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Stay on track with your health goals while enjoying good food
Healthy Swaps to Make at Any Barbecue
Barbecues are one of the best parts of summer. Nothing is better than sitting outdoors with your family and friends, enjoying good food and even better company. But barbecues don’t come without their challenges: You may be trying to eat healthy, but when faced with the glorious array of options at a barbecue, it’s so easy to cave. Of course, you should always eat what you want, and if a juicy grilled burger is just what you’re craving, we say go for it! But if you’re looking for a few healthy alternatives, we’ve rounded up some easy ways to slim down your summer cookout without sacrificing taste. So go ahead and barbecue, resting assured that you’ll be able to stay on track with your health goals. You’ll feel your best, because these swaps all contain better-for-you ingredients that will help you shine inside and out.
Instead of Butter…
Try using a splash of fresh lime juice on your corn on the cob. It will save calories while adding zesty flavor. Here’s a great recipe for classic grilled corn on the cob.
Instead of Caloric Cocktails...
OK, who are we kidding? Cocktails and summer spritzers make a barbecue extra delicious. Just avoid the ones with tons of sugar and go for a classic cocktail like a refreshing vodka and soda. Garnish with lemon and lime, or get creative and use fresh peppers or herbs. If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic but still cooling, try a smoothie; here’s how to make kale smoothies you actually want to drink.
Instead of Chips...
Lay out an impressive vegetable tray arrangement. Some added benefits: Your guests will not only avoid overeating before their barbecued feast, but their greasy fingers won’t ruin your patio furniture (you could also just give them napkins). Try our vegetable crudité with green goddess dressing.
Instead of Hamburgers...
Try grilling up some turkey burgers. You're swapping out fatty red meat for a leaner option that really doesn’t sacrifice a ton of taste. Just be careful of your burger toppings! For a healthy spin on the traditional burger, try our quinoa-black bean turkey burgers.
Instead of Hot Dogs...
Try serving chicken sausages. They are hearty and flavorful, and they grill up just like a hot dog. The only difference is that they’re not stuffed with any questionable meat by-products. For something a little different, try our Italian chicken sausage and white bean sandwiches.
Instead of Ice Cream...
Even if you’re trying to stay healthy, don’t forget to treat yourself. Your guests will be super impressed with these healthy strawberries-and-cream ice pops!
Instead of Macaroni Salad...
Try making a similar side with zoodles! They make a fine and tasty substitute for traditional noodles. Here are some great tips to make the best zoodles possible.
Instead of Mayonnaise…
Can’t live without the creamy sides? Try making your favorite dish with a Greek yogurt swap. This broccoli slaw Waldorf salad recipe calls for half of the usual amount of mayo and uses Greek yogurt in place of it, adding protein and calcium to the salad.
Instead of Oil…
Try avocado! Substituting mashed avocado for oil in this avocado sage cornbread recipe retains moisture but reduces unhealthy fat content.
Instead of Red Meat Kebabs...
Why not put out a much healthier appetizer? Grill up some seafood and skip the hefty red meat with its sticky-sweet marinade. These grilled lemon pepper shrimp kebabs fit the bill!
Instead of Store-Bought Marinade...
Make your own! Seriously, it’s incredibly easy and will eliminate some of that excess sugar. This marinade recipe from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will add a punch of flavor to any dish you’re preparing.
Instead of Traditional Barbecue Sauce…
16 Healthy Food Swaps You Can Make In Your Life
We all want to be healthier, but it’s such a big commitment. Joining a gym, stocking your fridge with special food, and forgoing all the little treats that make life worth living. Why does being healthy have to be so hard, when being unhealthy takes no effort at all?
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t need to spend your weekends on the weights, or cut all carbohydrates from your diet in order to become a healthier person. A few small changes can make a big difference. Just thinking about your eating and lifestyle habits, and how you might tweak them, can give you more energy, shrink your waistline, and keep sickness at bay.
Follow the simple tips and tricks below to become a healthier, happier version of yourself. From fresh meat delivery to a short walk a day, there are plenty of little swaps and changes you can make to your life to improve its quality.
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11 Perfect Sides to Serve with BBQ Ribs
These popular sides to go with barbecue ribs range from southern classics like mac and cheese and collard greens to lighter fare including crunchy slaw and an unexpected fruit-laden salad. Whatever you choose to serve with your ribs, just be sure sure to have plenty of barbecue sauce—and napkins—on hand.
