A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

5 tips for a healthy BBQ season

One too many BBQs can put pounds on your swimsuit bod.

Fortunately, you can enjoy the summer fun without extra calories. Jump to recipe.

“It’s all about changing your mindset,” said Jaimee Gregor, Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “You don’t need brats, hotdogs and potato salad at every cookout. Choose from a variety of foods such as vegetables and lean protein.”

Better BBQ tips

Healthy potato dalad and black bean burger

Experiment this summer with new, healthy BBQ recipes. Here’s a recipe to start: Black Bean Burgers with Mustard Potato Salad.

Grilling is a low-fat cooking method, Gregor said. Practice mindful planning and eating for an even healthier meal.

  1. Hidden calories in condiments. Ketchup and barbecue sauce are high in sugar, especially when using more than 3 tablespoons. Both are hidden sources of sodium, too. In general, mustard is good condiment choice, she said.
  2. Try lettuce and tomatoes. Instead of adding moisture with high-calorie condiments, opt for healthier toppings of lettuce and tomatoes.
  3. Pick a lean protein source. Chicken breast, pork tenderloin and fish are lean meats and delicious when grilled. Marinades can add flavor, but again, watch for sodium. As a marinade example, Gregor suggests chicken in fat-free or light Italian dressing.
  4. Shish kabob it. “Making shish kabobs is a creative and easy way to add veggies to your BBQ meal,” she said. Pick your own variety or visit a site like Pinterest for ideas.
  5. Whole wheat wins. If you can’t deny a bun with your burger, try a small whole-wheat bun. Or, for no bun, try a lettuce wrap.

Experiment this summer with new, healthy BBQ recipes. Focus on more vegetables and lean protein and less hot dogs and brats.

Here’s the first meal to add to your menu:

Black Bean Burgers with Mustard Potato Salad recipeBlack Bean Burgers with Mustard Potato Salad Recipe

Prep time: 75 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 6

Print the Black Bean Burgers with Mustard Potato Salad recipes.


Potato salad:

  • 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, like new or red
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 green onions or scallions, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley

Black bean burgers:

  • 5 ounces canned, low-sodium black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 8 ounces packaged, cooked brown rice
  • 15 ounces canned sweet potatoes or yams in light syrup, drained
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided


Potato salad:
Fill medium heavy-duty pot three-fourths full with water. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add to water.

Place pot over high heat and bring to boiling. Let potatoes cook until fork-tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on size. Drain in colander and run cold water over potatoes to cool.

In large bowl, add oil, mustard, vinegar, pepper and salt. Whisk together with a fork. Add potatoes, chopped scallions and chopped parsley. Toss with dressing. Set aside.

Black bean burgers:
In a medium bowl, add ½ cup black beans and 1 cup brown rice. Microwave rice 30-60 seconds so it sticks together less and can be measured. Set aside.

Add remaining beans and brown rice into a food processor along with canned sweet potatoes/yams, egg white, cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Transfer puree to the whole beans and rice mixture you set aside. Add breadcrumbs and stir until combined. Form into 6 patties and place on a plate.

Warm 1 tablespoon oil in medium nonstick sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add three fragile patties into the pan; cook until slightly browned on each side, 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve black bean burgers with potato salad.

Nutrition information

Serving: 1 burger patty + 1-1/3 cup potato salad (serving burgers on a bun with toppings will add calories)

Each serving has 374 calories, 10 g fat, 280 mg sodium, 61 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 10 g protein.

Source: American Heart Association

Download and print recipe


Check out more Shine365 grilling posts:

Think ‘low and slow’ when grilling

Food safety tips for your cookout

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