Labor Day recognizes “...the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country” which many of us celebrate over a long weekend spent outside with friends, family and barbecue… which may or may not be accompanied by high-calorie foods and snacks you tend to gravitate towards.

Do not fret, friend! And definitely don’t turn down an invitation to an informal affair just because you’re concerned about sitting around high-calorie dishes and beverages which are perpetually tempting your taste buds. Remember those healthy burger and taco recipes I shared a while back? It’s completely possible to grill a delicious dinner your guests will devour while keeping your nutrition in check.

BBQ Recipes

First, let’s start with the go-to grillables for your end of summer soiree:

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Kabobs are a simple way to combine your favorite flavors together for a quick grill meal. One take on this could be Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs! Start with boneless skinless chicken breast, add green pepper to your skewer, then douse with a little salt, lime and paprika before searing.

BBQ foil packs

Similar to a salad bar, each person can add the ingredients and dressings of their choosing to make it fit their own flavor profile. Or, you can prep a foil pack in advance if you’re traveling to another party (more on that below) so you can know exactly what you’ll be feasting on.

Pulled pork street tacos

Downshiftology has a recipe too good not to share! Check out their gluten-free/paleo pulled pork street tacos for a different take on a classic bbq dish.

Summer Sides

If you’ll be attending someone else’s party instead of hosting your own, here are a few healthy side dishes you could prep ahead of time and share with the group:

Cowboy salsa

Similar to tacos, salsa is not inherently “unhealthy” either especially when you’re combining fresh ingredients. To make a cowboy salsa - which I guarantee will be just as filling as any pile of nachos - combine unsalted canned black beans, cherub tomatoes, grilled corn kernels, onion and fresh avocado.

Caprese salad

Missouri tomatoes are ripe for the picking! Just chop a few heirlooms, slice some fresh mozzarella and basil, then top it all with balsamic vinegar.

Cold green bean almondine

While the easiest go-to might be a salad, you could also serve more traditional “fall” dishes - like green bean almondine - tailored for the summer heat. Instead of serving this warm or hot, you’ll end up blanching the green beans immediately after they’re removed from the stovetop, then moving them to the refrigerator to cool off before preparing them for your picnic.

Sweet Treats

And for all of us with a sweet tooth, here are two more recipes to give you your sugar fix without the sugar rush:

Fresh Fruit Mix

Watermelon, berries, banana, apples, pineapple… you name it, you can mix it together to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth!

Pineapple Whip

Speaking of pineapple, Recipes to Nourish has a wonderful recipe combining it and coconut milk to create a cold-and-creamy treat.

Banana Boats

Now if you’re looking for a more decadent Labor Day dessert, then I recommend the banana boat. (Think s’mores, only using a banana as your base instead!) Slice open the concave portion of your banana, making sure to split the peel without completely splitting the fruit. Fill the insides with the toppings of your choosing, such as Lily’s stevia-sweetened premium dark chocolate, strawberries, granola, and/or nut butter of your choice (like roasted almond butter). Then wrap the banana loosely in foil and toss on the grill for a very short time, mainly to be sure the chocolate melts!

Pick and choose, mix and match, or tweak to your own liking - the options are endless! Do you plan on recreating one of these recipes for Labor Day, or do you have another idea you can’t wait to cook-up? Share your favorite healthy Labor Day dishes with us and find out what others are cooking up this Labor Day Celebration!

Even though you’ve used the hashtag #mealprepmonday in the past, meal planning doesn’t always happen every single week. You come home after a long day at work and realize you don’t have dinner planned. It’s too hot to heat up the kitchen, and you don’t want to dedicate the next hour to cooking over the stove anyway. You open the fridge because it’s cool, but also because you’re hoping to scrounge up enough leftovers to feed your family. Then you turn to that dated box of Tuna Helper in the pantry and…

... Toss it back in, because you have five go-to healthy dinners you can dish out in 30-minutes or less!

Included with each meal idea are a few options on how to replace ingredients to match your dietary goals - whether you’re low-carb, keto, low-sodium, or vegetarian!

Meal #1: Super-stuffed veggie boats

What can you stuff inside a vegetable and then grill to perfection? Turns out, a lot!

