Healthier Summer Cookout Recipe Swaps

healthy summer cookout recipe swaps

There’s always a reason to have a summer cookout filled with comforting recipes and lots of booze – from Memorial Day, to the 4th of July, and everything that happens in between like family gatherings or birthdays. The  grill seems to always be on and poppin’ and traditional meals like potato salad and burgers being served. Yet with all the summer cookouts, there comes the added calories and foods that may hinder all of your hard work trying to stay on track with a healthy eating plan and your efforts in the gym.

So I swung by Windy City Live to share some of my favorite recipe and ingredient hacks to make your summer cookout just a little bit healthier! You can either watch the video (it’s entertaining I promise), or check out the tips below:

Summer Cookout Recipe Swaps

1: Make your burgers healthier (which will save you up to 500 calories) – More and more people are trying to reduce their meat consumption, so for those of you that are skeptical of going vegetarian or vegan, but still want to sneak veggies into everything you eat, try this trick: make your patties with half turkey meat, and half quinoa/finely chopped carrot and kale.  This way you’re not going completely vegetarian with your burgers, you’ll still get some satisfaction since there’s ground turkey in there, but there will be added nutrients from the quinoa + veggies. You can also take it a step further and create an open face burger with no top bun to cut calories, or go low carb and use collard green wraps instead of using any buns.

2: Say bye to mayo and buttercream (which can save you up to 250 calories) –  You’ll find mayo or buttercream in almost over half of traditional summer side dishes. So instead of drenching your potatoes, pasta and more in mayonnaise and cream, incorporate different ingredients that still have a big punch of flavor like vinegars, lemon, and pesto.

3: Reduce your  sugar consumption with healthier BBQ sauce (that could cut out up to  20 grams of sugar) – Store bought brands can be packed with sugar and additives. Instead of using ketchup, use fresh tomatoes and pasta sauce to cut your sugar intake in half! And let’s be real, no one uses just one serving of BBQ sauce. A lot of us load up on this condiment in our burgers and bean dishes and then end up eating 4+ servings, which could add up to over 60g of sugar! 

4: Indulge in something sweet with a healthier dessert option (that could save you 150 calories) – Desserts could add up to an additional 500-600 extra calories to your day if you go overboard. So naturally focusing on fruit based desserts can save you some of the processed and refined sugars you find in most sweets and give you an extra dose of nutrients. My favorite trifle dessert recipe below is dairy-free and gluten free, aaand still packed with flavor. 

Now let’s get on to the recipes!

Healthy Summer Cookout Recipes



  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1 cup of quinoa (cooked)
  • 1 cup of kale
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Coconut amino acids

1. Chop the carrots, onion and kale  into thinly diced pieces, then throw them in a large mixing bowl with the ground turkey and quinoa. Blend it all together with your hands. 
2. Add garlic powder, onion,  and coconut amino acids to the bowl and continue to mix.
3. Heat a skillet with coconut oil, then mold each patty into a fist size portion and place 2-3 of them in the skillet. Cook them on each side for and flip them about 2-3 minutes until they are well cooked through.
4. Serve as an open face burger on a gluten free or whole wheat bun. Top with dijon mustard, coleslaw, or BBQ sauce for taste!

This is a very intuitive recipe, so all you do is cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Once the pasta is cooked, add a drizzle of olive oil, about 1 cup of store bought (just look for healthier versions) pesto,3 cups of slightly sauteed spinach,  a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic + onion powder – and voila!


  • 1/2 teaspoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid aminos
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • A sprinkle of cayenne pepper, paprika, sea salt, and chili powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender, and serve.



For the white cake:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the cream filling:

  • 1 can of coconut cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 dates
  • 1 cup of cashews soaked
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the rest:

  • 2 packages of blueberries
  • 2 packages of strawberries

DIRECTIONS for the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then add all of the dry ingredients in a bowl: sugar, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and powder. Whisk it all together until it’s all well blended.
2. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl: coconut oil, milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Whisk again until well blended and thick.
3. Coat a 9 x 12 baking pan with your oil, and place the batter mixture into the baking pan.
5. Bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if the cake is done by placing a fork in the cake to see if it come out clean. If it does, it means it’s done.
6. Move to a cooling rack to let cool, then cut into 2 by 1 inch squares.

DIRECTIONS for the cashew cream:
1. Soak your cashews in water in a bowl for about an hour (do this while cooking other recipes)
2. In a blender, blend 1 can of coconut cream and the cashews  together.
3. Add the dates, salt, and vanilla, salt, for about 4 minutes until thick and creamy.

*AFTER your cake and cream is completed, follow these directions:
1. In a clear bowl, layer the bottom of the bowl with your cake squares.
2. Create a new layer of blueberries, followed by a layer of your cashew cream, followed by another layer of strawberries. Then repeat this until you fill up the bowl. 
2. Thinly slice strawberries and place them on top of the layered trifle in a circle formation until you fill up the center. Serve and enjoy!

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