By Lisa Nogueira
My favorite part of summer — besides the sunshine, the beach, swimming pools, and the attitude of leisure — is getting my friends together and having a backyard grill-out. With these recipes and a few tips, you can throw one together quickly and easily without compromising on flavor or health.
A good grill-out needs a few things: a killer dip, a signature mocktail/cocktail, a crowd-pleasing side dish, good music and friends . . . and the rest you leave to the grill!
Here’s your appetizer.
Layered Greek Hummus Dip
Plain Hummus – 2 cups
Cucumber, diced – ½ cup
Red pepper, finely diced – ¼ cup
Kalamata olives, chopped – 1/3 cup
Mint, finely chopped – 2 tsp
Basil, finely chopped – 2 tsp
Feta cheese, crumbled – 1/3 cup
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon (for juice)
Zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice mixture) – optional
For the dippers:
Cut-up raw vegetables of choice
Pita, tortillas (brown rice, almond or coconut)
If you are making your hummus from scratch, do that first. Then add the hummus to the bottom of a 11×7 serving dish, using a spatula to spread it evenly into the first layer. Sprinkle the cucumber, red pepper, basil, mint, feta, and olives over the hummus. Finish with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and an optional pinch or two of zaatar.
For the dippers, I recommend breaking up whole grain pita or brown rice tortilla into chip-sized pieces. Coat lightly with olive or avocado oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and bake them at 350° for about 5-10 minutes until crispy. For a grain free version, use a coconut or almond flour wrap.
Note: The hummus makes all the difference in this dip. If you use a store-bought brand, choose a rich and creamy one. I particularly love what the mint brings to this dish. It delivers an unexpected “wow” factor and adds a bit of summertime freshness. The measurements below are rough estimates for a 7×11 serving dish, but of course feel free to add or subtract based on your personal preferences. I sometimes use tomatoes in this (usually in place of the red pepper), though I find that sometimes juicy tomatoes can make the dip a bit watery after a while.
This mock/cocktail supports gut health and is so delicious that you may not even want it spiked. It has a small kick with the jalapeño, which is optional.
Mango Mint Kombucha Margarita
1 cup frozen mango
2 TBSP mint
½ cup water
Juice of 1 lime
2 TBSP raw honey
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup ice
⅔ cup ginger or plain kombucha
1-2 inch slice of jalapeño (no seeds)
In a blender, blend water herbs, lime, jalapeño, and sweetener. Add frozen mango and blend until smooth. Blend in the ice until it becomes slushy. Add the kombucha and blend until it is mixed, but not long enough to lose carbonation. Fill up the margarita glasses, garnish with mint and a slice of lime, and serve. Cheers!
For a spirited alternative, add a shot of your favorite tequila.
This salad is a favorite of my family and has won over even the pickiest of eaters. The creamy avocado and the sweetness of the mango balanced with the dressing make the perfect blend of summer flavors.
Mango and Avocado Salad
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP lime juice
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 mangos, cubed
2 avocados, cubed
¼ red onion, sliced thinly
¼ cup cilantro, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add mangoes, avocados, red onion, and cilantro to a large mixing bowl. Either whisk the vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper together — or — even easier — add them to a jar with a lid and shake to combine. Dress the salad with the oil and vinegar mixture, and gently stir the salad around a bit. Serve immediately.
The grilled portion:
Pick your protein. Beef, chicken, fish, tempeh — we all have our favorites, and these dishes will go with practically anything.
When we grill out, I love to have a platter of mixed grilled vegetables for everyone to dig into. Not only does it make a healthy addition to the spread, it provides such a beautiful array of colors! Summer squash, asparagus, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are great options. Even people who don’t normally eat a lot of vegetables can’t seem to resist them when they’re grilled.
You can even grill your salad! We love a grilled Greek salad. Simply cut a head of romaine lettuce in half and sprinkle the cut side with avocado or olive oil. Place the lettuce cut-side down and grill for a few minutes until the edges just begin to char a bit. Top it with feta, kalamata olives, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
For dessert, I like to keep it simple with a big bowl full of mixed berries. If you are feeling ambitious, you chill a can of coconut milk overnight, strain out the liquid, and whip up the solid cream portion with a splash of vanilla in a chilled metal bowl until it peaks.
Lisa Nogueira is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach as well as Licensed Massage Therapist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is dedicated to helping clients live their happiest and healthiest lives through personal or group coaching and a unique variety of bodywork services. Her no-guilt approach to health is taking small steps to creating a wellness lifestyle, prioritizing self-care, leaving room for the sweeter things in life, and simplifying health into an approachable and fun adventure that encompasses the whole person. Find more at LNwell.com or @lisa_nogueira on Instagram.