Ribs 101 Best. Ribs. Ever. Ribs, whether baby back or spare (and whether grilled, smoked, or baked in the oven), are the kind of thing that demands total absorption: eyes down, both hands getting messy from all the aforementioned BBQ sauce, not coming up for air until that bone’s picked clean. When you do come up for air, though, you want something delicious to eat before tackling the next rib in the pile. Ribs are often tangy, sweet, and full of rich, delicious fat so there are certain sides that balance BBQ ribs particularly well acting almost like a reset for your tastebuds.
Behold, 11 of our favorite sides for ribs, from the light, crisp, and palate-cleansing to creamy, rich, and ultra decadent.
1. Slow Cooker Collard Greens
Collards are often cooked with smoked ham hocks, but smoked turkey drumsticks are a great substitute and yield more meat than ham hocks. Cleaning and trimming 5 pounds of greens is the hardest part of this recipe—after that, it’s easy. Get our Crock Pot Collard Greens recipe.
2. Classic Macaroni and Cheese
What’s nice about this recipe is its versatility. It works beautifully as both a creamy stovetop dish with any sort of mix-ins you like, and as a crunchy baked mac ‘n’ cheese sprinkled with panko breadcrumbs. Get our Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
3. Herbed Potato Salad
Honestly, almost any potato salad is good with ribs, but the tangy herbed dressing (a shallot-and-Dijon vinaigrette with parsley, tarragon, and dill) is a nice change from the usual heavy mayo version and cuts through the richness of BBQ ribs like a knife. Get our Herbed Potato Salad recipe. (And find out which potatoes to use for potato salad too.)
4. Crispy Corn Fritters
Hush puppies by any other name do taste as sweet—as these summer corn fritters prove so well. Fresh kernels off the cob are folded into cornmeal batter with cayenne and scallions, then fried crisp and golden brown (but fluffy and tender inside). Drag them through the BBQ sauce on your plate for a swoon-worthy bite. Get our Crispy Corn Fritters recipe.
5. Baked Cheese Grits
For something easier but just as satisfying, quick-cooking grits combine with milk, sharp cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and eggs, then bake in a casserole dish that can go directly onto the table. When corn’s in season, try folding some fresh kernels into this dish too for pops of juicy sweetness. Get our Baked Cheese Grits recipe.
6. Corn with Basil Butter and Flaky Salt
Grilled corn on the cob is great as-is, but generously spread this herbed butter on top and sprinkle with flaky sea salt for a simple yet sophisticated dish that truly epitomizes summer. Get our Corn with Basil Butter and Flaky Salt recipe. (Or if you go with an Asian-influenced barbecue sauce for your ribs, try our Mirin and Soy Sauce Grilled Corn recipe on the side.)
7. Corn and Tomato Coleslaw
Green cabbage, fresh corn (a recurring theme for good reason), tart tomatillos, and cherry tomatoes: the perfect summer coleslaw recipe. A lime, garlic, and mustard dressing finish it off, along with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. Get our Corn and Tomato Coleslaw recipe. (And if you like more spice, try our Lime and Jalapeño Coleslaw recipe.)
8. Spicy Jicama, Grapefruit, and Mango Salad
Out of the box, for sure, but this tart, cooling, crisp, and refreshing salad is the perfect go-with for rich pork and multi-layered BBQ sauce. Try it and you might just start a new summer grilling tradition. Get our Spicy Jicama, Grapefruit, and Mango Salad recipe.
Related Reading: 15 Summer Slaw Recipes
9. Jalapeño-Corn-Beer Bread
Cornbread is the perfect foil for the richness and complexity of a stack of bones, but this spicy quick bread with pickled jalapeños is an interesting cornbread alternative. It has a dense texture that’s excellent for dipping in BBQ sauce. Get our Jalapeño-Corn-Beer Bread recipe.
10. French Green Bean Salad
With good, flavorful BBQ keeping the sides somewhat similar works well. This healthy French Green Bean Salad calles for blanched beans that get dressed up with a mustard and shallot vinnagrette. Get our French Green Bean Salad recipe.
