While summer hangs around for a few more weeks on the calendar and for sometimes a month or more based on the weather, there's no question Labor Day represents the last blast for 'summer' summer, the time with long languid days and fewer responsibilities. The pools and beaches close, the schools open, and like it or not, fall is on the way.
Many of us like to send summer off in style with a party, but a lot of barbecue favorites are less than optimal from a healthy-eating perspective. But if you open your mind and try some new simple, delicious recipes you'll be amazed at how much more satisfying a healthier approach can be.
*Switch up your protein. Instead of burgers or ribs, try shrimp (thread it onto skewers for easier turning), marinated flank steak, or chicken thighs. Or, of course, grill veggies: I toss halved peppers and slices of eggplant, summer squash and red onion with a little olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper, and throw them on the grill. Serve them up with cheeses and some grilled bread...even a carnivore will say yum.
Try new sides. Forget about mayo-laden potato salad or corn dripping with butter. Instead, grill that corn (here's a recipe for grilled corn with roasted garlic and herbs), or try a grain salad (like warm farro with braised radishes, or toss quinoa with corn, black beans, cilantro, and tomatoes and a bit of lime juice). And tomatoes are just coming in in many spots, so try an heirloom tomato salad. If you can't find or don't want to spend the money on heirlooms, good old backyard tomatoes are going to taste nearly as delicious and worlds better than a sad January hothouse tomato.
Rethink dessert. If you have a grill, some foil, peak-of-ripeness summer fruit, and a few other no-fuss ingredients, you can make an amazing dessert. Try grilling berries or nectarines in foil packets and then present them with grilled pound cake or frozen yogurt and crushed gingersnaps for a perfect light finale to summer meals.
What's on your Labor Day menu?