9 Healthy Recipes to Keep your Barbecues Light but Flavorful

9 Healthy Recipes to Keep your Barbecues Light but Flavorful

May 18 2015

Your summer barbecue does not have to suffer to accommodate healthy choices.

By: Amanda Benson, RD

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. Grills are dusted off, people head to the beach and celebrations are planned.

Here are our favorite summer recipes you can use for your holiday get-togethers and all summer long.

Apps and Side Dishes

  • Everyone will love this “skinny” shrimp salsa! Light, fresh and packed with protein, this dish is perfect for starting off summer with a bang. Serve with baked chips and dig in! Only 75 calories per ½ cup serving.
  • Macaroni salad is a classic side dish found at most summer holiday celebrations. Cut the calories but none of the creamy flavor with this lighter version. Traditional macaroni salad contains 470 calories per serving – this recipe has only 130 calories per serving. You can make this recipe even healthier by substituting whole grain macaroni. All of the flavor, none of the guilt!

Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream to add more protein and reduce calories.

  • Looking to add more veggies to the menu? A creamy broccoli salad could be exactly what you’re looking for. This crunchy salad is only 107 calories per serving. There is a lot of room to make this salad your own, and you can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream to add more protein and reduce calories.


  • Burger and bacon lovers will enjoy this twist on a traditional turkey burger! Sweet potato and bacon turkey burgers are perfect for grilling up this holiday weekend, and throughout the rest of the summer. The sweet potatoes add moisture to the burger patties, and the turkey bacon amps up the flavor. The best part? These burger patties are only 121 calories per serving. Pair with a whole grain bun, and some fresh veggies.
  • It’s not a barbecue without something on a skewer! Try something new with these sweet and spicy grilled pork and mango skewers. While this dish is full of flavor, if you want to take it to the next level, top the skewers with fresh cilantro for an extra kick. Each skewer is 300 calories per serving.

This easy homemade version cuts down on the calories and salt.

  • Here’s a lighter take on a summer grilling staple: all-American bbq chicken breast. Most bottled barbecue sauces are loaded with sodium and high-fructose corn syrup – this recipe uses an easy homemade version that cuts down on the calories and salt but still packs that barbecue punch. Each serving is only 221 calories, leaving you plenty of room for dessert.


  • Red, white and blueberry cheesecake yogurt cupcakes are the perfect way to add a little patriotic flair to your holiday weekend. These mini cheesecake cupcakes are made with a mixture of Greek yogurt and cream cheese, on a vanilla wafer crust. Top those off with fresh strawberries and blueberries, and you have the perfect 100 calorie treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Looking for something quick and easy? After dinner, keep the grilling going with some delicious grilled pineapple. Paired with a sweet honey/lime/cinnamon marinade, this dessert is still only 50 calories per serving. Not sweet enough for you? Serve with a scoop of your favorite frozen yogurt.
  • Get the whole family involved making these frozen banana popsicles! This summer treat only takes four ingredients, and has very minimal prep time. Garnish your popsicles with some red, white and blue sprinkles, or your favorite crushed nuts for some extra protein. These frozen delights are less than 100 calories!

About the Author: Amanda Benson, RD is a Registered Dietitian and Wellness Consultant at Priority Health. She graduated from Michigan State University and has experience in many realms of nutrition and health including clinical, community, corporate wellness and health promotion.