By Stacey Stein
Summer in Canada is associated with time-honoured
traditions like camping in the great outdoors, relaxing lakeside at a cottage,
and enjoying backyard barbecues, reveling in the warm weather and longer days.
With Father’s Day and Canada Day around the
corner, many of us will be firing up the grill as we celebrate these holidays. Well-loved
staples like hot dogs and burgers first come to mind when we think of barbecuing,
but why not try our hand at healthier options for our celebrations this summer?
Ditching packaged, processed foods in
favour of homemade alternatives gives us an opportunity to cut out calories and
fat while adding in more nutrients and good-for-you ingredients.
This Father’s Day or Canada Day, try some
of these smart swap ideas for a healthy barbecue that’s sure to impress even
the most die-hard burger or hot dog fan.
staple: Burgers and dogs
It’s hard not to be tempted by boxed
burgers and packaged hot dogs – they’re quick, easy, and a crowd pleaser with
kids and adults alike. But these highly processed foods are high in sodium and
calories, and low in nutritional value.
Mushroom and black bean burger with goat cheese: Featuring meaty mushrooms and protein-packed black beans, this plant powered option is filling and loaded with nutrients. Serve on whole grain buns for long-lasting energy.
Mediterranean Halloumi sliders: Another meatless alternative, these handheld mini sliders feature a variety of textures and flavours: tangy Halloumi cheese is paired with smoky roasted red peppers and creamy tzatziki. Dial up the flavour even more by spreading olive tapenade – full of healthy fats – on the buns.
Grilled chicken caprese skewers: These grilled chicken skewers are easy to prep ahead of your family festivities. Fresh basil pesto dresses up chicken cubes, while juicy cherry tomatoes play nicely with creamy bocconcini balls. Growing a herb garden this summer? This recipe provides a perfect opportunity to use up some fresh basil.
staple: Creamy potato salad
A ladleful of goopy potato salad may
seem like the perfect accompaniment to grilled mains, but beware: doused in
mayo, this popular side is loaded with fat and calories.
Creamy herb-grilled potato salad: This herby potato salad features the flavours of the traditional version, minus the added calories and fat from the mayo. Chopped celery and radishes add crunch; for a hit of protein, toss in some quartered hard-boiled eggs. Lighten up this potato salad even more by using Gay Lea low fat sour cream.
Creamy cucumber raita: The perfect cool side for a hot summer barbecue, this cucumber raita pairs well with grilled mains. Fresh mint provides a flavour boost, shredded cucumbers add texture, while Gay Lea sour cream lends a satisfying creaminess.
Quinoa salad with grilled veggies: Balancing nutty quinoa and a rainbow of veggies with cottage cheese, this flavourful side packs a powerful nutritional punch. This is a great make-ahead dish that stores well in the fridge and will taste just as good (maybe even better) the next day!
staple: Salty snacks
Bowls brimming with chips or processed
veggie straws are a ubiquitous feature at most barbecues. While these snacks
satisfy a craving for salt and crunchiness, they often have frighteningly high
levels of sodium and are devoid of nutrients.
Make a big batch of popcorn, drizzle lightly with Gay Lea butter, then sprinkle
with some Caesar rimmer. Place in large paper cups or mini paper bags so everyone
has their own popcorn pack.
chip n’ dip:
Swap salty chips for a mix of corn tortilla chips and crunchy veggies, paired with
a lightened-up version of this veggie-loaded fiesta layered dip.
Simply substitute Gay Lea Low Fat sour cream for the Gold Premium version.
snack mix: Toss popcorn with some mini
pretzels, banana chips, and chocolate-covered raisins for a fibre-rich sweet
and salty snack kids (and adults!) will love.
staple: Packaged frozen treats
There’s nothing like cooling off with a
frozen treat after a satiating barbecued meal. Boxed frozen goodies are tasty,
satisfying, and – you guessed it – high in sugar and low in nutritional
Grilled fruit kabobs: Jazz up summer fruit by making these colourful grilled
kabobs. Served with a creamy sour cream honey dip, this is the perfect
sweet finish to your Father’s Day or Canada Day celebration.
Honeydew and coconut frappe: Who needs a fancy (and pricey) concoction from a posh coffee shop when you can make this delicious homemade frappe? Combining refreshing honeydew with tropical coconut, this dairy-free beverage is a cool and creamy treat the whole family will love.
Summer berry protein popsicles: Loaded with berries and packed with
protein, these fruit
pops are a healthy alternative to boxed popsicles or ice cream bars. Bonus:
you can make these ahead of time and store them in the freezer.
Is there a more quintessential summer
beverage than a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade? This iconic drink is sweet,
refreshing, and has heaps of added sugar: there’s about six teaspoons’ worth in
a 12-ounce glass of the store-bought variety.
water: For a fresh, fizzy drink,
muddle some mint leaves in a pitcher, toss in some lemon slices and ice, then
fill with sparkling water.
tea: Make a pitcher of unsweetened
iced tea, then add in lemon wedges and a large handful of blueberries for a
fruity, thirst-quenching drink.
a summery spin on a London Fog latte, make a batch of iced Earl Grey tea, stir
in some milk, and finish with a splash of vanilla extract. Served in a mason
jar over ice, this is a perfect way to wash down your barbecue meal.