Cookout Classics: 10 Paleo Things to Eat at Your Labor Day BBQ

Batter fried chicken, cold pasta salad and ambrosia with a cold frosty beer to wash it down?

Not exactly.

While these may be traditional foods you’d expect to see at any neighborhood Labor Day cookout, it’s not a given that the cuisine has to focus on dishes such as these.

What did the first Labor Day celebrations offer on their menu?

Not that much food, actually.

The first Labor Day festivities included speeches an abundance of cigars and Lager beer kegs mounted in every conceivable place[1].

Cigars and lager?   Again, not exactly the healthiest of dining options!

But what is there to serve aside from grilled meats, which certainly are part and parcel of any Paleo friendly barbeque, but on their own, not a completely balanced offering in terms of macronutrients and nutrient density.

Below you’ll find my wrap up of the top ten must haves that you can whip up and grill in minimal time that will be sure to please your guests of all ages.

  1. Crudités with Guacamole

Who needs chips when you’ve got a selection of fresh, crisp veggies to dip into your homemade guac? If you think about it, those corn chips are really just a vehicle to transport all the goodness avocados have to offer from the bowl into your mouth, so why not maximize it by using a carrot, celery, bell pepper or slice of jicama instead?

  1. Raw Sprouted Nuts

Another incredibly simply offering to have on hand for those guests who like to pick- serve up some sprouted walnuts, the healthiest nut[2], tossed with a homemade spice blend of paprika, cumin, nutmeg and a dash of cayenne for some zip!

  1. Raw Kale Salad

Who doesn’t love kale by now?   One of the highest-ranking leafy greens on the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index)[3] chart, it’s essential to enjoy it raw, at least some of the time, to balance out all those kale chips you may have been chomping on. Check out my signature recipe here!

  1. Mixed Green Salad

A salad can be boring, indeed, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Think mixed wild lettuces, avocado, olive oil as only the beginning and then add to your heart’s desire any or all of the following: fresh berries, toasted macadamias, leftover grilled or raw veggies and any fresh herbs you procure at the farmer’s market.

  1. Grilled Asparagus

One of the easiest methods to prepare veggies is to wash them and throw them on the grill! No need to toss them in oil; wait until they’re cooked and then drizzle on some of that EVOO in order to keep it from oxidizing over those piping hot coals. Asparagus is not only delicious, it also happens to have an extra benefit in helping to fight yeast overgrowth in the gut[4], an all too common condition that many people are dealing with as part of their path to optimal health.

  1. Grilled pasture-raised chicken

Butterfly your chicken, place it on the grill and place your cast iron skillet on top of it in order to make a simple version of chicken under a brick. Guests will think you’ve recreated the wheel when they see the presentation!

  1. Grilled grass fed flank

A quick marinade prepared the day before by whizzing cilantro, parsley, lime, garlic and olive oil in the food processor will take what could have been a tough, chewy piece of meat to a whole new level. Make double marinade and save the rest to serve on top of the meat after it’s cooked and rested.

  1. Grilled Bell Peppers

It really doesn’t get easier than this. Wash, halve and discard seeds and stem, then throw them on the barbie.

  1. Grilled Peaches & Pineapple

For anyone who’s still got room, or who has a bit of a sweet tooth, grilled fresh fruit will offer a surprisingly satisfying finish to the meal. Scrape off a section of the grill (unless you want your fruit to taste like steak) and place peach halves or pineapple slices over the flame until softened. Remove from the grill and place on a plate tented in foil and serve after 10 – 15 minutes. Scatter fresh basil or mint on top for a flavor profile with a bit more depth.

  1. Signature Cocktail

If you or your guests would like to partake, you can create a simple, non-grain based cocktail with your choice of theme. Opt for a potato or grape-based vodka, potato gin or tequila and keep it neat…or add something simple like an olive, or herbs.   Go for savory, not sweet and make sure to keep hydrated by pacing yourself with water rather than pounding the drinks! There’s room on a lifelong paleo inspired regime… just don’t overdo it as though you were back in college… even if you’re still in college!

Most importantly, be safe and enjoy a lovely holiday weekend!

[1] Kanalley, Craig. “Labor Day History: 11 Facts You Need To Know.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2015.

[2] “Which Nuts Have Omega-3 Fatty Acids?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 Sept. 2015

[3] ANDI Guide.” Whole Foods. Whole Foods

[4] Uma, B., K. Prabhakar, and S. Rajendran. “Anticandidal Activity of Asparagus Racemosus.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Medknow Publications, May 2009. Web. 03 Sept. 2015