Low Calorie BBQ Menu Ideas

AAA Print

Mouth watering foods grilled under summer skies are a highlight of the summer season. Unfortunately, the calorie count for some traditional BBQ dishes can ring in at 700 or more calories per serving. If you want to grill and still look great in a swimsuit, add some delicious low calorie choices to your BBQ menu.

Healthier Hamburgers

You don't have to give up hamburgers when watching your calories:

Low Calorie Burger Recipe

Yield: 4 burgers

Calories per serving: 381

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 pound of lean (90% or leaner) ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 4 toasted whole grain buns
  • 2 tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • Dill pickle slices
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 4 leaves of lettuce
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Cook onion, garlic, oil and tomato paste about five minutes in covered saucepan, stirring frequently for about five minutes.
  3. Uncover and reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
  5. Mix ground beef, soy sauce and pepper into onions.
  6. Divide into four patties.
  7. Heat on oiled grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
  8. Serve on whole grain buns with lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayonnaise and ketchup.

Low Calorie BBQ Menu Ideas

Other Guilt-Free Main Dishes

For a light change from traditional barbeque fare, try some healthy, low-calorie dishes that won't leave you feeling deprived:

Orange-Lime Grilled Shrimp with Tarragon Recipe

Yield: 8 servings

Calories per serving: 306

  • 3 lbs of jumbo shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon of shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 limes, cut into small wedges
  1. Mash garlic, shallots and salt to a paste.
  2. Transfer to a blender and combine with juices and pepper until smooth.
  3. Add oil to mixture slowly and blend.
  4. Pour dressing into a bowl and whisk in tarragon.
  5. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  6. Marinate shrimp in about a quarter of the dressing in a bowl for no longer than 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, brush lime wedges with dressing and cook about five minutes, until grill marks appear.
  8. Place lime wedges on serving plate and grill shrimp on lightly oiled rack, for about seven minutes, turning once.
  9. Remove shrimp from grill and arrange with limes on serving plate.
  10. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve.

Grilled Tofu and Veggies

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Calories per serving: 207

  • 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of fresh rosemary
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces of extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced into eight pieces
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 summer squash, sliced
  • ½ sweet onion, cut in small chunks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • 8 button mushrooms
  • 1 cup of arugula
  • Extra rosemary sprigs for garnish
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and garlic.
  3. Stir in rosemary and add salt and pepper.
  4. Dip tofu and vegetables in marinade, a few pieces at a time, and turn to coat.
  5. Transfer to plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Grill vegetables about five minutes, turning occasionally until soft and charred. Remove from heat.
  7. Grill tofu until charred; about two minutes per side and remove from heat.
  8. Serve tofu and vegetables on a bed of arugula and garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Tempting Low Calorie Side Dishes

You won't miss those fattening extras dripping with mayonnaise when you serve this lighter, healthier salad.

Creamy Vegetable Pasta Salad

Yield: 5 servings

Calories per serving: 252

  • ½ cup of low-fat ranch dressing
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup of no-fat sour cream
  • 1½ teaspoons of chopped chives
  • 1½ teaspoons of dill
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked whole-wheat pasta
  • 3½ cups of chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup of red onion, diced
  • ½ cup of green peas
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 5 Cups of mixed baby greens
  1. Combine first six ingredients until well blended. Adjust seasonings if desired.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Cover and refrigerate to blend the flavors for about a half hour before serving.

Sweet Grilled Fruit

Cook up something sweet on your grill and still fit into your jeans after you've eaten:

Grilled Baked Apples

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 240

  • 4 medium red apples, cored
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • ¼ cup of chopped dates
  • ¼ cup of agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Place each apple on a 12-inch square of heavy-duty foil.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients together and spoon an equal amount of mixture into the center of each apple.
  4. Fold foil up over apples to seal up tightly.
  5. Grill apples in foil for about 20 minutes.

Lots of fruits grill well. For some variety, try grilled peaches, pineapples or nectarines.

So fire up the grill and have a great barbeque. The only thing missing will be the extra calories.

Last Updated: June 14, 2012
AAA Print

About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.