Cookout Ideas That Aren’t Hotdogs or Hamburgers

       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 healthy, you may be left munching on the veggie tray as everyone else fills their plate with hotdogs and coleslaw.

       You don't have to be stuck with just the veggie tray.  There are numerous healthy options to choose from during the summer cookout months, so there's no need to be left out of the fun or go home hungry.  

Here are a few of my summer cookout staples...

1. Veggie Burgers

Whether you make them from scratch or buy them pre-made, 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 toss them on the grill for a crispy option to sweet potato fries.

4. Shish Kabobs

Shish kabobs taste great during the summer.  Adding zucchini, squash, red onion and mushrooms make this a deliciously healthy and easy to hold meal. If you desire animal protein for your shish kabobs, try tossing some organic chicken or wild caught shrimp in between your veggie layers.  Drizzle your favorite BBQ sauce on, and you've got yourself a delicious and healthy meal. Here's a tip to not over-cooking or under-cooking your veggies/meats. Place all your meat on one kabob, all your mushrooms on one kabob, all your zucchini on one kabob and so on so that you can control how long each kabob is on the grill!

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.

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