7 Healthy Memorial Day BBQ Ideas

7 Healthy Memorial Day BBQ Ideas

The Memorial Day BBQ is the unofficial start to the summer and whether you’ll be hosting or visiting family and friends, there will be plenty of food.

Yet between hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad, coleslaw, chips and dip and your favorite red-white-and-blue dessert, Memorial Day is also one of the most caloric, high-sugar, fat-laden holidays of the year.

While I encourage my kids to try new foods and indulge on any holiday, I also worry that they’ll overeat, which in the past, have caused them to become physically ill.

Not only that, but I want to teach them healthy eating habits and how to enjoy food without going overboard.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice taste, forego your favorite summertime dishes or have “food rules” to strike a balance. Here are 7 healthy Memorial Day BBQ ideas that will allow your family to enjoy without getting too far off track.

Stay hydrated

Chances are Memorial Day will be a warm, sunny day and your kids will be running around so it’s important to encourage them to drink plenty of water.

Encourage your kid to stick with water throughout the day, instead of juice which is high in empty calories and sugar, spikes blood sugar, and may encourage cravings for other sugary fare.

If plain water is hard for your kids to swallow however, add sliced cucumbers or strawberries for some flavor. See also: How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

Since thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, drinking water before you arrive to your cookout can prevent overeating.

2. Offer veggies


The great thing about the vegetables served at Memorial Day BBQs is that they’re often kid-friendly.

Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, brightly-colored sliced bell peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli florets and jicama “fries,” are often kid favorites and if they’re served with a dip, even better.

You can also set up a station with a variety of vegetables and have your kids make their own grilled veggie kabobs.

Although your kids may still not want to eat vegetables since other, tastier options will be available, do your best to get some on their plates since they’ll help to satisfy their hunger, fill them up, and prevent constipation.

3. Arrive hungry

Most nutrition experts advise people to have a small snack before they arrive at a party to prevent overeating, but arriving hungry may actually be a good thing for your kids.

By taking advantage of their hunger, you might have an easier time of encouraging them to make at least a few healthy choices.

Instead of filling up their plates with chips, which they’re probably going to eat anyway, you may be able to get them to eat fruits and vegetables first and have a more balanced meal.

4. Upgrade your protein

Most kids love hamburgers and hot dogs, but think about other protein options for you and them.

Instead of regular ‘ol hamburgers, make your own using grass fed beef. Or serve organic grilled chicken, shrimp or pull together a bean salad or lentil chili.

5. Include healthy dessert options

Kids should enjoy s’mores, ice cream or a festive Memorial Day dessert, but why not have other options available too to show kids that healthy food can be delicious.

Consider making a fruit salad with strawberries and blueberries, homemade fruit popsicles, or an almond butter fruit dip.

6. Pay attention to portions


When buffets, family style dining, and bowls of snacks are out for the day, it’s easy for kids to grab and lose sight of how much they’re eating.

Although I let my kids decide what they want to eat, I also help them make up their plate and keep portion sizes at bay.

7. Set up games and activities


There’s no doubt kids will be busy running and playing at their Memorial Day BBQ, but you can also set up games and activities that encourage them to move more. 

Think: ring toss, jump rope, hide and seek, tag, telephone or freeze dance.

What are some of your healthy Memorial Day BBQ ideas? Let me know in the comments!

9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s found in every cell of the body and is vital for building muscle, strengthening skin and bones, producing hormones, and transporting nutrients.

Although everyone needs it in their diets, kids in particular must get adequate levels of protein to support their rapid growth and development.

What’s more, eating meals with a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats promotes feelings of satiety, staves off hunger, keeps blood sugar levels steady and can prevent overeating.

According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, protein needs for kids vary by age and gender:

  • Children between 1 and 3-years-old: 13 grams of protein each day
  • Children between 4 and 8-years-old: 19 grams of protein each day
  • Children between 9 and 13-years-old: 34 grams of protein each day
  • Girls between 14 and 18-years-old: 46 grams of protein each day
  • Boys between 14 and 18-years-old: 52 grams of protein each day

Whether your kids are vegetarian or you’re cutting back on meat and trying to get more plant-based foods in their diets, here are some of the best meatless protein-rich foods for kids, plus healthy and delicious recipes to try.

1. Quinoa

A gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate, a 1/2 cup of quinoa has more than 4 grams of protein. Quinoa is also high in fiber and a good source of B vitamins and magnesium.

A great substitute for rice and pasta, quinoa can also be served as a side dish, added to salads, incorporated into soups, stew, or chili, or even served for breakfast.

Try this recipe: Apple Quinoa Breakfast Muffins Perfect for Busy Mornings

2. Lentils

With 9 grams of protein in every 1/2 cup, lentils are one of the best meatless protein-rich foods for kids.

Since they’re also high in fiber, they keep blood sugar levels steady and are super filling.

Use lentils to make a vegetarian chili, lentil soup or meatless burgers.

Try this recipe: Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers With Avocado Green Harissa

3. Eggs

In March, a new study came out, once again suggesting that eating eggs is linked to heart disease and premature death.

But experts say—and I agree—there’s no need to avoid them.

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Scrambled for breakfast, in a quiche or frittata for lunch, or hard-boiled for snacks when you’re on the go, eggs are a food you can always find a place for in your kid’s diet.

Try this recipe: Egg and Bacon Muffin Cups

4. Pumpkin seeds

With more than 5 grams of protein in one ounce, plus magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds are a great addition to your kid’s diet.

Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood.

Add pumpkin seeds to breads and muffins, on top of yogurt or in homemade granola.

Try this recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

5. Green peas

Serve them in meals or as a snack, these little green gems are also a perfect first food for babies.

With 5 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup, peas are also a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate and magnesium.

Try this recipe: Best Ever and Kid-Friendly Easy Split Pea Soup

6. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a superfood and high in protein: 1 ounce has more than 4 grams.

They’re also a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and phosphorous.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, pancake batter, overnight oats, and breads and muffins.

Try this recipe: Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

7. Chickpeas

All beans are excellent sources of protein, but chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) in particular, stand out. With nearly 9 grams of protein in one cup, chickpeas also high in fiber and folate.

Pair chickpeas with brown rice, add them to salads or make your own hummus.

Try this recipe: Roasted Chickpea Snack

8. Peanut butter

The quintessential kid-friendly food, peanut butter is packed with protein: two tablespoons has 8 grams—plus filling fiber and healthy fats.

Top toast with peanut butter, add it into breakfast smoothies or mix with Greek yogurt for a healthy dip.

Try this recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls

9. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is an excellent source of protein: one ounce has 5 grams.

Tempeh is also high in calcium—a good thing if your kids don’t drink milk or you’re avoiding dairy—and rich in probiotics, the healthy bacteria that strengthen your kid’s immune system

Although tempeh is a great swap for meat in almost any dish, it shouldn’t be a regular food in your kid’s diet.

Since high amounts of soy in a child’s diet is linked to a Kawasaki disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can cause damage to the heart, experts say babies under 1 should avoid consuming foods with soy and older kids should consume soy in moderation.

Try this: Easy Baked BBQ Tempeh

What are some of your kid’s favorite meatless protein-rich foods?  Let me know in the comments!