BBQs are a staple of summer but can be a minefield of high-calorie foods. There are healthier and smarter choices—you just need to know what they are. These are easy go-to’s for your next party.
Available year-round, zucchini is at its best during the summer season, especially if freshly plucked from your own garden. A delicious source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and fiber, it packs a nutritious punch for a mere 27 calories per cup cooked. Registered dietitian Rachael Hartley says summer vegetables like zucchini, simply seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, are delicious on the grill. “I like to make extra and use leftovers for pasta, salads, and sandwiches during the week,” says Hartley.
New York City-based nutritionist Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD says, “there’s nothing better than sweet summer corn. I like to throw it on an indoor grill in the husks. It gives a nice smoky charred flavor. To make it a little special, top with cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime.” A medium ear of corn offers about 3 grams of fiber, some protein, and potassium. Corn also contains the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to reduced risk for macular degeneration according to a 2015 article in the Journal of Ophthalmology.
“Many people don’t realize that you can grill avocado,” says Rizzo. “Just cut it in half, remove the pit and throw it face-down on the grill. It will get these beautiful grill marks and become warm and creamy.” Avocado is a source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, vitamin K, and folate. A recent study from Tufts University also found that an avocado a day improved brain function in older adults. Find out 15 other foods you didn’t know you could grill.
Stephanie McKercher, RD, a Colorado-based recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer, recommends a meatless option made from chickpeas— like her Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Burgers. “They’re made with lots of herbs and spices and a hearty mix of chickpeas and whole grains. Even meat-lovers will want to give this one a try!” says McKercher. Chickpeas boast 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per half cup, are rich in folate, and have some calcium and iron. Don’t miss our fool-proof guide to grilling burgers, chicken, and everything in between.