Warm-weather barbecues and get-togethers are some of the best parts of the summer season. But when potato and pasta salad start weighing you down, it’s time to lighten things up. We’ve rounded up some of the most delicious low-calorie healthy summer side dishes that would suit any backyard BBQ all while helping you reach your summer weight loss goals.
While there’s room for all foods on a healthy plate, the best way to lighten up a dish is by using low-calorie ingredients like non-starchy veggies and fruits to replace heavier ones, as well as cooking without oil and using an air-fryer. Focus on choosing a variety of colors and textures, and add flavor without calories by taking advantage of herbs, spices, marinades and seasonings that wake up the senses and elevate the dish to the next level.
Whip up one of these BBQ healthy sides and veggies that pair perfectly with Jenny Craig’s Classic Cheeseburger, Turkey Burger, and Chicken Sandwich, at your next barbecue for tons of flavor and nutrients.
If you’re a Jenny member, consult your coach before adding additional foods to your plan to ensure you stay on track!
Air Fryer Fried Zucchini
One of the perfect summer vegetable side dishes!
Slice a large zucchini into ¼-inch rounds. Dip each zucchini round in lightly beaten egg white, then transfer to a bowl of wheat breadcrumbs combined with grated parmesan cheese until coated well. Place the breaded zucchini rounds in your air-fryer basket. Spray with nonstick olive oil spray. Air fry at 400° for 5 to 7 minutes; flip and cook another 5-7 minutes, until crispy.
Tip: Remember to spray both sides of the breaded zucchini rounds as well as the air fryer basket to prevent sticking and maximize crispiness.
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
Summer Cucumber Salad
Slice an English cucumber into ¼-inch rounds. Roughly chop or slice ½ a red onion. Combine in a bowl. Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the ingredients for the dressing: 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon dill, 1/8 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Drizzle over the cucumbers and onions; toss well to combine. Refrigerate before serving.
Tip: Most of the nutrients in a cucumber reside in the peel. Keep the skin on to maximize benefits!
Balsamic Grilled Veggies
Choose any of your favorite summer veggies like the ones from our list of 10 of the Best Summer Vegetables and Cooking Ideas; wash and trim them as necessary. Cut the veggies into uniform bite-size pieces so they cook evenly. Put the prepared veggies in a large bowl. Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl: 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon each thyme, basil, oregano and parsley, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Pour over the prepared vegetables. Grill the veggies in a grill basket over medium to medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
Tip: Did you know balsamic vinegar actually contains probiotics? These healthy bacteria promote digestion and improve gut health.
Grilled Portobello or Zucchini Pizza
Clean and trim the Portobello mushroom heads or slice the zucchini into ¼-inch thick rounds. Top with a teaspoon or two of marinara sauce and some shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Add some chopped fresh basil to the pizzas as desired. Grill over medium to medium-high heat until the cheese is melted and the vegetables are tender.
Tip: Mozzarella cheese is an excellent source of protein! One ounce of part-skim mozzarella cheese contains 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.
Photo by LauriPatterson on iStock
Homemade Refrigerator Pickles
Look for short, bumpy-skinned cucumbers at the grocery store or farmers' market – aka pickling cucumbers. Grab a few. You’ll also need pickling salt, garlic, apple cider vinegar, whole black peppercorns, whole yellow mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, fresh dill weed, granulated sugar, a Vidalia or sweet onion (sliced), water and a large (pint-size) jar with lid. Pack the jar with sliced cucumbers, onion slices, and sprigs of dill. Make sure to leave space for the liquid, about a ½ inch at the top. In a small pot over medium-high heat, add ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon peppercorns, ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds, and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (if desired); bring to a simmer. Add ¼ teaspoon sugar and 1 ½ teaspoon pickling salt; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool until warm. Pour the brine into the jar until full. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours before eating.
Tip: Get fancy with your pickles! Try making long sandwich slices, spears, or crinkle-cut rounds instead of the usual wedges.
Light Summer Slaw
This slaw is the ultimate healthy side dish that pairs wonderfully with burgers!
Combine in a small bowl the ingredients for the dressing: 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream or plain nonfat Greek yogurt, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper; set aside or refrigerate. Wait until ready to serve before dressing the coleslaw veggies. Combine in a large bowl 1 bag shredded cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix), ½ medium green bell pepper (remove seeds and veins, cut into bite-size pieces), ½ red bell pepper (remove seeds and veins, cut into bite-size pieces), ½ red onion (chopped), ½ English cucumber (sliced), and 1 tomato (seeds removed and diced). Toss with the dressing before serving.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to salt the cabbage first. This removes excess moisture. Toss the shredded cabbage in about a teaspoon of salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Then give it a quick rinse underwater so it’s not too salty. Pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate until ready to use.
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