Kicking off summer with a food-filled celebration? It’s easy to give in to tradition and indulge in calorie-laden barbeque favorites like cheeseburgers, heavy pasta salads or sugary desserts. But there are plenty of ways to lighten up your menu without sacrificing flavor. Whether you’re hosting your own feast or contributing to a potluck party, we’ve got a few ideas that will slim down the festivities while still making your tummy and taste buds happy. From lean shrimp skewers to a smarter sangria, check out these 10 tasty Memorial Day recipes. Fire up that grill, it’s about to be your healthiest summer yet!
1. Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers
No meat? No problem! These black bean patties are a tasty alternative to beef for your vegetarian (or flexitarian) guests. They’ve got only one gram of fat, but still pack 12 grams of protein apiece. Make sure to moisten your hands when creating the burgers so the mixture doesn’t become too sticky.
2. Roasted Asparagus
The quintessential spring vegetable, asparagus is an excellent source of fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K. Use a spice-infused olive oil as a marinade, then roast your vegetables the oven with feta and pistachios for a decadent finish. Your dish will be ready for serving in 20 minutes.
3. Tequila-Glazed Grilled Shrimp
Take your BBQ south of the border with some scrumptious shrimp. Orange juice, tequila, jalapeno and garlic combine for a magnificent marinade. Serve this dish as an appetizer or grill up some veggies with your shrimp for a refreshing dinner.
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4. Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria
This fruit-filled booze has just five grams of sugar per serving, which is way less than the average sweet cocktail. So raise a glass of homemade sangria instead! Your immune system will thank you for the healthy dose of vitamin C.
5. Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Red meat can still be part of a healthy diet so long as you choose lean, high-quality cuts, and Memorial Day is the perfect time to grill up some steak! Plus, our tangy chimichurri sauce has extra arugula for extra phytochemicals.
6. Pork Lettuce Wraps
A crisp lettuce crunch is a wonderful replacement if bread is a no-go. You’ll be a party superhero if you serve up umami-filled pork wraps with plum sauce and fresh limes. Bonus: Pork cooks quickly so you can whip these up easily if an impromptu get-together occurs.
7. Pasta Primavera with Pesto
Forget the mayo-laden pasta salads that are standard at summer parties. This gluten-free and vegan entrée lightens things up while also sneaking some veggies onto everyone’s plate. Make this the day before your fiesta and serve it up cold as a side dish.
8. Crispy Oven “Fried” Chicken
Love the texture of fried foods? This inventive recipe mimics the crunchy skin of regular fried chicken by swapping in a spicy crushed cornflake coating. You save yourself over 150 calories and 10 grams of fat per drumstick.
9. Chocolate Chip Fro-Yo Sandwiches
Do you scream for ice cream? These 52-calorie frozen yogurt sammies opt for fat-free frozen yogurt and low-fat wafer cookies, so go ahead and have three! Let them set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving so they can harden properly.
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10. Gazpacho Shrimp Salad
Light and spicy, this bowl of greens mimics the flavors of the famous Spanish soup. But don’t be fooled: With 27 grams of protein, the dish will keep you full and satisfied for a day of summer revelry.
11. Matcha-Cucumber Lemonade
Upgrade your poolside drink to a beverage with benefits. One cup of matcha packs as many antioxidants as 10 cups of regular tea, so we added the finely milled Japanese tea to this cucumber and lemonade concoction.
12. Mojito Popsicles
At only 30 calories a pop, these minty treats won’t derail your diet. Freeze up the mixture at least 12 hours before your shindig.
Originally posted May 23, 2014. Updated May 2015.