How to Make Your Labor Day BBQ Healthy and Soul-Satisfying

healthy-bbqAugust means going back to school, which means Labor Day weekend, which means barbecue! Having family and friends over for an end-of-summer picnic is an excuse to eat lots of great food. But sometimes the menu — burgers, hot dogs, mayonnaise-filled potato salad and Ruffles potato chips — can be on the unhealthy side. Putting these types of food into our bodies every once in a while isn’t too harmful, but consuming healthy food means a healthy and happy soul. I’ve gathered some recipes that will be sure to please all types of eaters at your Labor Day picnic, while remaining incredibly nutritious.

Wet your whistle

First, keep your guests’ thirst in check with things other than soda and sugary drinks. Flavored water is delicious, refreshing, healthy, and has detoxifying properties. Personal aside: I drank water infused with lemon, lime and cucumber every day for one week and felt fuller while eating fewer snacks! Flavored water is so easy to make, store and serve. This recipe includes cucumber, lemon, ginger and mint — shavings or zests of each — in a gallon of water. Need more than a gallon? Double it!

Want to have more than water at your party? Understandable. For your guests who are of age and looking to indulge (it is a holiday after all), try this skinny strawberry-lime punch. This drink combines lime juice, frozen strawberries, stevia and light vodka for a delicious summery drink.

Savory spuds

Everyone loves a good potato salad. The carbs and creaminess make for an epic comfort food and barbecue staple. But mayo and potato, all in one dish? That might be a little too much. However, there are still ways to include spuds at your picnic. With only a fraction of the carbs, this “All-American Potato Salad” includes green onions, pepper (good for your memory), eggs, celery and red bell pepper. Replace the mayo with hummus or my favorite superfood, olive oil! If your family is really into exploding flavors, give this lemon-herb potato salad recipe a try. It uses fingerling potatoes — the baby brother of Yukon Golds — kalamata olives, and tons of flavorful spices (chives, basil, parsley).

Salads other than Caesar

Want something leafier? Family and friends will definitely appreciate a daily helping of greens, so why not a salad? Use shredded kale instead of your average lettuce. Kale is one of this earth’s healthiest foods. It is high in vitamins A, C and K, antioxidants, iron, and fiber, and it has ZERO fat. That’s right, ZERO. And one cup of kale only has 36 calories. Not only does this salad have kale, it also features avocado (another super food) and strawberries. Avocado is a good source of healthy fat which can help protect your body from heart and brain diseases, cancer and degenerative eye problems. The fruit cuts the bitterness of the kale with its sweet flavor. This recipe comes from my favorite food bloggers, Two Peas and Their Pod. Their entire website is chock full of amazing food creations for anything you might be in the mood for.

Battle of the burgers

Now it’s time for the main event — all hail the mighty burger! I’m a big fan of red meat, so this recipe is for all you carnivores out there. The burger packs in ground beef, bacon and chorizo (spicy, Spanish sausage). Guy Fierri also graces us with his homemade Worcestershire ketchup recipe. This might not be the healthiest of recipes, but I couldn’t help myself! If you’ve got some vegetarian family members, try this black bean burger recipe. Substitute sweet potatoes for quinoa in this patty for a sweeter and softer burger. Black beans and sweet potatoes both pack in a variety of nutrients — and sweet potatoes are another major superfood, containing large amounts of vitamin A.

Fruity desserts

Finally, it’s time for dessert! But that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice health. The following goodies will satisfy a sweet tooth, while getting in a serving of fresh fruit. If you have an ice cream machine try this vegan coconut-raspberry ice cream from Two Peas and Their Pod. As an alternative for anyone who doesn’t like coconut, try these strawberry popsicles! If you want to avoid using sugar in the above recipes, use unsweetened applesauce, it will make your ice cream even fruitier!