Summer Barbecue Recipe Makeovers

Make your barbecue menu healthier, from finger foods to dessert.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

Memorial Day is so much more than a three-day weekend. Formally, and most importantly, it's a day to remember all the people who gave their lives defending our nation. (Interestingly, Memorial Day was proclaimed in the 1800s, before both world wars were fought.) Informally, though, Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer - and the barbecue season. And that's where I come in.

Nothing says summer like barbecues featuring burgers, mayo-drenched salads, chips and dip, and colorful cakes. But from finger foods to dessert, there are ways to lighten up barbecue offerings without changing the featured foods and how much we enjoy them.

Lighter Barbecue Appetizers

There are plenty of light alternatives to potato and tortilla chips. Experiment until you find a brand you like.

A fresh-style salsa is better for you than a mayo-based dip, of course. But if you go the creamy dip route, substitute fat-free sour cream for the real thing, and use a mixture of fat-free sour cream and light mayonnaise in place of real mayonnaise. It works every time! Keep creamy dips cool by placing the dip bowl in a slightly bigger bowl that is 2/3 filled with crushed ice.

If an appetizer is fried, nine times out of 10 you can get away with oven-frying it. This dramatically reduces the amount of oil the food picks up. For an example, check out the Oven Fried Blue Cheese Olives recipe below.