Back to the Kitchen: Healthy Choices for a Fourth of July BBQ

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This week my daughter finished her freshman year in high school! My goodness it feels like she was just a toddler! With all the summer celebrations and parties it is more important that ever for me to keep focused and watch carefully to what I am eating. Last night I went to a BBQ and sat with some girlfriends and we devoured chips, salsa and some puffy orange things. When dinner came we ate beef kabobs (really yummy) and bread! I promised that for the 4th of July weekend I would put together some really delicious “lighter” grilled items and some lighter fare!

I am really busy, but it certainly feels like I have more time for me. I don’t say that lightly as I can fill up my days quite easily, but I say it with determination that I spend more time on myself! It goes back a few weeks when I looked in the mirror and really paid attention to what I saw. I love food, I am after all a chef, but I was really not happy. Now usually I prefer to go under the radar with these things and just have people wonder if I changed my hair or did something and not announce to the world that I am actually trying to loose weight! There I said it! OK so here goes. Exercise daily for at least 30+ minutes- Non-negotiable. I love to hike, dance, do yoga, play tennis and ride a bicycle. I think thirty minutes is a fair gift to myself! I went to my collections of DVDs and dusted off some of my favorites! I have everything from yoga to Pilates to “Dancing with the Stars.” My all time best is a series called Yoga Bootie Ballet. You can zip over the hill to Serve Studios and take a class or if you are short on time put one of the many different workouts on and have a party in your living room!

The last thing is what I call mindful eating. I get to play with wonderful recipes that are just a little bit lighter. I would never be the one to not eat or give up a certain food group, but we all know how to make better choices and being mindful allows for that.

So find some time to get your groove on and enjoy these mindfully delicious recopies and your friends and family may never know exactly what you are doing, but you will look and feel fantastic!

Asian Marinade for Vegetables

This simple marinade works well with chicken or fish. Eggplant, summer squashes, asparagus, onions, beets, corn. Just to name a few. Be creative and look for fun veggies to grill!

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 inches ginger, finely chopped
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch basil, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
2 serrano chilies, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice of 4 limes and zest
1/4-cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1-tablespoon Chili sauce

Remove and grate zest of limes and juice limes. Prepare 12 cups of vegetables for the grill. Combine ingredients and marinate for 2 hours rotating occasionally. Grill vegetables, brushing with marinade.

Spicy Noodles

You can double or triple this recipe to fed a crowd. You can add cooked chicken or shrimp to make it an entrée. You can also use soba noodles that are from buckwheat so it is okay for people with wheat allergies.

1 pound dry pasta- spaghetti or angel hair

1-cup smooth peanut butter

3 tbsp. sugar

1/2-cup soy sauce

1 tsp. chile pepper flakes

3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

3 Tbsp. minced garlic

3 Tbsp. canola oil

Garnishes- slivered carrots, green onions, red pepper s, fresh cilantro, and sesame seeds, toasted peanuts

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water. Drain the noodles, let stand and use the warm pot to make the sauce. (It helps with the thickness of the peanut butter). Wisk the rest of ingredients until blended. Mix in the pasta. Let Stand in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Before serving toss with the garnishes of your choice.

Elizabeth’s Black Bean and Papaya Salad

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1-teaspoon honey

4 tablespoons olive oil

1-teaspoon salt

1/4-teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed

2 medium red papayas, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, crosswise

1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Combine limejuice, ginger, and honey in a small bowl.  Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Set vinaigrette aside. Combine black beans, papaya, and red onion in a large bowl and toss together.  Pour vinaigrette over and toss again.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Add mint, toss one more time and serve.

Wasabi Coleslaw

2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

1/4-cup mayonnaise

3-teaspoon wasabi paste

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Mix together cabbage, wasabi, mayonnaise and vinegar in medium bowl. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

Cajun Grilled Salmon

6-6 ounce salmon fillets

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

1-tablespoon pepper

6 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons onion flakes

2 tablespoons dried oregano


Mix all the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle until powdery. Rub all over the salmon fillets on both sides and leave for 1 – 2 hours. Heat BBQ until hot. Spread some oil over the salmon fillets and place on the grill flesh side down. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until done.

Shrimp on Rosemary Skewers

A very simple and amazing way to prepare shrimp. I have the biggest rosemary tree in my yard so I am always looking for ways to use it. Cutting 2 inch pieces of rosemary strip stem starting about 1″ from top of stem. Using a very sharp knife cut points at the end of the stem. You will need about 25 for this recipe.

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon coarse
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves plus sprigs for garnish
4 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for brushing shrimp
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, cleaned with tails on

In a large bowl stir together garlic, minced rosemary, and 3 tablespoons oil and add shrimp. Marinate shrimp, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Thread the shrimp with the rosemary skewer. On an oiled grill or a stovetop grill arrange shrimp so that the rosemary skewers are away from the flame. Grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges.

