5 Healthy BBQ Sides Perfect For Your Summer Cookouts

Written by Cristina Powell, PN1, ME-3, CMS

Healthy BBQ Sides

Spring is in the air, which means summer is right around the corner. It’s time to fire up the grill in preparation for a backyard barbecue.

While the hot dogs and hamburgers may occasionally get upgraded to chicken or steak, in my book, there is no denying the real stars of any outdoor gathering are the BBQ sides. The more colorful and flavorful, the better.

I always have a great time adorning the tablescape of any picnic, cookout, or barbecue with fancy fresh-cut flowers and adding fresh herbs from my garden to various infused beverages. Cucumber and mint, and watermelon and basil are two of my favorites, but there are so many combinations—even simple citrus blends like lemon and lime are healthful and refreshing.

The usual suspects in terms of BBQ sides at most outdoor gatherings are potato chips, pasta salads, and inevitably lots of things including mayonnaise. But, let’s be honest, mayonnaise is always an iffy choice when the weather warms up (plus, you would never call any of those healthy BBQ sides).

In my effort to keep things light and simple, I took on the task of whipping up some healthy BBQ sides that will be the perfect side dishes for any weekend bash.

5 Healthy BBQ Sides (Summer Cookout Approved)

Cookout Garden Salad

Summer Cookout Salad

Ingredients:

  • Fresh garden lettuce
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • Drizzle Honey Balsamic Dressing*

Honey Balsamic Dressing:

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp oregano and basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Dressing Directions: Combine all ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. One serving for this healthy BBQ side would be roughly 4 tsp of dressing for the drizzle atop the salad.

Nutrition Facts for Dressing:
Yields: 48 servings

  • Calories: 13
  • Total Fat: 1 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: .5 g
  • Fiber: .1 g
  • Sugar: .3 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Nutrition Facts for Salad:
Yields: 2 servings

  • Calories: 361
  • Total Fat: 29 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 12 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 5.4 g
  • Protein: 8 g

Avocado-Mayo Cole Slaw

Healthy BBQ Sides

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • ⅔ cup avocado-mayo
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 packet stevia
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients until well incorporated. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

If I am being completely honest, this healthy BBQ side always tastes better the longer you can let the ingredients marinate.

Chef tip: You can take the help where you can get it by buying a pre-shredded coleslaw mix sold in the vegetable section in your local grocery store. This blend will typically include white cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrot.

Nutrition Facts:
Yields: 4 servings

  • Calories: 267
  • Total Fat: 31 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 2.6 g
  • Fiber: 1.15 g
  • Sugar: 1.6 g
  • Protein: .64 g

Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Brussel sprouts, shaved/sliced
  • 4 slices of bacon, sliced/crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place shaved Brussel sprouts on the bottom of a roaster pan.
  3. Lay the broiler pan atop the roaster pan and place bacon on top.
  4. Cook until bacon is completely done, then remove from oven.
  5. Slice or crumble bacon and gently stir into the Brussel sprouts.
  6. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts:
Yields: 2 servings

  • Calories: 65
  • Total Fat: 2.35 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 8 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Protein: 4.8 g

No-Mayo Redskin Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 large redskin potatoes
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil water and cook potatoes. (You can cut into smaller 1 ½-inch pieces before or after cooking.)
  2. While potatoes are cooking, combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl until well combined.
  3. Once potatoes are cooked, add mixture to them, and gently stir.
  4. Serve at room temperature.

Chef Note: You could also use new potatoes or fingerlings.

Chef Note: This is one of my favorite healthy BBQ sides. Your family & friends will love it.

Nutrition Facts:
Yields: 10 servings

  • Calories: 304
  • Total Fat: 20 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 30 g
  • Fiber: 2.6 g
  • Sugar: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 2.5 g

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

Disclaimer: This is one of those healthy BBQ sides I could eat all year ‘round and have often requested it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, my mother’s recipe includes regular Duke’s mayonnaise (it’s a Southern thing, y’all) and, of course, white sugar. I made a few tweaks, so it would be better suited for my healthy diet, and I gotta say I think it may even taste better. Just don’t tell my mother. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 3 bunches of broccoli, cut into florets (about 10 cups)
  • 1 pound bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion

Dressing:

  • 1 cup avocado-mayo
  • 1 packet stevia
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk avocado-mayo, stevia, and vinegar.
  3. Combine all ingredients until well incorporated.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Enjoy!

Chef Note: You could also substitute the cranberries with raisins. I actually prefer Golden raisins with this dish over brown raisins.

Chef Note: I have also been known to add ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Nutrition Facts:
Yields: 10 servings

  • Calories: 354
  • Total Fat: 31 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 20 g
  • Fiber: 2.3 g
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Protein: 9 g

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