Low-Calorie Summer Barbecue Side Dish Recipes & Tips for Dieters

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Low-Calorie Summer Barbecue Side Dish Recipes & Tips for Dieters

June 18, 2016 at 1:16 PM

Low Calorie summer barbecue side dishSummer has arrived here in Connecticut, and that means it’s one of the best times of year: barbecue season!

Backyard summer barbecues are a wonderful tradition in New England and across the rest of the country, and for good reason. They’re great ways to enjoy the outdoors, socialize with friends and family, and have an overall good time.

But for those of us who are dieting or watching what we eat, backyard summer barbecues can pose a pretty significant challenge. Barbecues are rife with fatty, high-calorie, and otherwise unhealthy foods like cheeseburgers, sausages and bratwursts, pasta and potato salads, sugary desserts, and more. For strict dieters, a barbecue and a single moment of weakness are a perfect recipe to torpedo and eating regimen completely! So what’s a person to do?

Summer Barbecue Tips for Dieters

The most obvious solution to the problems posed by summer barbecues would be simply not to go to any. But excessively restricting yourself from things you enjoy is both a poor way to live and a serious contributor to binging and other relapses. If you’re invited to a barbecue this summer, don’t say no for fear of calories. Rather go, enjoy yourself, and temper your eating regimen by following these tips:

  • Eat before going to the barbecue. If you go hungry, you’ll be more likely to eat too many of the things you’re trying to avoid.
  • Hot Dog With Mustard Weight Loss Meal PlanAvoid alcohol, especially beer and sugary cocktails. Even just a couple of average beers add close to 300 calories and a good amount of carbs to your day’s intake. Mixed drinks like rum and Coke or margaritas can also pack on a ton of excess calories in the form of added sugars. It’s best not to imbibe at all, but if you do want to indulge stick to something light and without added sugars.
  • Avoid condiments. The calories from ketchup, mayonnaise, and other condiments can add up quick. If you’re set on spreading something, yellow or brown mustard is a flavorful condiment that’s a much better choice than most alternatives.
  • Control your portions. Three hot dogs is a problem. Just one, or half of one shared with a friend, is less so. A plate full of potato salad isn’t a great idea. Just a scoop is probably okay. As with the rest of life, portion control is the key to smart eating during a summer barbecue.
  • Bring your own food (with enough to share, obviously). Not sure if there’ll be healthy food at your next barbecue? Just bring your own! That way you’ll be certain there’s something for you to eat – and odds are one or two other people will be glad there’s a healthy alternative as well.

Not sure what healthy food to bring to a barbecue? Check out some of our favorite recipes below!

Healthy Summer Barbecue Side Dish Recipes

Grilled Ratatouille Salad


  • 1 small eggplant
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh basil, finely sliced
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. Slice the eggplant into ½ inch rounds, and soak in a bowl of lightly salted water for about 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.
  2. Slice the other vegetables into ½ thick pieces while the eggplant soaks.
  3. Brush the vegetables with olive oil on all sides and season with salt and pepper.
  4. On a medium-heated grill or grill pan, grill until soft. The eggplant will take about 10 minutes, the onion, pepper and zucchini about 8 minutes, and the tomatoes only about 6.
  5. Drizzle the vegetables with the red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with basil and serve plated in flat circle.   

(Via The Food Network)

Creamy Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Nutritional Weight Loss PlanIngredients

  • 2 strips low sodium bacon or turkey bacon
  • ½ cup of ice cubes
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 6 ½ cups broccoli florets
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds


  1. Cook the bacon according to package directions until crispy. Drain on a paper-towel lined rack and save 1 teaspoon drippings.
  2. Combine 1 cup water, the ice cubes, and onion in a small bowl. Soak for 10 minutes while preparing the rest of the salad.
  3. Combine the buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and bacon drippings in a large bowl. Whisk together. Add salt and pepper. Add the broccoli, onions, and raisins. Toss well, cover, and chill for 1 to 4 hours.

(Via The Food Network)

Tomato Salad with Herbed Ricotta and Balsamic Vinaigrette


  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut crosswise into ½ inch slices
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn


  1. Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Whisk together.
  2. Combine the ricotta and basil in a bowl. Whisk together.
  3. Arrange the tomato slices on a platter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil leaves.
  4. Drizzle oil mixture over tomato slices.
  5. Dollop ricotta slices over tomato slices evenly. Chill or serve immediately.

(Via MyRecipes.com)

Related: Summer Weight Loss: Summer Fitness Tips & Pitfalls to Avoid

Tags: Broccoli Salad Tomato Salad with Herbed Ricotta and Balsamic Vinaigrette Grilled Ratatouille Salad
Category: Healthy Eating Tips

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