11 Healthy Picnic Dishes That Don’t Taste Like Diet Food

Updated: Jul. 10, 2017

Tired of the same old mayo-laden potato and macaroni salads? Check out these fresh, healthy sides that'll liven up your summer picnic or barbecue! Bonus: All recipes are from registered dietitians.

Courtesy healthy-inspiration.com

Kale salad with grapes, walnuts & blue cheese

The perfect superfood mix—rich in calcium, resveratrol (for anti-inflammation), and vitamins A, C and K. If you haven’t jumped on the kale bandwagon, now is the time. Easy to toss together and beautiful to present. This nutritional powerhouse dish is from dietitian and blogger, Jennifer Hunt, RD.

Courtesy bytesizednutrition.com

Cherry caprese pasta salad

Ohio-based dietitian Kara Golis, RD, developed a tasty twist on a pasta salad, optimizing on summer cherry bounty. Creamy mozzarella cheese meets tangy arugula and balsamic vinaigrette for the perfect combo. Arugula is rich in folate, and vitamins A and K—and it’s great in your salad. For a big party, this makes a huge amount (10 cups!), so you are set to go. You can find the full recipe at bytesizednutrition.com.

Courtesy ericajulson.com

Grilled zucchini with mint, lemon & feta

If your grill is already fired up, this is the ideal recipe for your cookout. Super low-calorie zucchini grills beautifully, and when complimented with mint, lemon and feta flavors, it’s even gourmet. (Zucchini is surprisingly versatile—you can even use it as a substitute for pasta.) Dietitian Erica Julson, RD, created this simple and elegant dish. Associated with improvement in stomach discomfort and IBS, mint makes a healthful addition to this veggie side.

Courtesy food4success.com

Roasted summer vegetable panzanella

Take advantage of these summer veggies to make this classic Italian bread salad. Zucchini, rich in vitamin C, and tomatoes, bursting with lycopene provide color and flavor to this panzanella. Be sure to use a dense bread, that’s about a day old, for a hearty dish. Fresh basil, known to be bursting with antioxidants, rounds out the salad perfectly. Brought to you by Karman Meyer, RD.

Courtesy food4success.com

Seafood pasta salad

Skip the goopy mayo-based macaroni salad this summer and opt for dietitian Elissa Lueckenmeyer’s seafood version instead. This dish is so high in protein, from the crab (or surimi), it can easily stand in for a summer dinner all alone. It’s sure to be a hit if you make it for a side dish at your next BBQ. So simple, it’s tossed with an Italian salad dressing for a lighter flavor than traditional macaroni salad. In fact, it can be customized with a few additional family favorite veggies to boost the nutrition content even more. Find the recipe at food4success.com.

Courtesy emilykylenutrition.com

Rainbow grilled veggie kabobs

Kids and adults alike will love these colorful, healthful veggie kabobs from dietitian Emily Kyle, RD. Threading red tomatoes, orange peppers, yellow and green squash, and purple eggplant and onions creates a cute rainbow on a skewer. You can bring the ingredients to a party and let the littles make their own, or bring them prepared and ready to grill. Pop this on the grill briefly, and that’s all there is to it. Eating a rainbow of colorful summer produce was never easier.

Courtesy shahzadidevje.com

Street-style spicy grilled corn

You might hesitate to tackle fresh corn on the cob, but you’ll husk with confidence using these tips. Grilling fresh seasonal corn brings out such delicious flavors. If your grill’s already fired up, you’re half-way finished with this side from dietitian Shahzadi Devje, RD. This simple version of butta, Indian street corn, will satisfy all your summer BBQ needs. The key: A unique seasoning blend of oregano, red chili powder, amchur (mango powder), garlic, paprika and thyme. Fresh sweet corn sprinkled with these flavors results in a dish your friends will devour.

Courtesy nutritionalanatalie.com

Summer fruit bruschetta

I am loving this decadent style of bruschetta: Top the cute toasted bread slices with a fresh watermelon salsa, or creamy goat cheese and kiwi slice. Dietitian Natalie Rizzo, RD, twisted the traditional appetizer into a cool, vitamin C-packed variety. Sweet, savory, and a little spicy—these bite-sized munchies will satisfy all your friends.

Courtesy nutritionstarringyou.com

Tri-colored pepper potato salad

How about a makeover for traditionally heavy potato salad? This lighter side dish from dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, RD, includes red potatoes mixed with red, green and yellow bell peppers. Bells are incredibly rich in vitamin C, with one pepper providing 200% of your daily needs. High in fiber, this vinaigrette-based potato side dish is sure to please your crowd.

Courtesy abbeyskitchen.com

Grilled avocado & watermelon salad

If you haven’t grilled avocado, you are missing out! Rich in healthy fats, quick heat brings the creamy avocado to a heavenly texture. Coupled with grilled watermelon, caramelizing that summery sugar, this salad is not only nutritious, but beautiful. Abbey Sharp, RD, dietitian and blogger at AbbeysKitchen.com, brings you the recipe for this anti-oxidant packed, gluten-free side dish.

Courtesy staceymattinson.com

Red, white & blue angel food cake skewers

Celebrate dessert patriotic style with these adorable fruit kabobs made with multi-colored berries and store-bought angel food cake. Texas-based dietitian Stacey Mattinson, RD, created this perfectly fun recipe for the little party attenders to put together. All the berries—blue, black, straw, and raspberries—are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, fiber and immune-boosting phytochemicals.