Swordfish and Veggie Skewer

1 large lemon
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of dijon mustard
1/2-cup pinot gringo (or any light) vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 a teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-pound swordfish
1 large red onion
16 mushrooms
2 yellow or green bell pepper
8 cherry tomatoes

In a small bowl juice the lemon and add 2 teaspoons add two teaspoons zest. Combine the oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and black and red pepper. Cut the swordfish into 24 equal pieces. Cut onion in half and each half into quarters. Cut the bell pepper in half and de seeds it and cut into 16 pieces. Clean the mushrooms. Dividing equally and then alternating them, thread the swordfish with all the veggies ending with the cherry tomatoes on 8- 12-inch skewers. (Don’t forget if using wood they need to be soaked in water for about one hour. Brush with half the marinating mixture and let sit in the refrigerator for one hour. Prepare your grill. When it is ready, Brush the skewers with half the remaining marinade. Grill the skewers about 5 inches from the heat for five minutes. Turn over and grill about 5 more minutes until fish is lightly colored, firm to the touch, and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve at once.

Grilled Swordfish in Black Bean Sauce

2- 15 oz cans of black beans
1-tablespoon peanut oil
1 red onion chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
6- 8 oz swordfish steaks
Peanut oil for brushing fish

In saucepan heat peanut oil and sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook until softened stirring constantly. Add the black beans and stock stir over medium heat until thicken and sauce reduces about half. Puree with an emulsion blender. I like to leave it a little chunky. Cover while preparing the fish. Prepare grill. (These can be done on the stovetop grill o broiler as well.) Brush fish well with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through about five minutes per side.) If you made the sauce a head reheat. Place fish on a plate and spoon over sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Pineapple Salsa

1/4 cup of olive oil
Juice of one lime
Juice of one lemon
4 tuna steaks, 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.

Prepare the grill. Mix the oil and lemons and lime in a small bowl and brush over the tuna generously. Grill the tuna steaks 5 inches over the heat for about 6 minutes per side until they are firm to the touch. (Many people like there tuna rare…that would be about 3 minutes per side. I personally like all of my fish cooked through. Not overcooked, but cooked through. Believe me I have taken much flack about this from chefs over the years, just another lesson for being true to your own tastes no matter what the “experts” say. Remove from grill and serve immediately with a generous amount of salsa.

Pineapple Salsa

1 medium sized pineapple
Juice of 2-3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup very finely slivered fresh ginger
1 white onion, cut into thin slivers
1 to 2 small red chilies, dried or fresh stemmed, seeded and cut into
Very thin slivers
1/2 cup coarsely cut cilantro

Peel pineapple, remove the “eyes,’ then core. Slice and cut into thin, matchstick slivers. Add lime and lemon juices, sugar, salt
ginger and onion. Taste for intensity of flavor; add additional sugar and/or salt if needed. Add chili slivers very sparingly,
tasting until you reach the degree you prefer. (Caution: The heat will intensify as the salsa stands.) Just before serving, stir in
cilantro. Best served within an hour or two of mixing.

Cedar Planked Salmon

1 – 2 1/2 to 3lb salmon fillet rinsed and patted dry

5 cloves garlic

3-tablespoon olive oil

Rosemary sprig, chopped

Thyme sprig, chopped

1-teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 18″ cedar plank, soaked in water 2 hours

Make small slits on the side of the fish. Slice garlic into slivers, and press into these slits. Coat fish with oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper.  On a hot gas grill or over very hot charcoal briquettes heat the plank for 5 minutes each side.  Place fish on plank and return to the grill. And cover.  Close vents 1/2 way and don’t open for 15 minutes. Check for doneness in middle of fillet…pink and flaky. Serve immediately.

Pesto Planked Salmon

1 18″ cedar plank, soaked in water 2 hours

1 – 2 1/2 to 3lb salmon fillet rinsed and patted dry.

1-cup fresh pesto

Juice of one lemon.

Spread pesto on fillet. Sprinkle generously with ground black pepper and lemon juice. On a hot gas grill or over very hot charcoal briquettes heat the plank for 5 minutes each side. Place fish on plank and return to the grill. And cover.  Close vents 1/2 way and don’t open for 15 minutes. Check for doneness in middle of fillet…pink and flaky. Serve immediately.


5 large garlic cloves

1-cup pine nuts (or walnuts work as well)

5 cups packed fresh basil

1-cup fresh parsley

1 cup fresh Parmigianino, coarsely grated

1 1/2 cup olive oil

In a blender or food processor mix garlic, nuts, basil, parsley and cheese and process until finely chopped. With motor running add oil mixing until incorporated.

Ginger Soy Salmon

4- 6 ounce salmon fillets

Juice and zest of 5 tangerines or 3 oranges

1/4-cup brown sugar

1-cup soy sauce

1-inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a bowel mix all but the salmon. I like to marinade the fish in the sauce for about one hour. Grill over high heat for about 7 minutes per side.

Wasabi Salmon Packet

1 salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 red bell pepper, julienne

1 small white onion, chopped

3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1/2-teaspoon wasabi paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Place salmon fillet, skin side down, on a large piece of aluminum foil. Combine butter, teriyaki sauce, and wasabi in a small bowl. Spoon over salmon and top with julienne red bell pepper and chopped onion. Seal fish with foil to form a packet. Place on grill and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until fish has a flaky center and cut into 4 pieces. Place the salmon fillets on top of the Gingered Slaw.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.