Raise your hand if Summer is your favorite season? Keep your hand in the air if it’s predominantly because of the food! Ok ok, they are plenty of other reasons too. But let’s face it after a day of swimming, fishing, or sun baking by the pool, the BEST way to spend summer nights, is with a BBQ! Am I right?

BBQ season is the best season if you ask me, because it is so simple to keep things fresh, clean, healthy & delicious. Now listen up, navigating your way through someone else’s BBQ is a completely different scenario. It is sometimes not the most simple of tasks but if you’re invited to bring a dish, perhaps you can also use some of these tips & tricks to keep your platter healthy and nutritious.

Plus, whether you’re attending someone else’s or throwing your own, a summertime grill-out is a great time to share your favorite recipes with your family & friends. Here are some healthy & delicious, fun alternatives to your regular grill foods. 

AmzPlatter1. Appetizers

These “small snacks” are usually the ones that get you! They look small on the serving platter but after having two or three mini quiches or pizzas or pinwheels or wings, those small portions are always more than a meal…and we haven’t even eaten dinner yet!

The only saving grace of the first course is generally the veggie platter—as a health nut, you’ll find me lingering here more often than not. The only problem is, they can be so boring! So instead of your basic carrot-celery-tomato-cucumber mix, add some multicolored, phytonutrient-rich veggies you don’t typically find on just any platter.

  • Bell peppers. The brighter the pepper, the higher the concentration of antioxidants and vitamin C.
  • Asparagus. Raw asparagus fancies up your platter, and it happens to be a great source of protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
  • Squash. Another vivaciously-colored and great-tasting veggie that you can sink your teeth into. They are also a great source of vitamins B1, B6, and C, folic acid, fiber, and potassium. Just like bell peppers, the richer the color, the richer the nutrients.
  • Broccolini. Sometimes mistakenly called baby broccoli. Everybody loves babies, right? When it comes to broccolini’s nutritional value, yes. Baby broccoli has a nice deep green color and contains protein, potassium, folic acid, calcium, iron, fiber, and vitamins A and C.Avocado Margarita

Ditch the store bought ranch (I highly doubt you can pronounce any of the ingredients on that list anyhow!) and instead add some hummus spiced up with a little garlic or cayenne!

2. Drinks

Ok ok a nice craft beer or local wine selection makes for a complimentary addition to the party…but you’re not throwing a frat party! Keep it light- after all, people will most likely bring their own! My favorite thing to do is to fill pitchers with a variety of iced herbal teas and of course, have plenty of water on hand. Better yet, add some slices of fruit or cucumber to entice your guests to hydrate more!

Seafood BBQ3. Main course

Think ALL the proteins. Ditch the hot dogs and hamburgers and get a creative! Our current favorite (maybe because it reminds me of home) is to grill fish on the BBQ. Choose a nice moist fish like mahi-mahi or salmon. Wrap the fillet in aluminum foil and rub it with seasoning, lemon, and just a dash of olive oil. Place your piece of fish in the center, loosely wrap it and place it on the BBQ. You can cook up to five of these at a time, and if you keep them wrapped until the guests are ready to grub, they stay warm (but be sure they don’t over cook!) Leave on the grill for 10 to 12 minutes and you have yourself an easy meal. Don’t like fish? No problem, marinade steak, pork or chicken breasts in a homemade marinade or seasoning rub. 

4. Dessert

This should be the least of your worries. Dessert in summer is so easy thanks to all the seasonal fresh fruit. A cost effective, fresh and super pretty display idea is to cut a watermelon in half and scoop out the inside. Fill it with all types of fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, melon, bananas, peaches, plums, and kiwi. It always looks so appealing to guests and I love that I can prepare it ahead of time too! Kids are coming? Let them make their own fruit kebabs (they love the idea of playing with their food) or perhaps serve the fruit with a little dollop of ice cream or yogurt on top too!

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