Deliciously Healthy Barbecue Recipes

Healthy and hassle-free grilling recipes your kids will love.

The Healthiest BBQ


Even though Susan and Edward McMenamin originally built their shingle-style house in East Hampton, NY, as a summer residence, they designed a large, state-of-the-art kitchen. But the couple -- now living full-time in their Long Island home with daughters Samantha, 9, Sabrina, 4, and Savannah, 2 -- prefer to cook most of the family's meals not in the kitchen but on one of the backyard deck's two Ducane gas grills. "I absolutely love grilling all year long," says Susan, who usually mans the barbie. "In the winter after a snowstorm, I ask Ed to shovel a path from the kitchen door to the grill."

All across America, grilling is hot -- even when the weather is not. A recent Weber Grill survey revealed that nearly 40% of Americans and 25% of northeasterners cook out year-round. "Barbecuing has become a national phenomenon," says Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill, "and it's not hard to see why that's the case. Cooking out makes any meal a lot more exciting for the whole family."

The McMenamins' fondness for outdoor grilling is part traditional, part practical. "My husband and I grew up in families that cooked out a lot, so it's a natural part of our lives," says Susan. "Plus, with grilling there are no pots and pans to clean, and the food is nutritious for the kids."

Of course, just about any meat is healthier when grilled because the fat drips off. But the McMenamins' favorite dishes feature especially vitamin-rich ingredients. Susan buys salmon, sea bass, or tuna in a teriyaki-style sauce from The Seafood Shoppe in Wainscott, NY, or marinates skinless chicken breasts in Italian dressing. She pairs fish or poultry with grilled vegetables and couscous for a balanced meal. "The girls like it all," says Susan. "I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to make special meals for them, and I think that helped expand their tastes." In fact, the couple serves hamburgers and hot dogs only when friends' children visit.

Between the relaxed atmosphere and great food, there's virtually no downside to barbecuing. The only regret the McMenamins have is that they grill so frequently -- at least three times a week -- that they often run out of new recipes. "I'm always flipping through tons of cookbooks, looking for healthy, grilled dishes the family will love," explains Susan.

Say no more. Child created a nutritious summertime meal featuring can't-miss kid favorites like Sunny Day Chicken, Jungle Burgers, Honey Bee Salad, and even a Tutti-Frutti Sundae that includes grilled fruit. The McMenamin girls liked it so much, they set up their own private picnic in a shady spot near the front door of their home, nestled in a four-acre wooded property.


    • Sunny Day Chicken
    • Goody-Goody Gobblers
    • Jungle Burgers
    • Green Thumb Pasta
    • Honey Bee Salad
    • Tutti-Frutti Sundaes
    • Baked Beans

      Sunny Day Chicken

      The honey-mustard glaze gives this grilled chicken a pretty yellowish hue and extra cancer-fighting antioxidants. Just don't serve honey to children younger than 12 months because of the risk of infant botulism, a life-threatening disease.





      Prep Time:
      15 minutes



      Cooking Time:
      20 minutes



      • 4 Tbs. honey
      • 4 Tbs. spicy mustard
      • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
      • 2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
      • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
      • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


        Step 1: Heat the grill until the coals turn gray and there are no longer strong flames, 35 to 45 minutes.

        Step 2: Meanwhile, combine honey, mustard, lemon peel, soy sauce, and garlic, and mix well. Reserve a few tablespoons of the sauce. Add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator until coals are ready.

        Step 3: Cook chicken 5 to 6 minutes per side. Brush with the reserved sauce, and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 4 minutes per side, until chicken registers 170°F on a meat thermometer.

          Nutritional Facts:

          Each piece: 183 calories, 28 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 68 mg cholesterol, 24 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 264 mg sodium

            Goody-Goody Gobblers

            Shop around for healthy ground turkey breast, which is made only with white meat and contains very little fat -- it weighs in at around 2 grams per serving.





            Prep Time:
            10 minutes



            Cooking Time:
            12 minutes



            • 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey breast
            • 1 medium onion, minced
            • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
            • 3/4 tsp. cumin
            • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
            • 6 whole-grain rolls, split and toasted
            • 6 tomato slices
            • 6 leaves romaine lettuce
            • 6 red pepper rings


              Step 1:  Heat coals until they turn gray and there are no longer strong flames, 35 to 45 minutes.

              Step 2:  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well with clean hands, but don't overmix. Divide into four patties.


              Step 3:  Grill burgers 5 to 6 minutes per side, to 165°F.


              Step 4:  Place burgers on rolls; top with tomato, lettuce, and red pepper.

                Nutritional Facts:

                Each burger: 231 calories, 30 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 3 g fiber, 45 mg cholesterol, 54 mg calcium, 3 mg iron, 256 mg sodium.

