Summers are just not complete without a summer cookout (don’t you just love them!).
There are few ideas out there that rival the fun of this old-age tradition – whether it’s on Memorial Day, a family member’s graduation party, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day or some random weekend when it seems like a perfect idea to bring over some friends for a little barbecue.
Trying to eat healthy at a summer cookout can be a hard ask though, from the heavy meats to the BBQ drinks to cut through the grease. But it doesn’t have to blow all the healthy progress you have made.
There are many healthy ways you can enjoy a summer cookout without compromising on the delicious part of it. In fact, your company won’t even realize you’re introducing “diet food” to the party!
Below we share some simple, refreshing kid-friendly and adult-pleasing suggestions that should make for great treats on those hot days.
Iced tea is a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s, and Americans love for this classic cold summer beverage is in the public domain. The beauty of iced tea is that there are million-and-one ways to prepare it.
A few ideas include:
- Spiced maple iced tea: Maple syrup and star anise may scream chilly fall days, but that doesn’t mean they become defunct in summer.
- Rhubarb iced tea: Brew your bags of choice while boiling fresh rhubarb stalks separately in water. Once simmered to a ruby red liquid, strain it and mix with the tea, then sweeten to taste. Sugar is allowed but you can opt for healthier alternatives.
- Iced lavender green tea: Another iced tea recipe that will take you just a few minutes to prepare. Simply add green tea to a pot of water and bring to the boil. Infuse with lavender and serve.
You can carry your love for tropical fruit to your summer cookout with yummy papaya bowls. As with iced tea, there are many, many ways to make papaya bowls. Papaya remains the base ingredient, in every sense of the word, but you can opt for a whole wide range of toppings.
Preparing papaya bowls is as simple as ABC.
Take fresh, well-ripen papaya and cut it in half, lengthwise. Scoop out some of the meat from the two halves to create a small well inside the fruit. Fill the bowls with yogurt, a smoothie of choice or ice cream, preferably fruit – for example, banana ice cream (common theme here is thick and creamy).
Then add whatever topping you can round up – blueberries, raspberries, cherries, slivered almonds, figs, dates, nuts, kiwi, chia seeds, hemp seeds, shredded coconut – there is no limit!
A summer cookout would be remiss without a refreshing lemonade drink and this is an easy favorite.
Instead of going for the mundane lemonade recipe, try adding some rosemary this time for a little savory punch.
To prepare, add sugar and rosemary in a saucepan containing water and bring to a slow boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then remove from the heat. Cover the mixture for 30 minutes to let the rosemary steep. Take some lemons and squeeze them into the mixture and stir. Lastly, strain it into a pitcher and cool to room temperature.
You can skip the sugar by opting for a natural sweetener like honey or agave nectar, only this time, add it at the point you squeeze the lemons.
This is a cookout idea that works best if you want to evade the boring vegetable tray. Many people opt to pass up the traditional vegetable tray for a simple reason: it has been an everpresent at the barbecue since, well, like forever(!) and it doesn’t look any more fun or tasty than it has since the dawn of creation.
Given vegetables are essential, you should go ahead and include them on the day’s menu, but you’ll need to get a little inventive. And it doesn’t get any more creative than taking a popsicle stick and wedging it through one end of the cucumber, just a little bit as to hold the cucumber firmly in place to keep it from falling out.
Often, most of us put their fruit on a cake, and it’s something we too can be accused of partaking. Perhaps a little too eagerly.
Nobody said it was bad, but berries are most flavorful during this time of year when they are in peak season. And what better way to enjoy them than in their most natural state, right?
This year, fill up some bowls with fresh berries of choice. They are great to snack on but anyone can also add them to their plate with the entrée.
And these friends, are just a few simple ideas to liven up your summer cookouts!