Bell peppers, zucchini, acorn squash, butternut squash, mushrooms, russet and sweet potatoes can each act as an “edible bowl” to contain mixtures of protein and toppings to match various flavor profiles. Think southwest blends, Mediterranean spice, teriyaki or even Italian! The common ingredients between each will be similar, such as lean protein and an additional vegetable, but the variety will come from the fresh herbs and spices you add. Craving Chinese? Add a dash of liquid aminos, ginger, and turmeric. Want Mexican? Spice it up with cumin and cayenne. Mediterranean? Add more cumin but also add extra cinnamon.

Approximate prep/cooking time = 30 minutes

Meal #2: All the tacos

Yes, you read that correctly. Tacos are often considered to be a treat meal rather than a healthy go-to dinner, but it’s all in the ingredients you choose! (Filling six shells with high-fat ground beef and a cup of shredded cheese definitely does not count as the healthy option we’re suggesting here…)

Start with a minimally processed base, such as a simple corn tortilla shell which has not been fried with a bunch of additives. Then choose a lean protein such as 93/7 grass fed ground beef, boneless/skinless chicken breast, or white fish such as cod. Finally: top it with freshness. Local tomatoes, peppers, grilled corn, and cilantro will each add a lot of flavors, while avocado will help tone down the spice. If you really want to add cheese, then try a dash of nutritional yeast! “Nooch” offers a savory, cheddar taste with minimal macros.

Photo credit: savortonight via Pixabay

Approximate prep/cooking time = 30 minutes

Meal #3: Burgers and fries

"Wait… first tacos, now burgers?"

Burgers also tend to get a bad rap because of the “stereotypical” burger most of us think of when it comes to summer barbeques. But again, they don’t have to be unhealthy! You can combine the right ingredients to make them both nutritious and delicious!

Again, start with a leaner protein option, such as 93/7 grass fed ground beef, ground chicken breast, or ground turkey as your base. Most of us savor the taste, so don’t forget to add the right spices to pair with your protein, such as paprika, cumin, sea salt, and pepper.

Now for the fries - just make your own! Cut a couple of russet potatoes long and spritz the batch with a teaspoon of avocado or coconut oil (as both cook well at high temperatures). Give them a 10-15 minute head start on the grill before you cook your burgers, depending on how thin you slice them.

Approximate prep/cooking time = 30 minutes

Meal #4: Farmer’s market fresh

The local farmer’s markets feature a variety of fresh produce, especially on Saturday’s when the majority of local growers set up a booth at The Columbia Farmers Market in Parkade Plaza. The top in-season selection includes: herbs, tomatoes, corn, zucchini and beans.

Grab a recyclable bag and cash, and shop the aisles. Think of which flavor sounds good, then pick out one protein and two veggie options you can toss on the grill. Corn-on-the-cobb and green beans are both quick to grill alongside chicken breasts. Similarly, you can buy tomatoes and basil to make your go-to parmesan (using either chicken breast or eggplant - both of which are available at the market!)

Approximate prep/cooking time = 30 minutes

Meal #5: Build-your-own-bowl (BYOB)

This version of “BYOB” is different than your collegiate definition. Often during hectic evenings when you’re running around shuttling kiddos from one activity to another, it feels easier to simply stop at a fast food joint than it does to “make” something at home. Instead of spending 10-minutes in the drive-through, spend those same 10-minutes running into a nearby grocery store with a salad bar. Each person can build their own bowl to meet their cravings while adding flavor, nutrition, as well as keeping the cost minimal.

Have you considered how you could build a salad bar “bowl,” take the ingredients home and toss them in a pan to heat up? This can provide a simple stir-fry or southwest option if you aren’t craving raw veggies - especially since the produce is pre-chopped and the meat has already been cooked!

Approximate prep/cooking time = 15 minutes

Dessert bonus: Fresh grilled fruit

Next time your grill is hot-and-ready, try skewering strawberries, peaches, banana and/or watermelon on a kabob and grilling it for a few minutes! You’ll find the heat caramelizes the natural sugars and brings out a subtle flavor you may not have experienced before.

Approximate prep/cooking time = 10 minutes

Which meal are you going to try first?

We want to hear from you! Please share your experience Instagram-style with a photo of the recipes you tried, how fast it was to make, and anything you may have changed to make it match your family’s taste!

© 2022 Legacy Life Fitness
Website design and development by Pixel Jam Digital

© 2022 Legacy Life Fitness
Website design and development by Pixel Jam Digital

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