Gearing up that barbecue over the long weekend

May 20, 2014 

This time of year, outdoor dining is the name of the game — whether you're hosting friends or just feeding the family on your patio. Unfortunately, many traditional grilling options can be time-consuming to prepare and high in calories, fat and sodium.

So how can you make your next barbecue healthy and easy?

Easy sides

A summer salad is easy to toss together, and makes for a healthful accompaniment to your grilled selections. Avoid heavy dressings and mayo-based salads. Instead, reach for olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar to dress your greens. Swap out iceberg lettuce and include a leafy base that contains more vitamins and nutrients, such as romaine, red leaf or arugula.

A tiny bit of preparation goes a long way with easy-to-grill vegetable sides. An easy marinade can really bring out the flavor in asparagus. And corn-on-the cob grilled in the husk doesn't need much more than a pinch of salt and herbs to taste great.

Main dish

Rather than load guests down with something fattening and heavy, consider lighter alternatives that are easy to prepare. Start with this recipe for sweet Italian chicken grillers with fresh mozzarella:


One package (28 oz.) al fresco sweet Italian chicken patties.

Cooking spray, olive oil.

8 oz. roasted red peppers.

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced.

8 rolls, deli style.


Pre-heat to medium.

Lightly coat with cooking spray or olive oil.

Grill on low-med heat for 6-7 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165 F.

To assemble: slice deli roll in half, top with the grilled patties, slices of mozzarella cheese and roasted red peppers. Serve immediately.

More recipes and grill ideas can be found at


For dessert, stick with cool, crowd-pleasing treats that are light and easy to serve. Top low-fat frozen yogurt with root beer and you can end your meal on a sweet float note without guilt. Or make a fat-free gelatin mold stuffed with fresh peaches, strawberries and bananas.

You don't need a high-fat, high calorie barbecue to have a good time on the patio this year. When it comes to grilling, think fresh, natural and light.

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