There’s just something special about munching on quintessential warm-weather treats during the summertime. Unfortunately, the all-American grilled cheeseburgers, potato salad, and sugary desserts at every neighborhood barbeque don’t do much for one’s health—or waistline.
Whether you’re trying to cut calories, have medical dietary restrictions, or have made a lifestyle choice to eat a certain way, finding new dishes to love doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some of our new favorite summer recipes—and whatever diet you happen to follow, we’ve got one for you!
1. Take your paleo summer salad to the next level
Non-paleo eaters may think you’re chewing on turkey legs and dipping everything in coconut oil, but the truth is that those who eat paleo can enjoy a diverse range of yummy dishes. That said, it can be tempting to overdo the protein and ignore your greens. Tip the balance with the following showstopping paleo salad that’s also a perfect warm-weather meal.
Why we love it: Salads can feel like a chore to eat, especially those boring restaurant side salads. In contrast, this tasty, high-protein salad will have you asking for more while upping your intake of healthy prebiotic-packed greens and other superfoods!
2. The meatless path to delicious BBQ flavor
Meat is often the central feature of the classic summer cookout, but cooking nearly anything over open flames can bring out a deep, rich flavor. That said, most frozen veggie burgers often have the taste and texture of cardboard, regardless of how you cook them. Instead, treat yourself to these juicy, high-protein, and totally vegan homemade veggie burgers. There’s no reason for you or vegetarian guests to have FOMO when you whip these up!
Why we love it: sautéed onion, tons of spices, walnuts, and black beans make for a killer flavor profile. Adding rice and bread crumbs help it stand up to scorching grill grates while ensuring you get a filling, protein-packed meal.
3. Pfft! Who says you need gluten to enjoy a great pasta salad?
Anyone with Celiac’s disease, a gluten sensitivity, or who just simply feels better when they skip the wheat knows that gluten seems to be in most everything. But you won’t feel like you’re being deprived of anything when you’re eating this lovely Pad Thai-style noodle salad. Drool.
Why we love it: Healthy, low-cal, and addictively tangy, this noodle salad will be a hit with everyone at your next summer gathering, gluten-free or not. Plus it’s totally portable, so you can bring it to the beach or park for noshing.
4. Low sugar & low carb eaters can have this cake and eat it too
Have a sweet tooth but staying away from sweets? It may not feel like it, but the possibilities are endless! Make this no-guilt, low-carb, fully satisfying lemon cheesecake that will wow even the biggest sugar-fiends at your next party.
Why we love it: Not only is it mostly guilt-free, it also doesn’t come with the stress of trying to bake the perfect, crack-free cheesecake. You simply whip the ingredients together and chill—literally and figuratively.
Bonus tip: if you want to skip artificial sweeteners, try granulated stevia or agave nectar and adjust to personal taste.
5. Calorie-counting? You can still eat potato salad…
Tracking every calorie can be a drag when you’re just trying to enjoy your family 4th of July cookout. Whether you’re on an official program like Weight Watchers or trying to watch your intake on your own, this marinated potato salad is a fabulous option. It has a low impact with big flavor.
Why we love it: Traditional potato salad may be the go-to dish for summertime potlucks, but it can leave you feeling bloated. This dish is filling but light and packs enough of a flavor punch to please even the biggest critics.