Healthy Eating Guide for BBQ’s, Picnics, and Parties

The Healthiest Food Choices to Eat at Your Next Party

Summer picnics and barbeques can take your diet on an unhealthy voyage to calorie town. Without a game plan and the right knowledge about the food you’re putting into your body, you won’t be able to make an educated decision to keep you on track.

Here’s a quick tip guide for some of the healthiest foods to eat at your next get-together:


Shrimp are not only super easy and quick to grill up or serve as a shrimp cocktail, but it’s also low in calories, fat and has a good amount of protein per serving. Shrimp also contains 48% of your daily recommended value of Selenium, which promotes a healthy immune system.


A 4 oz steak naturally has 0 grams of carbs and contains between 20 to 36 grams of protein. The protein you get from red meat contains all the amino acids necessary to build muscle and repair tissue. Steak also contains a form of iron that is more easily absorbed than the iron found in plant-based foods, like beans, to help your red blood cells transport enough oxygen to all the other parts of your body. Iron deficiencies can also contribute to learning problems, low energy and behavioral issues, so this isn’t something to take lightly! However, some steak can have high levels of fat, so make sure you choose a leaner cut of steak when eating red meat. So, go ahead and enjoy a Certified Angus Beef Burger, but maybe opt for a lettuce wrap or go bunless to avoid the carbs!


Chicken is one of the healthiest types of lean protein, as it helps promote muscle growth, supports a healthy body weight and aids weight loss. It’s also rich in phosphorus, a mineral that supports your teeth and bones, and promotes healthy kidney, liver, and central nervous system function. So you may have known that chicken is healthy for all of these reasons, but did you know that it’s a natural antidepressant? Chicken and turkey are high in tryptophan, an amino acid which gives you a comforting feeling after consuming it; In fact, it can even increase serotonin levels in your brain to enhance your mood! So, grab a chicken kabob or enjoy a tasty guacamole chicken burger at your next picnic for a protein packed meal!


Deviled eggs typically contain mayonnaise, which isn’t exactly a healthy ingredient – but when faced with brownies, hot dogs, and BBQ potato chips at the picnic – go with the deviled eggs! Hard boiled eggs are packed with protein, and when made right, deviled eggs can be a decently healthy option at your party. Check out these great tips Eating Well has on How to Make Deviled Eggs Healthier.


Did you know, a half cup of beans contains as much protein as an ounce of broiled steak? This “magical fruit” is also loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full longer. But keep in mind, some of the delicious baked beans (like Bush’s Bacon and Brown Sugar flavor) are loaded with sugar and salt, so be conscious of what type of beans are being served at the picnic!


Combining some of the protein rich items from above, chili is a nice spicy mix of ground beef (or lean ground chicken and turkey), fiber-rich beans, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions. Adding spices to any dish is a great way to add flavor without adding extra calories, sodium or sugar. In fact, cayenne pepper, cumin, and black pepper can even boost your metabolism! Make your chili in a crock pot for an easy entree to bring to a tailgate or to feed an army at your next family gathering.


Corn has a bad reputation because it’s frequently turned into high fructose corn syrup, which is found in packaged, processed foods that aren’t good for you. But real corn is actually a healthy whole grain. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Foods with a low glycemic index like corn, digest very slowly and cause a low rise in blood sugar, as opposed to some sugary foods found at the picnic like pies and baked goods. A large ear of corn has about 150 calories, which is around the same as a serving of chips – however, the fiber in corn will help you feel full much longer than those potato chips ever will! So, If there’s corn on the cob at the barbeque, sit back and enjoy it!

Just remember, the corn is only as healthy as you make it; if you add butter, parmesan cheese, or salt, your corn just got a lot worse for you. Add flavor using spices such as pepper, fresh herbs and garlic powder instead.


This is a no brainer – get your veggies in! Do I even need to explain why? Not only are vegetables obesity’s arch enemy, but they are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and are low in calories. Dip it in hummus or a little bit of ranch, and you have a delicious little guilt-free snack.
Image courtesy of Geoff Peters


Whether it’s watermelon, strawberries, peaches, grapes – if there’s fruit at your cookout, grab it and enjoy! Fruit is nature’s candy, typically containing a lot of water, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. However, most fruit trays come with a ever-so-tempting fruit dip, which is most likely not a healthy addition. But, you’re at a cookout, feel free to splurge a little (I mean come on, you’re already being good eating fruit, right?).


As a rule of thumb, try to avoid the dip at any party… except Guacamole! “Guac” is typically made using avocado, tomatoes, lime, cilantro, green peppers, jalapenos, and onions. So, not only is Guac naturally delicious, but it’s packed with nutrition and healthy fats too! It’s also very versatile; you can enjoy a dollop on your burger, use it as a hearty dip for your tostito chips or summer vegetables, or even add it to your deviled eggs!

Now you have it, a quick tip guide so you can stay on track while attending a party, BBQ, or tailgate!

Remember, Five Star Home Foods has entertainment packages available to use for cookouts! Ask your culinary consultant about this at your next appointment.

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