Healthy and delicious recipes to try at your next summertime barbecue

Healthy and delicious recipes to try at your next summertime barbecue

By Christine VanDoren

Your backyard party food doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure

Cookouts can lead even the most fitness-committed to consume extra calories that short-circuit healthy eating goals. Dishes high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugars seem to make their way to the picnic table when the warm weather appears.

But you don’t have to miss out on all the great grilling opportunities that come your way. You just need to prepare some low-calorie, high-protein alternatives to meet your nutritional needs.

With the right recipes in hand, you can create delicious and healthy options that keep the good times cooking.

The unique benefits of low-calorie, high-protein foods

Foods that are low in calories and high in protein help you feel satisfied and full without overeating. Low-cal, high-protein meals tend to include things like lean meats, poultry and seafood. Regular consumption of each of these abundant protein sources can help keep you on track for losing weight and gaining muscle.

Because fats and sugar are high in calories, low-calorie, high-protein foods provide you with a steady energy supply without a crash. These foods are also very versatile and tasty. They fit perfectly in any barbecue menu — and they’re simple to prepare, which is even better.

2 tasty main dish recipes you need to try at your next cookout

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Servings: 4

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Bamboo skewers

Toss the shrimp in oil and add salt, pepper and cayenne. Skewer the shrimp for easier handling. Cook on a medium-high grill for one to two minutes on each side. They’re small, so be careful not to overcook. Four servings have an average of 166 calories and 17 grams of protein.

Seasoned Chicken Breasts

Servings: 4

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

3 teaspoons olive oil

Prepare a medium-high grill by applying cooking spray. Coat chicken breasts with oil and rub with seasoning mix until coated. Lay chicken on the grill and cook four to five minutes, until grill marks appear. Flip and repeat. Serve over greens or veggies for extra flavor. Each 5-ounce serving provides an average of 170 lean calories with a whopping 29 grams of protein.

2 tasty and healthy side dishes for your next event

Fresh Corn and Bean Salad

Servings: 4

1 15-ounce can of black beans

2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans

1 cup canned corn kernels

4 medium tomatoes

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup pickled jalapenos

1/2 cup cilantro

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup vinaigrette dressing

Drain and rinse beans and corn. Dice tomatoes, onions, pepper, and jalapenos, and chop the cilantro. Toss all ingredients in a bowl with onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian dressing. Fold in cilantro. For a fresh and crispy side salad, you’ll get an average of 223 calories and 8 grams of protein per serving. This dish makes a great addition to a delicious and healthy barbecue spread.

Mexican Deviled Eggs

Servings: 4

8 hard-boiled eggs

1/4 cup jar salsa

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup grated cheese

2 teaspoons taco seasoning

1 tablespoon sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

Slice eggs in half and place yolks in a bowl. Mash yolks and mix in salsa, mayo, taco seasoning, yogurt or sour cream, and cheese. Spoon filling into egg whites and top with green onions and tomatoes. Two of these cookout favorites supply an average of 159 calories and eight grams of protein for a savory serving of good eating.

2 delicious and healthy desserts to finish off your meal

Power Brownies

Servings: 4

1/2 cup protein powder, chocolate flavor

1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons peanut butter

1/2 cup skim milk

1 cup fat-free yogurt, drained

Whisk or sift protein powder, flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together. Mix peanut butter, milk, and yogurt and incorporate with dry ingredients only until blended. Be careful not to overmix. Pour batter into a sprayed 8-by-8 square pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Four single-serve brownies clock in at an average of 220 calories and 18 grams of chocolatey protein goodness. They are a great way to end a guilt-free cookout.

Protein-Packed Cake

Servings: 4

1 scoop vanilla flavor protein powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ripe banana, mashed

6 tablespoons liquid egg substitute

1 packet imitation sweetener

Stir the ingredients in a bowl and split evenly into two ramekins (crème brulee dishes). Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. These dynamite little 90-calorie treats carry a high protein charge of around 17 grams per serving.