Really trying to stick to that diet plan this summer? Same. But if you’re like us, you’re already scared of what food will be tempting you at the Summer kick off BBQ that your friend is hosting for Memorial Day Weekend. Alcohol + all of the delicious food you’ve been avoiding = recipe for disaster!

The best way that we’ve found that we can avoid cheating on a diet is to meal prep. Which is why we’ve come up with healthy alternatives to the traditional burgers and sides that are usually served during the holiday weekend. All of these items are super easy to make and can be prepared at home and brought with you to any MDW party! So whenever you’re feeling like you’re about to dive headfirst into the buffet table, you can chow down on your pre-made turkey burger, pesto chickpea pasta salad, grilled carrots, tomato and cucumber salad and crispy chickpeas without feeling guilty!

The Burger

Turkey Burgers: Recipe yields about 4 burgers

You’ll Need:

1 pound ground turkey

2-3 heaping tablespoons of tomato sauce

2 cloves of fresh chopped garlic

1 egg

1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (we suggest seasoned breadcrumbs but any kind is fine)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 teaspoon onion powder

Pro Tip: Adding tomato sauce to your ground meat recipe keeps the meat super moist without adding a tomato sauce flavor!

In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients above and form into patties. These burgers can be cooked on a cast iron skillet inside (New Yorkers stuck in the city, we’re lookin at you) or an outdoor grill. Cook on each side for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure that they are completely cooked through before adding your favorite toppings. For our meal we did arugula, onion, tomato and avocado!

If you’re really committed to your diet, we suggest eating the burger sans bun. But if you’re craving the burger, bread and all, we suggest Multigrain sandwich thins (which is what we put our burgers on) or Multigrain toast as a replacement for the traditional Potato or Brioche bun.

The Sides

Grilled Carrots: Recipe yields about 3 carrots per person

You’ll Need:

2-3 pound bag of carrots

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pro Tip: Leave carrot tops on for pretty presentation!

Peel carrots and place in a bowl. Drizzle will olive oil, mix in seasonings and toss. Grill for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat on a cast iron skillet or an outdoor grill OR roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes (we prefer roasting them in the oven but either works!). Carrots should be charred on the outside but soft on the inside. Use a fork to test!

Tomato and Cucumber Salad: Recipe yields about 4 portions

You’ll Need:

10-12 Plum (or Roma) tomatoes

3 stalks celery 

3 mini seedless cucumbers 

3 cloves fresh chopped garlic

handful of fresh chopped basil

1/4 cup olive oil

Cut the celery down the middle and then slice. Cut the cucumbers down the middle and then slice. Cut tomatoes in half, slice each half down the middle and then across to make 4 pieces (pieces should be about 1 inch in size). Add all of the ingredients above to a large bowl and mix. Let everything sit in fridge for 1 hour before eating or serving!

Pesto Pasta Salad: Recipe yields about 4-6 portions

You’ll Need:

1 box Banza (chickpea) pasta (any shape you like, for our meal we used rotini)

3 mini seedless cucumbers

1/2 container of Heirloom Cherry tomatoes or Cherry tomatoes

1 small container of crumbled Feta cheese

2-3 handfuls of arugula

Pesto sauce (store bought or homemade)

Cook Banza pasta, rinse with cold water and chill for 15-20 minutes. Cut the cucumbers down the middle and then slice. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Add all of the ingredients above to a large bowl, using as much or as little pesto sauce as you’d like. Add in the chilled Banza pasta and mix. Let everything sit in fridge for 1 hour before eating or serving! (Our homemade pesto sauce recipe is below for any overachievers! It does require a food processor.)

Homemade Pesto Sauce: Recipe yield about 1 cup

You’ll Need:

2 cups fresh basil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 cloves garlic

 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

Add the basil and pine nuts to the food processor and blend for a few seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients to the basil/pine nuts mix in the food processor and blend until smooth.

Crispy Chickpea: Recipe yields about 2 cups

You’ll Need:

2 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place on paper towel and make sure to dry completely. Add the chickpeas and the ingredients above into a large bowl and mix. Transfer chickpeas to a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until desired crispiness. These are perfect for snacking throughout the day!

Tag us @foodtoeat on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with pictures of your creations! Happy cooking!

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