1. Lighten up your dip by using greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Healthier dip just means you can eat more chips, right?
(Wrong. For the record, that is wrong. It doesn’t work like that.)
2. Make guacamole lower-fat by cutting the avocado with another vegetable.
Adding frozen peas keeps the guacamole green and adds a subtle sweetness.
Recipe: Lighter Guacamole
3. Or, serve a fun, fruity salsa instead.
Just don’t go crazy with the chips.
Recipe: Strawberry Mango Salsa
4. If you’re brave, replace chips and dip with crudités so beautiful that guests forget they’re eating raw vegetables.
Seasoning your vegetables with lime, salt, and chili powder is a nice touch.
Recipe Crudités à la Mexicaine
Pre-portioning will keep everyone from double (or, ahem, triple) dipping.
5. Make a really kick-ass salad that people will actually want to eat.
Use seasonal produce to make your salads colorful and more appetizing.
Lettuce-free salads don’t wilt as quickly, so they’re great for long barbecues.
Recipe: Greek Salad
And, just a little bit of cheese goes a long way.
Recipe: Zucchini Ribbon Salad
6. Position the aforementioned salad at the front of the buffet line.
Putting salad on your plate first means less room for other, less healthy things.
7. Always make your own vinaigrette instead of buying bottled salad dressing.
Homemade vinaigrette — one part vinegar or citrus juice, two parts oil, plus whatever flavorings you’d like — is not only super easy to make, it’s also healthier than the bottled kind, since there are no preservatives, colorings, or added sugars.
Recipe: Simone’s Shallot Vinaigrette
8. Serve a delicious, no-mayo potato salad.
Warm potato salad with a super vinegar-y dressing is tangy and totally refreshing.
Recipe: Warm Red Potato Salad
Using lots of herbs adds flavor without adding any fat or sugar.
This recipe is packed with parsley, but dill tastes amazing in potato salad, too.
Recipe: Moroccan Potato Salad
9. Take the mayo out of your coleslaw, too.
You won’t miss it, and it’ll taste much fresher.
Recipe: No-Mayo Coleslaw
10. Better yet, make a veggie-packed sweet potato salad instead.
11. Instead of burgers, grill a lean cut of steak.
Burgers inevitably come with all kinds of not-so-healthy extras: cheese, sugary condiments, bacon, white bread, more cheese, etc. These add up quickly, so you’re better off eating a super-flavorful piece of steak, with salsa verde or just a little bit of steak sauce.
Skirt steak, hanger steak, flank steak, and sirloin are all good, lean cuts that grill well.
Recipe: Grilled Steak and Vegetables
12. Ban hot dogs. Pork skewers are more fun and don’t have scary filler ingredients.
Also, no need to serve kebabs on refined buns, slathered in ketchup and barbecue sauce.
Recipe: Peachy Pork-A-Bobs
13. Grill chicken that will upstage any red meat by marinating it beforehand.
Simply marinating your chicken in a mixture of lemon juice and soy sauce for at least an hour before grilling it will make it delicious. More importantly, it’ll keep it from drying out on the grill.
Recipe: Grilled Chicken Thighs
Using skinless chicken breasts means lots of protein with very little fat.
14. Shake things up by grilling healthy shrimp kebabs.
Shrimp is healthy, filling, and super quick to cook on the grill.
Recipe: Chipotle Lime Shrimp
Scallops are another great, grill-able shellfish option.
Citrus-y grilled scallops are sweet, juice and perfect.
15. Serve grilled portobello mushrooms as a vegetarian main dish.
Most veggie burgers have not-so-great ingredient lists. Plus, they often fall apart on the grill.
16. If you can’t live without burgers, check out these 25 healthier burger options.
Recipe: Turkey Spinach Sliders
17. When it comes to condiments, mustard is your best friend.
Ketchup and barbecue sauce are loaded with sugar, and mayonnaise is essentially all fat. Mustard adds a ton of flavor and a little bit of spice, so set out a variety of different kinds for guests to pair with their meat.
18. Remember that vegetables love the grill, too.
Veggie kebabs are easy to grill and easy to eat.
Layer a bunch on skewers for easier handling.
Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Skewers
19. DItch pre-made mixers and make your own low-sugar coktails.
A classic mojito has just one teaspoon of sugar per drink. The majority of the flavor comes from lime and mint.
Recipe: Sloppy Joe’s Mojito
Using freshly squeezed citrus juice is key here.
A real margarita is just tequila, triple-sec, lots of fresh lime, and the tiniest bit of agave. Pre-mix a whole pitcher for guests to enjoy throughout the party.
Recipe: Healthy Margarita
20. Consider the wine spritzer.
One part white wine + One part club soda makes for a low-calorie drink that’s perfect for summer. Also, diluting the wine with water means the booze won’t go to your head and convince you that eating three cheeseburgers is a good idea.
Recipe: Wine Spritzer
21. Serve iced tea instead of punch or lemonade.
Your best bet is unsweetened. Cold-brew ice tea is flavorful enough that you can drink it without any sugar.
Recipe: Cold-Brew Ice Tea
If you can’t drink it unsweetened, add a little fruit juice.
Recipe: Tangerine Raspberry Iced Tea
22. Serve sweet, caramelized grilled fruit for dessert.
23. Popsicles are another good dessert option.
Fruit-based and super refreshing.
Recipe: Summer Berry Mint Ice Pops