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Summer Cookout Food Ideas, w/ Healthy, Plant-Based Recipes!

Whether it’s a summer holiday, camping trip, weekend gathering, or just some fun-in-the-sun, you can still enjoy delicious food!

Here are some of my favorite ways to stick to what I know is a little healthier, while sharing in festivities with family and friends.

Make plant foods a priority, no matter where you are, to stay energized & feeling good amidst the summer fun!


Sides & Salads

There are a couple simple tricks to making your classic side dishes healthier: lighten the dressings and increase the veggies! Lessening or eliminating that half a jar of mayo cuts SO many calories right off the bat. It also allows you to taste the full flavors of herbs and seasonings. I’m excited to share with you some of my family’s favorites.

  • Potato Salad & Cole Slaw: You don’t have to throw out your family recipe! Instead, change up the dressing by cutting out the mayo or miracle whip (or cutting it down to a tablespoon or two) and replacing it with some of these:

    • lemon juice

    • apple cider vinegar

    • Dijon mustard (or your favorite kind)

    • extra virgin olive oil

    • salt & pepper

    • onion, garlic, and fresh herbs (parsley and chives in either, dill or rosemary on potatoes)

  • Pasta Salad: Choose a whole grain or bean pasta over white flour and you’ve already improved! Then:

    • Load up your pasta with cooked broccoli, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, peppers, onion and garlic, and any other seasonal vegetables you love.

    • For a protein & fiber boost, add chickpeas!

    • Throw in your favorite fresh herbs

    • Lightly dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper

  • My Chickpea Avocado Salad: This is a super light alternative to the typical starchy sides. Fiber and protein fill you up and crisp veggies refresh you! Here's the recipe.


For the Grill


Sometimes you just want to grab something easy from the fridge or freezer and throw it on the grill. For those occasions, I like to make a big batch of bean or veggies burgers and freeze them. Add a whole grain roll and your favorite toppings, or skip the roll and enjoy a burger on a salad or with sides. A few of my favorite recipes are below (and the first two are gluten-free).

Carrot Dogs

A few years ago, if you had said the phrase “carrot dog,” I would have laughed in your face! There was no WAY you could make a carrot resemble anything CLOSE to a hotdog… Well, I was proven wrong, and now I challenge you to try it yourself! They are so easy – steam, marinade, grill! Here’s how! (Note: my mom likes to use liquid aminos and olive oil in her marinade instead.)


Mid-Day Munching

Ready for some guilt-free snacking? Munching your way through a day in the sun can be delicious and nutritious for the whole family with a coupe of these go-tos:

  • Easy Homemade Hummus: Don’t overthink this. Dump all the ingredients in a food processor or blender cup, process until smooth, and enjoy! I love hummus with raw veggies or triangles of whole wheat pita bread.

    • 15 oz can of drained chickpeas (reserve the liquid)

    • 1/4 cup lemon juice

    • 1/4 cup of chickpea liquid (called aquafaba)

    • salt to taste

    • optional: garlic, tahini, other seasonings

  • Step Up Your Salsa by adding black beans and cooked corn. Bam.

  • My Buffalo “Chicken” Jackfruit Dip! Be ready for a crowd-pleaser! This dip gets DEVOURED at every party it goes to. Get the recipe here!


I hope that this inspires you to not abandon your healthy eating on a holiday weekend, but instead to EMBRACE it, and to share it with your family and friends!

Speaking of sharing with your family and friends… why not share with post with them? When it comes to healthy living, the more, the merrier!

If you make something from this post, I'd love to see! Post a picture on Instagram & tag me @bewellwithsteph_.

Want to continue to stay in touch? Jump on my email list here - I'll send you a free copy of my Plant-Based Grocery Shopping Guide as a thank you. :)

Happy cooking!!!

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