Your Summer Barbeque Reimagined

By Caitlin McEwen
Dietetic Intern

Summer is finally here, so that means it’s time to light up the grills, whip up your favorite summer recipes, and enjoy those backyard barbeques!

The traditional American cookout is full of tasty foods, but they are not always the healthiest choices. So the dietitians at Heartland Health Outreach have put their spin on a traditional American summer barbeque menu to give you and your family healthy alternatives to your favorite summer classics!

First up on the traditional menu is the great American cheeseburger. While this classic may be tasty, your average cheeseburger (6 oz. ground beef and 1 slice of cheddar cheese with lettuce and tomato on a white hamburger bun) contains about 675 calories, 38 grams of fat, 160 mg of cholesterol, 500 mg of sodium, and 2 grams of fiber. That’s a lot of calories, and you haven’t even had side dishes yet (or my personal favorite, dessert).

A healthier alternative is the Turkey Veggie Burger. This burger mixes ground turkey and grated vegetables to give you the burger flavor with some bonus veggies to help you feel fuller and give your body an extra dose of important vitamins and minerals! Our Turkey Veggie Burger (1 burger patty topped with lettuce and tomato on a 100% whole wheat bun) has 268 calories, 8 grams of fat, 53 mg of cholesterol, 275 mg of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber.

One serving of everything on the traditional American barbeque menu would give you a whopping 1,450 calories, compared to only 600 calories on the healthy alternatives menu. Revamping these classic recipes is easy, fun, and a great way to get creative in the kitchen. Whether you make all of these yummy twists on summer favorites or just one, they are all great ways to help keep you and your family eating healthy all summer long. Bon appetite!

Turkey Veggie Burgers 

Recipe adapted from


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 whole grain hamburger buns
  • 6 lettuce leafs
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced


  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, grated carrot, and zucchini and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the ground turkey with a fork. Add about ½ teaspoon kosher salt if desired, ketchup, and freshly ground pepper. Add the sautéed vegetables and mix well. Shape into 6 patties. Chill for 1 hour if possible to facilitate handling.
  3. Prepare a medium-hot grill. Cook the patties for 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Serve on whole grain buns, top with lettuce and tomato.

Next up are the classic side dishes: potato salad and corn on the cob.  Classic potato salad, complete with mayonnaise, celery, onion, and chopped hard-boiled eggs, has about 360 calories per serving with 27 grams of fat, 90 mg of cholesterol, 500 mg of sodium, and 2.5 grams of fiber.  To put a healthier spin on this classic, we are avoiding the mayonnaise based dressing, and opting for a lighter alternative.  The alternate potato salad with Dijon mustard vinaigrette has about 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 240 mg of sodium and 3 grams of fiber in each serving.

Dijon Mustard Potato Salad 

Recipe adapted from


  • 2 pounds red new potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt, if desired


  1. Place potatoes into a pot of boiling water. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Drain potatoes and when they are cool enough to handle, cut into quarters.
  2. In a serving bowl, combine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Add hot cooked potatoes; toss to coat evenly. Let cool, tossing occasionally.
  3. Add oil and parsley to cooled potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Grilled Zucchini and Goat Cheese Roll-Ups

Our next summer classic is corn on the cob.  Now you might be wondering, what’s wrong with corn?

Nothing. Corn is a great vegetable, but it’s a starchy vegetable, and there are plenty of starches on the traditional American menu. So this healthy swap is for a non-starchy vegetable, zucchini.  Zucchini a great low-carb option for you and your family.  To keep the spirit of grilled corn on the cob, this zucchini dish is grilled too!

The Grilled Zucchini and Goat Cheese Roll-Ups each have about 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 110 mg of sodium, and 1.5 grams of fiber.

Recipe adapted from


  • 3 medium zucchinis, cut lengthwise into 1.4 inch thick strips
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced


  1. Slice zucchini, discarding outer most slices. Brush both sides with olive oil then place on a preheated grill for about 4 minutes on each side, or until tender.  Remove from heat to avoid overcooking.
  2. In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, parsley, and thyme.
  3. Put 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture towards the end of the zucchini slice. Gently roll, and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini slices.

Grilled Fruit Kebobs with Fresh Whipped Cream 

Last, but not least, we have my personal favorite, dessert!

Nothing says summer to me like strawberry shortcake, but between the shortcake and the whipped cream (and maybe ice cream too) this decadent dessert has about 350 calories, 12 grams of fat, 13 mg of cholesterol, 300 mg of sodium, and 2.2 grams of fiber.  To still give you and your family a sweet treat, our grilled fruit kebobs with whipped cream are the perfect option!  Each kebob has peaches, strawberries, and pineapple and only has 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, 1 mg of cholesterol, 1 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber!

Recipe adapted from


  • 8 wooden skewers, soaked
  • 6 peaches, sliced
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • ½ pineapple, cut into large chunks
  • Olive oil for brushing the grill
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Skewer peaches, strawberries, and pineapple in an alternating fashion.
  3. Brush a medium-high grill with olive oil. Grill kebobs, turning occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until fruit is tender and slightly charred.
  4. While kebobs are grilling, use a chilled metal mixing bowl to beat whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together until stiff peaks form.
  5. Top kebobs with whipped cream and serve.

Bonus 4th of July Recipe: Watermelon Stars with Greek Yogurt and Blueberries 

Recipe adapted from


  • 1 seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blueberries


  1. Cut watermelon into ½ inch thick slices, then using a star shaped cookie cutter, cut the slices into stars.
  2. Top each watermelon star with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt, then add blueberries on top of the yogurt
  3. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

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