Here are five tips for a nutritious summer cookout.

Summer is a season of celebration and delicious food. You can eat their delicious treats at their freshest this time of year. It’s also the perfect time to improve your overall nutritional intake—and it’s a snap to do it painlessly.

The next time you host a festive backyard barbecue, focus on nutrition as much as on pleasing your guests’ palates. Now is the time to show off your culinary wizardry!

1. Lean your burger recipe

Few things make hungry mouths water like the delicious aroma of burgers on the grill. You want to be the biggest and juiciest with your perfect four. However, choosing plain ground beef can set you back nearly a full day’s worth of calories and pile up a lot of saturated fat in your arteries.

Why not find recipes every bit as delicious for a fraction of the belt-busting stuff? For example, switching to leaner ground beef can cut the fat content in half while reducing calories. Better yet, why not opt ​​for red meat?

Salmon burgers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation while lowering your heart disease risk, and you can find a world of veggie burger options. If you don’t like fake meat at the market, consider inventing a recipe with black beans, portabello mushrooms or hemp seeds – or all three.

2. Include lots of exciting summer salads

Your local farmer’s market should be your second-favorite place outside of your backyard garden this summer. It’s bursting with organic produce that you can transform into ambrosial salads that delight everyone at your cookout.

For example, why not add a sunny twist to the traditional Caesar salad? For example, a kale version with cucumbers, leeks and cherry tomatoes lets you put your farmer’s market finds on proud display for all to see – and taste. Alternatively, make a pasta Caesar salad alternative using noodles made with lentil and quinoa pasta.

What about everyone’s favorite tuber – the potato? Traditional cookout potato salad is loaded with mayonnaise, which increases the calorie count. However, you can make yours leaner by opting for a German version of the mustard substitute. Adding plenty of other veggies like celery and peas makes this dish even more waistline-friendly.

Have you tried elote? This Mexican street corn is a huge hit in the Southwest, though people in other parts of the country might miss it. Fear not—you can learn to make a salad version that adds red peppers and onions for a healthy phytonutrient explosion and impressive flavor.

Finally, you can’t forget the results. Why not make an ambrosia salad with the blueberries, grapes, and bananas you picked up at the farmer’s market? You can make a dairy-free vegan version by substituting coconut cream for Cool Whip.

3. Work on your herb garden

Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only thing in the summer season. Your garden is probably bursting with fresh herbs, too! Use it to liven up your summer cooking while adding valuable nutrients.

For example, basil contains vitamin C for immune function and iron for red blood cell formation. Thyme contains thymol, which can help with the pain of bug bites, a common summertime affliction. It even adds some fiber to your diet. Parsley may look like a disposable garnish, but it’s high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting.

Herbs can also transform the flavor of your summer barbecue. Are you cooking chicken or shrimp on the barbie? Wrap it in foil and add lemon juice and herbs to add flavor to your dish.

4. Think whole, healthy grains

Summer means pasta salad — but the white flour found in many noodles isn’t doing you any good. The manufacturing process produces a chemical byproduct called alloxan, which scientists use to destroy the insulin-producing pancreas of lab animals. Additionally, it is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream, causing a glucose spike. Two together is a recipe for diabetes.

Instead, choose pasta made from alternative flours. You’ll find that foods made from ancient grains, such as quinoa and amaranth, are high in protein, which is helpful if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Chickpea or garbanzo bean flour is another option that is high in protein. Such options make you feel fuller for longer and are much more beneficial to your overall health.

5. Have fruit with dessert

The freshness doesn’t stop with the main course. You can bring that goodness and nutrition to your summer cooking dessert table.

You don’t need to heat up the oven or even get out a mixer to put together a strawberry icebox cake. All you have to do is put it together the day before and let the refrigerator do its magic overnight. Although the recipe calls for regular whipped cream, you can substitute a vegan version.

Did you know you can grill fruit? This starts to caramelize the sugars inside, making them taste sweeter. The trick is to place them on a stick, kebab-style. You can serve them plain or with a strawberry whipped cream dipping sauce.

Tips for a nutritious summer cookout

Summer is the perfect season to gather with family and friends to share a meal. This is the perfect time to get their freshest food. Why not delight your guests with taste while helping them stay healthy? Follow the five tips above for a nutritious summer cookout!

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