The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

Healthy, Budget-Friendly Summer Grilling Recipes

july 4th healthy grilling recipes

As they say, the road is paved with good intentions, and when it comes to party planning at home, I generally have grand ambitions but then scurry to pull it all together at the last minute. Here are four of my recent favorite recipes, all of which are relatively cheap and quick to make — not to mention delicious, nutritious, and fresh — for your Memorial Day, 4th of July and other summer barbecues.

3-Mustard Chicken

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 white or white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • Dash of dry mustard (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

About 10 years ago, I learned to make a whole roasted chicken and mirepoix from Chef Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger here in Boston. The rub for the chicken was a 3-mustard sauce, and my own Ginger is a HUGE mustard fan, so I’ve adapted this recipe so many times over the years it’s now our absolute go-to salad dressing, marinade, and rub — especially since it’s both vegan (as a dressing, see below) and gluten-free. (I chose to show the chicken marinating, above, instead of cooked, so you can see the texture of the marinade.) We have several friends/family members with dietary restrictions, so it helps me to save peace of mind when cooking for a crowd! Use with chicken breasts or tenders for skewers, on the side or on top of the kale salad (below).

Photo: Eat, Live, Run

Kale, Orange, Almond & Avocado Salad

I found this recipe from Eat, Live, Run and immediately was smitten. We didn’t change much, though we have swapped almonds for Macadamia nuts and I prefer my homemade 3-mustard vinaigrette to the dressing they recommend. The bags of fresh kale from Trader Joe’s are perfect for doing this in a hurry — all you have to do is break them apart & pull out the tough stems and you’re ready to go. (TJ’s also generally sells bags of ripe avocados 6/$5, which helps offset a generally pricey ingredient.) Recently, we’ve also tried tossing this salad with leftover cooked quinoa, which adds protein to make this a complete meal for even your gluten-free, vegan friends!


Portobello Mushrooms with Fresh Thyme & Balsamic

I’ve always loved marinated mushrooms, but finally learned how to properly cook them on the grill recently from my friend Tyler. They’re so addicting, and meaty-tasting, that even the most carnivorous crowd won’t miss the steak or burgers. Plus, they literally take 10 minutes to make, start to finish!

  • 6-12 fresh, raw whole Portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse & clean medium to large mushroom caps, pat dry, then rub all over with olive oil. Turn capside down (stem side up) on a large plate, platter, or baking sheet. Drizzle balsamic vinegar generously inside the caps, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme to taste. Place mushrooms capside down (stem side up) on the grill on the top rack or low burn and cover for about 5 to 7 minutes, checking every few minutes until tender. Serve immediately and savor the awesome.


Quinoa Scallion Pancakes

One of the first recipes I ever pinned to Pinterest, this dish totally drew me in with its potential mix of superfoods (quinoa), fresh summer veg (green onions) and one of my favorite cheeses (Fontina). While we stuck to the original recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon for the most part, the key change I’ve made is to mix both red and white quinoa (equal parts) and to cook the quinoa using this secret tip from Low-Fat Vegan Chef (versus using the standard 1 part quinoa/1 part water directions). We also cubed the Fontina cheese into small cubes versus shredding, too, which has had a big impact. Make these in the cast iron skillet, either on the stovetop or right on the grill, up to 2 hours before the barbecue and serve hot or at room temperature. Instead of the (delicious but time- and labor-intensive) roasted garlic aioli, I’ve also served them with this quick aoili:

  • 1/2 cup light or soy mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco Chipotle work well)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsps)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

It was a HUGE crowd pleaser with all ages at my friend’s son’s 5th birthday last week. Plus, I’d been dying to try the trick from The Krazy Coupon Lady for saving & re-growing green onions in a mason jar — which totally works!


For dessert: S’mores, of course. Every single store I’ve visited in the last month has Graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows on sale, plus even if you’re urban-bound you can use the grill or fire pit to cook them.


Happy summer, everyone! If you have favorite healthy, budget-friendly BBQ recipes of your own, please share them with us all in the comments!

Story & photos: Copyright 2012, Shoestring LLC & Melissa Massello.

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