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Spread of picnic food including kabobs and a chickpea salad.

It’s not easy to fit it all in — work, meals, cleaning, exercise, family, personal time — and enjoy a holiday, too. That’s why I thought it’d be helpful to offer a simple, healthy menu perfect for an outdoor dinner over the long weekend. All of the recipes are a breeze to put together, and are so tasty that they may end up being summer-long staples.

Red, White, and Blue Chicken Kabobs

The flavor-packed blueberry sauce helps give these kabobs a festive and colorful look. Prep them in advance and throw on the grill right before you’re ready to eat.

Makes four servings (eight kabobs)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Nutritional Info: Calories: 230 | Protein: 40 | Fat: 1 | Carbs: 6

Red, white and blue chicken kabobs

INGREDIENTS

Blueberry BBQ Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup ketchup (low sugar, organic)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs. molasses
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

Kabobs

  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3 red peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

DIRECTIONS

Put all of the sauce ingredients into a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thick and slightly chunky, continuing to stir occasionally. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Thread the chicken and peppers onto skewers. If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before using. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about eight to 12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking.

Transfer the cooked kabobs to a platter and drizzle the Blueberry BBQ Sauce over them before serving.

Baked Zucchini Chips

If you’re a salt lover like me, you can’t have a picnic without something salty and crunchy to munch on. Vegetable chips are a great alternative to store-bought and processed options. They taste great plain, but you could also try them with a yogurt or hummus dip.

Makes three to four servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Nutritional Info: Calories: 41 | Protein: 1 | Fat: 3 | Carbs: 2

Zucchini chips

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 zucchinis, sliced into thin, round slices
  • Coconut oil
  • Sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top. Coat the rack with coconut oil. Place the zucchini slices in a single layer on top of the wire rack and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before serving.

Chickpea Chunky Salad

Nothing says summer more to me than a fresh and chunky salad packed full of flavor and healthy seasonal produce. This is actually my favorite recipe to batch prep for my lunches during warmer months.

Makes four servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour marinade time

Nutritional Info: Calories: 141 | Protein: 2 | Fat: 9 | Carbs: 13

Chickpea chunky salad

INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

Dressing

  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

DIRECTIONS

Combine all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano. Pour over the salad and toss thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour prior to serving.

Bonus Recipe: Red, White, and Blue(berry) Popsicles 

Who doesn’t enjoy a cold popsicle on a hot day? It’s the perfect treat for both kids and adults. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, this recipe is easy to modify to be dairy-free.

Makes six servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours freezer time

Nutritional Info: Calories: 173 | Protein: 6 | Fat: 4 | Carbs: 30

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bananas, peeled, cut, and frozen for at least 2 hours
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 3 cups full-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries or cherries

DIRECTIONS

Add the blueberries, 1 cup yogurt, and 1/2 banana to a food processor or blender. Blend well. Add to a popsicle mold until it’s about 1/3 full.

Add one frozen banana and 1 cup yogurt to the food processor or blender. Blend well. Add to the same popsicle mold until it’s 1/3 more of the way full.

Add the strawberries or cherries, 1 cup yogurt, and 1/2 banana to the food processor or blender. Blend well. Add to fill the rest of the popsicle mold.

Insert popsicle sticks into the base of mold and freeze until hardened.

SUBSTITUTIONS (optional)

If you don’t have popsicle molds, use cups and popsicle sticks, straws, or spoons.

If you want vegan or dairy-free popsicles, with each fruit option, use one full banana and 1 cup coconut or other nut milk.

Keep the conversation going.

Leave a comment, ask a question, or see what others are talking about in the Life Time Training Facebook group.

anika-christ
Anika Christ, RD, CPT

Anika Christ is a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and the director of client optimization at Life Time. She’s known to many as “Coach Anika,” and is one of the original virtual coaches who continues to lead a number of digital programs each year. She started at Life Time in 2008 and has spent her entire career helping build Life Time’s nutrition and fat-loss programs. When she’s not at work, she enjoys reading, lifting weights with her husband, and playing with her two daughters.

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