                  Jungle Burgers

                  Can't seem to cajole your kids into eating their veggies? These produce-packed burgers are hard to resist. And, lucky for you, they're a snap to make.





                  Prep Time:
                  15 minutes



                  Cooking Time:
                  10 minutes



                  • Olive oil spray
                  • 1 small onion, diced
                  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
                  • 2 cups chopped peppers, yellow and red
                  • 2 yellow peppers, thinly sliced, sautéed lightly
                  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
                  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
                  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs
                  • 1 10-oz. package frozen corn, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
                  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
                  • 6 whole-wheat pita pockets
                  • Canola oil spray
                  • Salsa (optional)


                    Step 1:  In medium skillet, sauté onions, garlic, and peppers in olive oil until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.

                    Step 2:  Remove mixture from heat, and place in a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and combine well. Form into six patties, and chill for 45 minutes to keep them from crumbling. Meanwhile, heat grill until coals turn gray and strong flames die down, about 35 to 45 minutes. Spray grate with canola oil to prevent sticking.

                    Step 3:  Grill patties until golden, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Tuck into a pita. Garnish with salsa if desired.

                      Nutritional Facts:

                      Each one: 294 calories, 14 g protein, 60 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 8 g fiber, 32 mg cholesterol, 84 mg calcium, 4 mg iron, 594 mg sodium.

                        Green Thumb Pasta

                        Before you make this pasta, let your kids pick the veggies from your garden. No garden? Take a family trip to the local farmers' market.





                        Prep Time:
                        15 minutes



                        Cooking Time:
                        10 minutes



                        • 4 cups rotini pasta
                        • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
                        • 1 small zucchini, chopped
                        • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
                        • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (optional)
                        • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
                        • 1 cup low-fat vinaigrette dressing like Newman's Own Light Italian


                          Step 1:  Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

                          Step 2:  Place the cooked pasta in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss well to mix. Chill for at least one hour.

                            Nutritional Facts:

                            Each serving: 153 calories, 4 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 12 mg calcium, 2 mg iron, 335 mg sodium.

                              Honey Bee Salad

                              Fiber-rich black beans team up with sweet corn, which is loaded with eyesight-protecting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. The result: In just one serving, your kids snag 8 grams of fiber and a big dose of antioxidants.





                              Prep Time:
                              15 minutes



                              Cooking Time:
                              0 minutes



                              • 3 9-oz. packages frozen corn, or six ears grilled with kernels cut off
                              • 1 small red onion, diced
                              • 1 16-oz. can black beans, drained
                              • 1 red pepper, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
                              • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
                              • 2 Tbs. orange juice
                              • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
                              • 1/4 cup olive oil
                              • 6 leaves romaine lettuce, shredded



                                Step 1:  If using frozen corn, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.


                                Step 2:  In a large bowl, combine the corn, red pepper, onion, and beans and mix well.

                                Step 3:  In a small bowl, combine wine vinegar, orange juice, and mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Toss corn mixture with dressing and chill for about an hour to incorporate the flavors. Toss with lettuce just before serving.

                                  Nutritional Facts:

                                  Each serving: 214 calories, 7 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 6 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 27 mg calcium, 2 mg iron, 207 mg sodium.

                                    Tutti-Frutti Sundaes


                                    • 12 slices pineapple
                                    • 4 peaches, sliced lengthwised
                                    • 2 cups low-fat strawberry frozen yogurt


                                    Step 1:  Arrange fruit on grate over low coals. Cover the grill, and cook 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned, turning once.

                                    Step 2:  Slice fruit into bite-size pieces. Arrange in six dishes. Top with 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt.

                                      Nutritional Facts:

                                      Each serving: 233 calories, 7 g protein, 43 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 50 mg cholesterol, 154 mg calcium, 0 mg iron, 46 mg sodium.

                                        Baked Beans



                                        Prep Time:
                                        10 minutes



                                        Cooking Time:
                                        25 seconds



                                        • Vegetable oil spray
                                        • 1/2 cup chopped onions
                                        • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
                                        • 1/2 cup ketchup
                                        • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
                                        • 2 tsp. chili powder
                                        • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
                                        • 2 16 oz. cans low-sodium vegetarian baked beans
                                        • 1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained


                                          Step 1:  Spray a large saucepan with vegetable oil and heat. Cook onions and the peppers until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

                                          Step 2:  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low until thoroughly heated, about 20 minutes.

                                            Nutritional Facts:

                                            Each serving: 268 calories, 13 g protein, 58 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 16 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 88 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 254 mg sodium.

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                                              Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the August 2001 issue of Child Magazine.


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