbecue side dish. You can make it lighter and healthier by doing a switcheroo with a few of the ingredients, like Greek yogurt for mayonnaise and cauliflower for potatoes. Wait, what? Cauliflower substituted for potatoes? Yes! Your family will be shocked and amazed to find out they are eating cauliflower and simultaneously getting a boost of fiber, antioxidants, and yumminess! 

Cauliflower works perfectly in this dish because it has a mild taste and a texture very similar to potatoes. What’s more, Greek yogurt stands in for mayonnaise and delivers a healthy dose of protein, probiotics, B12, and potassium.

This low-carb barbecue classic makes a great addition to any main course. Plus, it tastes so good, it just might permanently replace the traditional potato salad!

Try the recipe: Cauliflower ‘Potato’ Salad.

Cauliflower works perfectly in this dish because it has a mild taste and a texture very similar to potatoes. What’s more, Greek yogurt stands in for the mayo and delivers a healthy dose of protein, probiotics, B12, and potassium. The result? A lighter, lower-carb side dish the whole family will love.

To deepen the flavors of this recipe, allow the ingredients to meld by making this at least 2 hours ahead of time. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pasta Salad vs. Spinach Salad

The word ‘salad’ can be very misleading as it inherently implies a healthy meal choice. However, that is not always the case! Take pasta salad for example—a barbecue’s common companion. Pasta salad largely consists of, well, pasta, meaning it’s traditionally carb-heavy. Soak it in mayo and it becomes calorie-heavy, too.

Let’s be honest, pasta salad is delicious and carbs are not the enemy, but when you’re reaching for two, three, or four servings at a time, it has the potential to result in an expanding waistline. Try pairing your single serving of pasta salad—that’s about one cup—with this fresh and light salad that’s bursting with berries, loaded with nutrient-rich spinach, and drizzled with a light dressing!

Using spinach as your base means your salad is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate and it also provides fiber and iron. Strawberries and blueberries add a fresh sweetness and also deliver an extra boost of vitamin C and antioxidants.

The dressing is made with avocado oil which is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. This dressing goes beautifully with any type of greens but pairing it with this berry spinach salad is simply a match made in heaven!

Try the recipe: Spinach & Berry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing. 

The perfect formula for building a balanced plate at a barbecue? Fill half your plate with light vegetables (aka Spinach and Berry Salad), one-quarter protein (aka Greek Chicken Burger patty), and one-quarter healthy carbs (a burger bun for your patty). 

Try pairing this delicious salad with grilled chicken and make it a meal! 

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