11. Skordalia (Greek Potato Dip)
Francesco Sapienza (Lamalo)
This flavorful Greek potato dip, skordalia, calls for blanched russet potatoes blended with almonds, oil, raw garlic, bread, and spices. It’s absolute heaven and absolutely and works well both as a side or a dip (ease up on the almonds and oil for a side dish version). What’s more? The recipe comes from New York Medditerean outpost, Lamalo, who kindly shared their skordalia recipe in full. Try serving with some kabobs or simple lamb burgers with mint and feta, and if you do…please invite us. Get the Skordalia recipe.
The 31 Best Vegan BBQ Recipes For Your Next Backyard Cookout
For vegans, &ldquolet&rsquos fire up the grill!&rdquo can be a pretty alienating sentiment. I mean, summer BBQs typically feature all the animal products (think hot dogs topped with beef chili and shredded cheese).
Luckily for my fellow plant-eaters and I, though, that's starting to change. The $939 million plant-based meat market has grown by an astounding 38 percent over the last two years, according to The Good Food Institute. And demand for products made from meat may fall by up to 50 percent in the next 10 years, a recent RethinkX report suggests.
The bottom line: Vegan barbecue recipes might soon be seriously in-demand.
Of course, your best bet is always to swap that steak for whole plant foods, like a hearty slab of grilled cauliflower topped with herbs, spices, and cashews&mdashnot a mock beef alternative.
While plant-based meat alternatives are touted as great ways to transition away from eating meat (and reduce your carbon footprint!), they&rsquore not your best bet for long-term health, says Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, dietitian and founder of Essence Nutrition. (Some experts question the health implications of consuming a lot of soy isolates, which are commonly used in plant-based meat alternatives. Whole soy is a-okay, though.)
Auslander Moreno recommends filling your picnic table with nourishing recipes, like BBQ tempeh (which is made of probiotic-rich fermented soybeans that are high in fiber and protein), homemade veggie burgers loaded with ingredients like beans, beets, tahini, carrots and quinoa, and sides like roasted sweet potatoes, salads, and dips like hummus and guac.
From fun apps to grillable mains and summery desserts, you&rsquoll be counting down the days until you get to whip up these plant-based dishes for your next BBQ.
75+ Best Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes for Easy Family Dinners
Of all the various newfangled countertop cooking methods out there, one of the best is a tried-and-true classic: slow cooking. Not only is it a convenient and reliable method for ensuring tons of flavor (with nothing under- or overcooked), but it's also a relatively healthy way of cooking. By keeping food over low heat for long periods, and by keeping the moisture in, you ensure food is flavorful without needing to use a lot of oil&mdashor unnecessary amounts of sugar or salt.
That's why slow cookers (or Crock Pots, if you prefer) are so perfect for making healthy recipes that your whole family will enjoy. We've rounded up some of our favorite lighter slow cooker dishes that you can whip up for quick, easy dinner recipes. Whether you're trying to satisfy picky eaters or just want to try something new, there's no shortage of healthy Crock-Pot recipes to choose from.
And you can use an Instant Pot or other multi-cooker to make any of these slow cooker recipes as well! Though, for the best results, we recommend avoiding using the locking lid (which traps too much moisture) and getting a glass lid that fits.
From hearty slow cooker soup recipes that will keep you warm during winter, to summer slow cooker recipes like pulled pork sliders to serve at a barbecue, there's a recipe in here for any occasion and season. If you're in a rush or just want something easy to make for dinner, you can't go wrong with these healthy Crock-Pot recipes.
Bean Dessert Recipes You'll Want to Make Every Day
Beans are filled with fiber, protein, and excellent vitamins and minerals. Plus, they're a super versatile ingredient, and many bakers are using them in place of flour to create gluten-free delights.
If you're using them as a flour substitute, it's typically a 1:1 ratio. Though you can certainly use all varieties, black and white beans are usually the best, mildest choices to use, depending on what your recipe type is (e.g., use black beans in brownies or cocoa dishes, and white beans in neutral-colored dishes).
When it comes to replacing fat ingredients with beans, you have to be especially careful. Fats are not only used for flavor but also texture and mouthfeel for dishes. Culinary dietitian Sara Haas says, "For brownies, you can replace oil with three-quarters as much black bean purée. For cookies, you can replace up to half the butter or shortening with the bean purée. For quick breads and muffins, replace butter or shorting with half as much bean purée. I really recommend experimenting as this is just a general guide other ingredients may need to be altered too."
