How to Have a Healthy Warm Weather Barbecue or Picnic

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The weather is finally getting warmer…it’s time to fire up the grill and plan your next picnic or barbecue! Gather with friends and family to enjoy the warm weather and sunlight, but don’t forget to keep health in mind.

Barbecue Basics

It doesn’t matter if you are a new griller or an expert chef. There are a few things you must know to make your barbecue a success.

  • Start with a clean grill. Use a grill brush to ensure last night’s dinner is removed. This will help with grill prep and cooking.
  • Choose a lean meat. Start with lean cuts of meat such as chicken breast, ground sirloin for burgers, pork loin or fish. When choosing a fattier meat, make sure you trim the fat from the meat.
  • Temperature is key. How do you know when your meat is done? You can get a BBQ thermometer to ensure your meat is prepared to an appropriate temperature. Chicken breast should reach 165 degrees. Beef and lamb should reach 135-140 degrees for Medium and 155 degrees for Well-done. Remember to insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.
  • Mix it up! You can do so much more than just grill meat. A BBQ griddle transforms your grill so you can sauté vegetables. You can use a pizza stone on the grill to prepare an oven-roasted pizza. It’s becoming easier to prepare so many dishes outside.
  • Find the right tools. Grilling is easier when you have the right tools to help you along the way. A few key tools include tongs to pick up meats, a brush to add marinade and a grill tray. As you become an expert griller, you may want to add to your collection.
  • Find the right marinade. Grilled meat is great, but don’t forget the marinade. This can help season any cut of meat. Seasoning packets are available at any grocery store but you can easily make your own.

Fantastic Sides

  • Grilled veggies – Chop up a variety of veggies and sauté them on your grill pan. Anything will do – squash, zucchini, mushrooms or peppers can all be chopped and grilled as a side dish. Add some olive oil, garlic, basil or the spices of your choice.
  • All the Salads – What’s a barbecue without a salad? You can go with a mixed lettuce salad, broccoli, coleslaw or whole grain pasta. Choose light sides and sauces.
  • Fresh Fruit Desert – Who needs dessert when you can choose a fresh fruit dessert? Most people love a bowl of chopped fresh fruit topped with whipped cream.

3-Ingredient Marinated Chicken

Source: plainchicken.com


  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4-6 boneless chicken breasts

Skinny Broccoli Salad

Source: bellofthekitchen.com 


  • 1 medium head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup sunflower kernels
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3-4 slices of bacon


  • Combine broccoli, sunflower kernels, raisins and bacon in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Stir together Greek yogurt, sugar and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour over the top of the broccoli mixture and stir evenly to coat.

This recipe tastes the best when served immediately. If you want to serve it later, you may want to prepare a bit more dressing to add in case it gets dry.

Enjoy this time with the warm weather, your friends and family, and healthy and delicious food!

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