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Healthy Recipe Ideas for Your Backyard Summer BBQ

Summer is the ultimate season for backyard parties and barbecuing your favorite foods on the grill. But some of the most classic summer recipes aren’t exactly the healthiest ones. If you’re trying to get in shape or just life a healthier lifestyle, going to summer parties can be an uphill battle of temptations and will power.

Perhaps this is the summer that you decide to redefine grilling season and start some new traditions that have a healthier approach for you and your guests. Who says you need to limit yourself (and subject yourself!) to greasy burgers, questionable hot dogs, and mayonnaise-dripping pasta salad?

Here are some healthy recipe ideas for your backyard party or summer BBQ that won’t disappoint!

Grilled Shrimp Skewers over White Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • Celery Bunch
  • 24 raw shrimp (21-25 per pound; see Note), peeled and deveined

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, oregano, sage, chives, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing in a small bowl. Add beans, tomatoes and celery to the large bowl; toss well.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high or place a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.
  3. Thread shrimp onto 6 skewers. (If using a grill pan, you don’t need to skewer the shrimp.)
  4. Oil the grill rack (see Tip) or the grill pan. Grill the shrimp until pink and firm, turning once, about 4 minutes total. Serve the shrimp on the white bean salad, drizzled with the reserved dressing.

*Recipe courtesy of Eating Well

Photo credit: skevbo via Flickr

Photo credit: skevbo via Flickr

Grilled Polenta and Balsamic Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Portobello mushrooms (about 1 pound), stems and caps separated, halved if very large
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss portobellos with garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, vinegar, and 1/4 cup oil in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, for 1 hour.
  2. Transfer portobellos to a plate. Pour marinade into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Add stock. Raise heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon oil, and remove from heat.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 3 to 4 seconds.) Lightly brush top and bottom of polenta with oil, and place in center of grill. Cook, flipping once, until polenta is marked, crisp, and no longer sticks to grill, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Meanwhile, place portobellos on cooler part of grill, and cook, turning frequently to avoid burning, until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Place arugula on a platter, and arrange polenta and portobellos on top. Drizzle about half the sauce over portobellos. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side.

*Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart 

Photo credit: Lablascovegmenu via Flickr

Photo credit: Lablascovegmenu via Flickr

Grilled Watermelon Wedges

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ medium watermelon, rind washed, cut into 1¼-inch thick wedges
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place cookie or baking rack over baking pan. Season watermelon with salt. Place on prepared rack. Let watermelon drain for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Preheat grill or broiler on high.
  3. Lightly brush watermelon with oil.
  4. Grill or broil for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until grill marks appear and watermelon softens slightly.

*Recipe courtesy of The Beach Body Blog

Photo credit: be▲-t via Flickr

Photo credit: be▲-t via Flickr

Healthy Backyard Barbecue Essentials

If prefer to “wing it” at the grill rather than following a recipe step-by-step, here are some healthy backyard barbecue essentials to stock up on to make your party a success.

  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sliced raw vegetables
  • Fresh Fish
  • Cold-brew iced tea
  • Variety of healthy spices and condiments
  • Recyclable/reusable dinnerware set
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