Photo by Paul Buceta
Who doesn’t live for long weekends in the summer? It’s the perfect time to get together with friends and family, soak up some sunshine and get your grill on. As a nutritionist, I am always looking for healthy barbeque recipes, both for serving at my own backyard parties and for bringing to other people’s homes as well. If you’re a fit foodie that loves to join in the fun but is mindful of her healthy lifestyle, you’ve no doubt done the same. So to help you out, I’ve put together this delicious and completely clean menu (cocktail included) so that you can enjoy social events all summer without having to stress about staying on track.
First, I’ve chosen sweet potato burgers made with American sweet potatoes. I love working with sweet potatoes for two main reasons: one, to satisfy my plant-based peeps and two, I have a serious love for them! Did you know they are rich in B6, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids? They are the perfect base for a hearty, great-tasting, grill-friendly meat alternative.
Not to worry, I didn’t forget about our meat-eating friends. The Turkey Feta Burger I’ve included as the second main is a fan favorite around my house and with guests, and is possibly the easiest burger you will ever make.
For sides, I absolutely love fresh guacamole with a colorful vegetable platter and a big, seasonal salad. Guacamole is a delicious way to get a dose of good fats, which will satiate you much better than a creamy, processed dip (as a bonus, the guacamole can also be used as a burger topping instead of mayo or ketchup). For a salad, you have to try my rainbow crunch salad with ginger date dressing—it’s a crowd favorite!
Of course, no summer gathering is complete without a drink or two. Being the health-conscious girl that I am, I created this hydrating cocktail with coconut water (my go-to brand is Thirsty Buddha) as the base, as opposed to anything artificially sweetened. My Lovely Lavender Lemon Cocktail is the perfect refresher, with or without alcohol.
The key to creating the perfect menu for your backyard gathering is to choose foods that are colorful, nutrient dense, and filling. That way you can kick back and relax, without worrying about derailing your healthy diet. Bon appetite!
Sweet Potato Burgers
Prep Time: 45 min Total Time: 1 hr
Makes 4 servings
1 ½ pounds American sweet potatoes (peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
2 Tbsp tamari sauce
½ red onion (peeled and finely diced)
1 cup organic chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1 ½ cups organic rolled oats
½ cup cashews (finely chopped)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1. Preheat oven to 400º F. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes and garlic with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
2. In your food processor pulse to combine sweet potato, tamari, onion, and chickpeas.
3. Remove mixture to a large bowl, add the rolled oats and cashews and mix to combine. Form into five patties.
4. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes) flip and cook another 4 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
Serve on fresh greens or a whole grain bun top with sliced tomato and fresh guacamole.
Turkey Feta Burgers
Prep Time: 10 min Total Time: 20 min
Makes 4 servings
1 pkg ground turkey (preferably organic)
½ cup goat feta cheese
1-2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
Fresh herbs and spices to your liking
1. Heat grill to medium-high. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl using clean hands. Form the mixture into patties and place on the grill.
2. Grill for approximately 5-7 minutes per side or until golden brown and juices run clear. Cooking times will vary depending on the grill.
3. Serve on a gluten-free bun or on top of Boston Bibb lettuce greens with garnishes of your choice.
Total Time: 10 min
Makes 6-8 servings
4 ripe Hass avocados
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl.
2. Immediately add the lemon juice, hot sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Mash the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced.
3. Add the tomatoes and taste for salt and pepper. Mix well and serve immediately with corn chips and fresh cut veggies.
Rainbow Crunch Salad with Ginger Date Dressing
Prep Time: 10 min Total Time: 1 hr 10 min (incl. dressing)
Makes 6 servings
½ container of organic mixed greens
Handful each: organic collards and kale, shredded finely
Handful of pea or broccoli shoots
½ red cabbage, shredded
Grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large carrot, grated
½ yellow pepper, julienned
Thinly sliced cucumbers
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, pitted and diced
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
2 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp raw cashews
2 Tbsp dried cranberries or blueberries
4 Tbsp goat cheese (optional)
Ginger Date Dressing
½ cup raw unsalted cashews
6 small dates
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
Juice from half a large lemon (2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp Braggs or tamari
¼ cup water
1. Soak cashews and dates for at least one hour. Strain. In a blender, blend cashews, dates, ginger, Braggs and water until smooth.
2. Layer your greens and veggies and top with crunchy nuts and seeds, avocado, berries and optional goat cheese.
3. Toss with the Ginger Date dressing and enjoy this super satisfying, beautiful meal.
Lovely Lavender Lemon Cocktail
Total Time: 5 min
Makes 1 serving
1 cup coconut water
1 tsp coconut sugar or raw, local honey
1 tsp dried lavender
¼ fresh squeezed lemon (save the wedge for garnish)
1 oz vodka (optional)
½ cup ice
In a tall glass add the coconut sugar or honey, coconut water, fresh lemon juice, vodka and ice. Stir and add dried lavender. Stir again until the lavender is well mixed. Add a wedge of lemon for garnish. If making a mocktail, omit the vodka and add more coconut water.
Jenn Pike is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bestselling author of The Simplicity Project: A Simple, No-Nonsense Approach To Losing Weight & Changing Your Body Forever!
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