16 Delicious Ways to Eat Beans Instead of Meat
Like mushrooms, beans make a great vegetarian substitute in dishes like burgers, sauces, tacos, and other traditionally meat-centric recipes. And it's no wonder why: Dense and chewy, they have a certain heft to them that makes things like chilis and veggie burgers feel substantial and comforting. Plus, beans are great at soaking up the flavors of whatever sauces or spices they're being cooked with.
What's more, beans are high in protein and fiber, two nutrients that are important for satiety. Plus, they contain no saturated fat (which the USDA recommends limiting to less than 10 percent of your daily calories). A cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein,15 grams of fiber, 227 calories, and no saturated fat. Pair beans with some vegetables and healthy fat, and you've got a well-rounded meal!
The next time you want to go meatless, but still want something comforting and filling, these 16 healthy bean-filled recipes will satisfy you and then some. There's a recipe from everything to bolognese to burgers to un-chicken salad, so every taste and craving is covered.
30 Healthy Summer Crock Pot Recipes For When It&rsquos Too Hot To Cook
When you see any recipes involving a Crock Pot or slow-cooker, you probably think of hearty chilis, thick stews, and cozy winter nights. And it's true: Crock Pots are famously good at making warm, comforting meals&mdashbut they're not-so-well-known as summer recipe wizards.
Do you know what else they&rsquore great for, besides those classic soups? Summer classics like pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, and braised brisket. And, because it&rsquos looking pretty likely that outdoor gatherings will be a safe option this summer, you&rsquoll need these big-batch summer slow-cooker recipes in your repertoire. After a year (plus!) of very limited social interaction, you probably want to spend as much time as possible actually talking to people at the party, instead of at the hot grill flipping endless burgers.
"I love a slow-cooker because it makes the meal in one pot while you&rsquore out doing other things," says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. "There&rsquos very little cleanup and you usually get a ton of great flavor without really having to cook anything yourself." Plus, you can keep your kitchen nice and cool during the hottest months of the year.
In terms of how to use the Crock Pot, there&rsquos really not much you need to know. You can put raw meat and other ingredients straight into it, then just set it and forget it until hours later when it&rsquos fully cooked. It really is as simple as throwing ingredients in, pressing a button, and walking away.
One thing to keep in mind is that tough cuts of meat (pork shoulder, brisket) typically do better cooking for longer on the "low" setting. On the other hand, more delicate meats like chicken, plus vegetables and other plant-based foods will taste best cooked for less time on the "high" setting, since too much cook time might make them a little mushy. A good recipe will tell you which setting to use, so there&rsquos no need to overthink this.
&ldquoFor instance, if you want shredded chicken for your tacos, cook them low and slow in a slow-cooker with some seasoning," Rizzo suggests. "Or, use summer veggies like tomatoes and zucchini to make a ratatouille."
Lucky for you, there are loads of healthy summer Crock Pot recipes out there, chock-full of seasonal foods and famous barbecue-style flavors. Most important of all, though: You can also make insanely good summer desserts, like berry cobbler, in your Crock Pot. (If that doesn't sell you, I don't know what will.)
Whether you're hosting a cookout or just want to avoid the oven at all costs, these healthy summer Crock Pot recipes will satisfy every warm-weather craving.
Grilled Eggplant and Pepper Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Journal as: 2 slices bread + 2 servings vegetables + 1/2 ounce regular cheese + 1 serving olives
1 red bell pepper
1 eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
3 tablespoons low-fat bottled Italian or balsamic vinaigrette
8 slices of whole grain bread (or use a French baguette sliced lengthwise)
2 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup tapenade (bottled olive spread available in grocery specialty sections)
- Preheat the grill.
- Cut the top off the bell pepper discard the rind and seeds. Cut pepper into quarters. Brush low-fat bottled Italian or balsamic vinaigrette on eggplant slices and bell pepper pieces.
- Place the eggplant slices and bell pepper pieces on a grill coated with canola cooking spray. Grill about 6 inches from heat until tender and slightly browned (8-10 minutes), turning after 4-5 minutes.
- Spread 4 bottom slices of bread with goat cheese, then tapenade. Top the tapenade with slices of eggplant and a piece of red pepper, then top with remaining slices of bread.
- Cut each sandwich into 2 or 4 triangles (if using whole-grain bread) and serve.
Per serving: 317 calories, 12 g protein, 43 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat (4.3 g saturated fat, 6 g monounsaturated fat, 1.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 11 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 810 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%.