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Nutritious Side Dishes: 5 Healthy Alternatives To Barbecue Staples

Yes, six-pack abs and barbecues slabs can coexist. Keep your body ready to head to the beach with these flavorful, healthy alternatives to potato chips and baked beans. Bring one to the next party!

Summer is here! That means poolside barbecues and six-packs at the lake—six-pack abs that is! If you're protecting that swimsuit body, then you're probably also shaking your head at that calorie-laden, delicious grub tempting you on the picnic table behind the grill. You'll eat the grilled chicken, but Aunt Edna's mayonnaise-infused potato salad just has no place in your diet.

The solution is to bring your own side dish! And, I don't mean just grabbing a head of lettuce and calling it lunch. These fresh, flavorful, simple, recipes can be tossed together quickly and enjoyed by all. If you want a healthy meal, feel free kick up the protein content by adding lean meats!

Bring any of these five healthy side dishes to the next family barbecue. I'm sure Aunt Edna would approve!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

What the kale? Just when you thought your diet regimen couldn't get any better, we went and added some green to your sweet potato. Similar to spinach, kale contains plenty of copper and iron as well as vitamins A, C, K, folic acid, calcium, and potassium. Tuck Edna's potato salad recipe back in the cookbook where it belongs and make the switch to sweet.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 tbsp olive oil with salt and pepper.
  3. On a baking sheet, spread sweet potatoes in a thin layer and roast for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender.
  4. While the potatoes roast, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  5. Add garlic and onions and saute until caramelized.
  6. Cut kale leaves from stem and into bite-sized pieces. Add to pan with garlic and onions. Cook until wilted.
  7. In a large bowl, pour kale and onion mixture. Drizzle mixture with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Add roasted potatoes to bowl and mix.
  9. Place bowl in refrigerator until salad as cooled to room temperature.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size (Serves 4)
Amount per serving
Calories 81.5
Total Fat 4.3g
Total Carbs 10.3g
Protein 1.3g

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad PDF (103 KB)

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

What's the ingredient for the ultimate chef? Fish sauce! Add a little savory succulence with this Eastern seasoning staple. Although it sounds fishy, this salad is as delicious as it is nutrient-dense. Rich in vitamins and minerals such as C, K, E, B, and potassium, a little avocado goes a long way. This side dish is a great alternative to other thigh-curdling barbecue must-haves.

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.
  2. Toss gently and serve.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size (Serves 4)
Amount per serving
Calories 116
Total Fat 7.4g
Total Carbs 10.8g
Protein 3g

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad PDF (102 KB)

Citrus Summer Slaw

If the Colonel's famous slaw keeps showing up at the neighborhood feast, it's time to make a change. Confect this citrus summer slaw instead. The assortment of fruits and veggies make this recipe light and summery. If you prefer oranges to grapefruit, make the switch. Both fruits pack a punch of vitamins C and A, as well as potassium and calcium. Just avoid the bucket of fried chicken and your beach body will not be bested.

  • 1/2 small Cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1 Tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 small Grapefruit or Orange, segmented and chopped
  • 2 tbsp Zero sodium Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Stevia in the Raw
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl.
  2. Toss and serve!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size (Serves 2)
Amount per serving
Calories 179
Total Fat 1.1g
Total Carbs 21.9g
Protein 5.9g

Citrus Summer Slaw PDF (102 KB)

Cucumber Radish Salad

This salad is easy on your waistline and also benefits your overall health, since both veggies contain healthy plant chemicals and fiber. Not sweet enough? Add a little agave nectar. It's a great alternative to high fructose corn syrup.

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium size bowl.
  2. Toss and serve!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size (Serves 2)
Amount per serving
Calories 111
Total Fat 7.4g
Total Carbs 12.8g
Protein 1.5g

Cucumber Radish Salad PDF (102 KB)

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp—we love shrimp! If you're looking to pack your palate with a little protein, this is your go-to side. Shrimp is low in calories, high in protein, and boasts 18 vitamins and minerals. It's also almost completely carb-free. Reap the benefits!

  • 1/2 lb large Shrimp, cooked, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 Red Onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 Avocado, chopped
  • 1 Lime Juice
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  1. Add ingredients to a medium bowl.
  2. Toss and refrigerate before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size (Serves 4)
Amount per serving
Calories 111
Total Fat 4.4g
Total Carbs 5.5g
Protein 12.5g

Shrimp Ceviche PDF (102 KB)

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