Healthy, Balanced & Delicious Summer Barbecue Menus

The first day of summer isn’t until June 20th this year, but now that Memorial Day has passed, summer is unofficially here. Do you know what that means? Besides 90 degree days, the jingling ice cream truck passing by your house every day, and the beaches swarmed with activity, it’s barbecue season!

One of my favorite parts of summer is hanging out in the backyard with friends, sipping a refreshing cocktail or glass of wine, and noshing on delicious food, especially a hot off the grill burger. But all those afternoons eating and drinking can wreak havoc on the waistline. To help you keep your summer barbecues a little more nutritious while maintaining the delicious flavors of the season I put together offerings for you to make healthy, balanced, and delicious barbecue menus all summer long.

Below, you’ll find lots of options for hors d’oeuvres and appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, dessert, and beverages to keep the taste buds tickled and the bathing suit fitting!

Hors D’oeuvres & Appetizers

Watermelon, Feta, & Mint Skewers
Salmon Ceviche with Cucumbers and Radishes
Berrilicious Salsa
Grilled Avocados Stuffed with Corn & Black Bean Salsa
Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel, Toasted Almonds, and Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette
Shrimp and Corn Salad with Basil

Main Dishes

Steak Tacos with Nectarine Corn Salsa
Pulled Chicken with Concord Grape BBQ Sauce
Corn and Basil Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Grilled Chicken with Cherry Apple Chutney
Summer Chicken Kebabs with Herb Sauce
Grilled Steak with Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Chimichurri Sauce

Side Dishes

Grilled Grape Farro Salad
Cucumber and Onion Salad
Corn & Black Bean Quinoa Salad
Hawaiian Cole Slaw
Red Cabbage, Snap Pea, & Blueberry Salad
Grilled Vegetable Platter


Watermelon Raspberry Frozen Treats
5-Minute Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Strawberry Mousse Parfaits
Peach-Berry Cobbler
Chocolate Frosting Shots
Fire-Roasted Nectarines


Cantaloupe Agua Fresca
Strawberry-Rhubarb Mimosas
Watermelon Lemonade
Orange Ginger Mint Spa Water
Skinny Margaritas
Sweet Peach Iced Tea

Remember that an important part of maintaining a healthy diet even when at a party is focusing on portion sizes and balancing what’s on the plate. Also, keep in mind when it comes to grilling that sugar and honey are usually among the first few ingredients of most barbecue sauces. To save your added sugar calories for those sweet treats at the end of the meal, try making your own barbecue sauce using no-cal sweeteners like this Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce made with sucralose.

What are you looking forward to serving or eating at your summer barbecues?


Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and culinary nutrition expert. She has extensive experience as a recipe developer, writer, editor, and speaker. She is the co-author of We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities (Barron’s, 2011), past columnist for the Culinary Corner column in Today’s Dietitian Magazine, and maintains a popular blog at Jessica is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and various Dietetic Practice Groups of the AND, including Nutrition Entrepreneurs, Food and Culinary Professionals, and Dietitians in Business and Communications. Follow her out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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June 1, 2016 Lifestyle Advice