Healthy BBQ Recipes for Spring/Summer Gatherings in Orange County: Flavorful and Nutritious Grilling Ideas

Healthy BBQ Recipes for Spring/Summer Gatherings in Orange County: Flavorful and Nutritious Grilling Ideas

Welcome to the vibrant season of spring and summer here in Orange County, where the sun shines brighter and our gatherings move outdoors! As we embrace these warmer months, it’s the perfect opportunity to refresh our meal planning with flavors that are not only delicious but also nourishing. I’m Dr. Linette Williamson, and I’m excited to share with you some healthy BBQ recipes that are ideal for your next outdoor gathering. These recipes focus on maximizing nutrition without sacrificing taste, ensuring that each meal contributes positively to your health and vitality.

At my practice, we understand that food is medicine, and what better way to heal and nurture our bodies than through community and good food? The recipes I've selected are designed to be easy to prepare, wonderfully flavorful, and packed with nutrients that support our overall well-being. From Grilled Citrus Herb Chicken Skewers that offer a high-protein option with the zest of fresh citrus, to a vibrant Grilled Vegetable Platter that turns seasonal produce into a festive and flavorful feast, each dish is crafted to enhance your health and delight your palate. Let’s dive into these recipes and prepare for a season of joyful, healthy eating!

Grilled Citrus Herb Chicken Skewers


- 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

- 2 tablespoons olive oil

- 1 tablespoon honey

- 1 teaspoon lemon zest

- 1 teaspoon orange zest

- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

- Salt and pepper, to taste

- Wooden or metal skewers, soaked in water if wooden

Preparation Steps:

1. In a large bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, honey, lemon zest, orange zest, chopped thyme, and chopped rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Add the cubed chicken to the marinade, ensuring that each piece is coated evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.

3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Thread the marinated chicken onto skewers, leaving a small space between each piece.

4. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and has nice grill marks.

5. Remove the skewers from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if desired.

These grilled citrus herb chicken skewers not only taste delicious but also offer a range of health benefits. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall health. By grilling the chicken rather than frying it, you can keep the dish low in unhealthy fats and calories.

Additionally, the citrus juices and zest in the marinade provide a hefty dose of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function, promotes healthy skin, and aids in collagen production. Combined with the fresh herbs, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, these skewers are a nutritious and flavorful addition to any spring or summer meal.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Balsamic Glaze

When it comes to selecting vegetables for your grilled platter, the options are endless. Opt for a colorful variety of seasonal produce, such as bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and red onions. Cut the vegetables into uniform slices or chunks to ensure even cooking and easy handling on the grill.

Before grilling, toss the vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs or spices. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the grates, taking care not to overcrowd the grill. Grill the vegetables for 4-6 minutes per side, or until they are tender and lightly charred, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Incorporating more vegetables into your diet offers a multitude of health benefits. Vegetables are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, which are important for maintaining overall health and well-being. They also provide a wide range of phytonutrients and antioxidants that help protect against chronic diseases and support optimal immune function.

To add an extra layer of flavor and nutrition to your grilled vegetable platter, drizzle it with a balsamic glaze made from balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is not only delicious but also boasts antioxidant properties that can help reduce inflammation and promote heart health. Plus, its tangy sweetness pairs perfectly with the smoky char of the grilled vegetables, creating a mouthwatering combination that's sure to impress your guests.

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers


- 4 large bell peppers, any color

- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

- 1 cup diced tomatoes

- 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)

- 1/2 cup diced onion

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 teaspoon ground cumin

- 1 teaspoon chili powder

- Salt and pepper, to taste

- 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)

- Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

- Avocado slices, for serving (optional)


1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes from the inside. Place the hollowed-out bell peppers in a baking dish, standing upright.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and the water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, ground cumin, and chili powder, and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.

4. Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, and corn kernels to the skillet, stirring to combine. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the mixture is heated through and the flavors have melded together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cooked quinoa until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

6. Spoon the quinoa and black bean mixture into the hollowed-out bell peppers, pressing down gently to pack the filling. If desired, sprinkle shredded cheese on top of each stuffed pepper.

7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the bell peppers are tender and the filling is heated through.

8. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly (if using).

9. Remove the stuffed bell peppers from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with avocado slices, if desired.

This quinoa and black bean stuffed bell peppers recipe not only tastes delicious but also offers a plethora of nutritional benefits. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans. Additionally, quinoa is rich in fiber, which aids in digestion and helps keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Black beans are another nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They provide a steady source of energy and help stabilize blood sugar levels, making them an ideal addition to any balanced diet.

Bell peppers, meanwhile, are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. They contribute to eye health, immune function, and overall well-being, making them a nutritious and colorful addition to this stuffed peppers recipe.

Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa

Ingredients for the Mango Salsa:

- 2 ripe mangoes, diced

- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion

- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

- Juice of 1 lime

- Salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the Grilled Salmon:

- 4 salmon fillets, skin-on or skinless, about 6 ounces each

- Olive oil

- Salt and pepper, to taste

- Lime wedges, for serving

Grilling Tips for Salmon:

1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Clean and oil the grill grates to prevent sticking.

2. Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels and brush them lightly with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place the salmon fillets on the preheated grill, skin-side down if using skin-on fillets. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets, or until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.

4. Avoid flipping the salmon too often to prevent it from sticking to the grill. Use a wide spatula to carefully flip the fillets halfway through cooking.

5. Remove the grilled salmon from the grill and transfer them to a serving platter. Serve immediately with the mango salsa and lime wedges on the side.

Salmon is not only delicious but also highly nutritious, thanks to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential fats that play a crucial role in heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation in the body. By incorporating salmon into your diet, you can enjoy these health benefits and support overall well-being.

Meanwhile, mangoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate. Vitamin C boosts immunity and promotes collagen production for healthy skin, while vitamin A supports eye health and immune function. Folate is essential for cell growth and DNA synthesis, making mangoes a nutritious addition to any meal.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Honey Yogurt Dip

Selection of Fruits:

- Pineapple chunks

- Strawberries, hulled

- Mango chunks

- Banana slices

- Kiwi slices

- Peach or nectarine slices

- Any other favorite fruits, such as grapes or watermelon cubes

Assembly Instructions:

1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill.

2. Thread the prepared fruit onto the skewers in any desired pattern, alternating between different fruits to create colorful kabobs.

3. Lightly brush the fruit skewers with a bit of melted butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking on the grill.

4. Place the fruit skewers on the preheated grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the fruits are slightly charred and caramelized, turning occasionally to ensure even grilling.

5. Remove the grilled fruit kabobs from the grill and transfer them to a serving platter.

Incorporating fruit into your diet offers a multitude of health benefits. Fruits are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which promote overall health and well-being. They also provide dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, is a nutritional powerhouse packed with protein and probiotics. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, while probiotics promote gut health and support immune function. By pairing grilled fruit kabobs with a honey yogurt dip, you not only add creaminess and tanginess to the dish but also boost its nutritional value, making it a guilt-free indulgence that's as delicious as it is nutritious.

Dr. Williamson's guidance can help you return to an improved quality of life.

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