Beyond the Basics: A Labor Day Cookout Menu

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By Recipe Team on September 1, 2020

As we approach the last grilling holiday of the year, it may be time to shake up some of the recipes we've been relying on all summer. So we searched the Carilion Living food files to find fun new twists on seasonal standbys like burgers, watermelon, peaches and iced tea. With exciting flavors like cumin, cilantro and jalapeno, the ideas below are worthy of a proper summer sendoff. 

And if you're wondering about red meat, here's what Christina Thomas, R.D., with Carilion Nutrition and Dining Services, has to say: "Red meat can be a part of a healthy diet in moderation."

"When enjoying the occasional burger, consider using a whole wheat bun and topping with lettuce, tomato or other vegetables for some extra fiber and vitamins," she said. "Instead of loading up on chips, have some carrot sticks or even a moderate serving of potato salad."

She also recommends fruit salad as a side.

So go ahead and enjoy; the menu below offers plenty of healthy ingredients to keep things balanced. 

To get the full recipe details, just click or tap through. (And while you're probably a pro at this point in the season, if you need a quick refresher on cookout food safety, we have that for you too.)

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa

How many times this summer have you had tomato-based salsa? Instead, kick off your cookout with this unique twist that perfectly balances cool, refreshing watermelon against hot, invigorating jalapenos. It will help keep you hydrated while you wait for the main course. 

Tortillas filled with watermelon salsa, beside watermelon and citrus slices, on a bright blue background.

Peach and Black Bean Salad

Of course we want to have fresh peaches as many times as we possibly can before the season ends. Here, this favorite fruit of summer is jazzed up with the flavors of fresh cilantro, citrus and jalapeno, then mixed with black beans for a fiber-rich side salad. 

Bowl of fruit and black bean salad in a black bowl with wooden spoon, on a red and orange tablecloth.

Cilantro-Cumin Burger with Tahini Dressing

As the star of this show, the backyard burger gets an Eastern Mediterranean makeover: drizzled with fresh tahini dressing and served in a whole wheat pita pocket (a healthier option than a white bun but with the same bready texture).

Burger with red onions served in a pita, with lettuce leaves and garlic cloves beside it, on a wooden table.

 Watermelon Granita

 Enjoying that burger doesn't mean you have to skip dessert—not when it's as low in calories and as light on sugar as this absolutely lovely pink granita.

Cups of pink granita garnished with mint leaves and slices of lime.

Green Tea and Mint Cooler

A healthier, lower carb version of the classic Southern drink, made with apple cider for natural sweetness, to keep you cool through the last heatwaves of summer.

Mason jars filled with green tea and citrus slices, served with colorful straws, on a rustic wooden table


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