Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Linda Hirst

Eating clean is just about effortless during grilling season. 

Gillie Houston
June 22, 2018
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While to many, June marks the start of summer, to us it welcomes an even more important time of year: grilling season. However, for the many Americans getting a kick-start on their summer health routine by jumping on the Whole 30 bandwagon, participating in the backyard BBQ festivities might feel intimidating, if not impossible. 

Luckily, grilling season is actually the most Whole 30-friendly time of year, as fresh and simple proteins and vegetables are the cornerstones of the program—and two of the most important players in the grill game.

Whether you prefer to stick to classics, like hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob, or like to branch out with a slightly more gourmet summer spread, these cookout-approved recipes and tips will make building an entire Whole 30-friendly spread a breeze. Begin by stocking up on program-approved groceries from Trader Joe’s, Costco, Aldi, or Amazon, and let’s get cooking. 

WATCH: How to Make 4 Easy Whole 30 Recipes

Proteins

The sky’s the limit when it comes to all of the meaty mains to make for your Whole 30-friendly cookout. Whether you’re preparing a simple dish dressed with just salt, pepper, and olive oil, or are attempting to recreate a BBQ classic with paleo-approved products, your guests won’t even know they’re feasting on a Whole 30 approved feast.

Burgers – Building a compliant burger is incredibly easy, as the main required ingredients—ground beef and seasonings—are all perfectly in line with the diet. Craft your own simple burgers from scratch with some salt, pepper, garlic, and the herbs of your choice, or shoot for an upgrade, like Mushroom Beef Burgers or Spiced Beef Burgers or our Perfect Grilled Burgers. Have buns and cheese slices on hand for your non-Whole 30 guests, and serve your personal patty lettuce-wrap style topped with tomato, onion, and avocado.

Hot Dogs – While hot dogs probably aren’t the first food you think of when it comes to clean eating, there are plenty of organic, uncured options on the market that are sugar- and filler-free. Check out Applegate Naturals’ line of beef, chicken, turkey, and pork dogs to fulfill all of your grilling needs. 

Chicken, Steak, and Pork – Up your grill game with these compliant proteins perfect for a food-loving crowd. If chicken’s your thing, give some Mojo Grilled Chicken 

or Rosemary Chicken Kabobs a try. For something on the redder side, a simple Garlic Flank Steak or Smoked Pork Shoulder will do the trick. This quick and simple Spice Rubbed Flank Steak is also a budget-friendly crowd favorite (just eliminate the brown sugar). And if you absolutely can’t imagine a barbecue without ribs, make these Easy BBQ Ribs using a paleo barbecue sauce, like Tessemae’s Organic BBQ Sauce or one of Not Ketchup’s five varieties of the sauce.

Fish - Whether you’re pescatarian or just prefer something on the lighter side, this simple Whole Grilled Fish recipe will be a standout dish of your party. Or, opt for something slightly easier and family-friendly like these Grilled Salmon Kabobs.

RELATED: The Beginner's Guide to Grilling Everything Perfectly

Sides

With the endless amounts of fresh, flavorful produce available in the summertime, you won’t be hard-pressed to come up with some delicious vegetable and fruit-based sides that all of your friends and family—even the most Whole 30 incredulous—will love.

Grilled Corn on the Cob - This classic is easy to pull off and an instant crowd pleaser. Offer butter for those not on the program and ghee for the Whole 30 folks in attendance.

Potato Salad – A big batch of Grilled Potato Salad made with sugar-free organic bacon is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters, or recreate a classic creamy potato salad by swapping in a paleo-approved mayonnaise like this avocado oil-based version for the regular stuff.

Deviled Eggs – The paleo mayo swap also works for Deviled Eggs, which has a completely compliant ingredient list save for the mayonnaise portion.

Salad  - Whether you’re sticking with a simple bowl of greens, or go all out with a refreshing Watermelon and Arugula Salad or Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad, it’s easy to craft a program-approved bowl of veg. Just make sure you stick with a Whole 30 compliant dressing, like Primal Kitchen Ranch or Tessemae’s Caesar

Coleslaw - Instead of opting for an indulgent mayo-based version of this classic, try this colorful recipe with a tangy vinegar punch, or a spicier version with Serrano chilies.

Green Beans – For some crunchy greens in the mix, give these Chive Green Beans a try. Just make sure you substitute ghee for butter to make it 100-percent Whole 30 approved. 

Sweet Potato Fries – We challenge you to find a single BBQ guest who doesn’t love sweet potato fries, and this simple recipe will do the trick.

Grilled Watermelon – Because we should all be eating as much watermelon as possible from June through August, make this warm, sweet-and-savory recipe for your cookout—just be sure to hold the feta cheese, or serve it on the side for non-Whole 30 guests.

Crudité  - You can’t fail with a big platter of crunchy, in-season vegetables. Serve your favorites with a bowl of Paleo Habanero Ranch dressing or simple guacamole for dipping.

RELATED: 125 Sensational Summer Sides

Beverages

While cold beers, cocktails, and wine coolers are out of the question, you can still make your Whole 30-friendly summer beverages fun and festive. Set up a seltzer bar with plenty of sliced up fruit, mint, and funky straws. Mix up your own H20-based mocktails, like a Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail (hold the vodka) and you won’t feel left out of the boozy revelry.

Desserts

Dessert is the always the most restrictive course when it comes to Whole 30 dining, due to the program’s total ban on both sugar and dupe recipes that are meant to replicate typically indulgent dishes. So, in the dessert category you’re best off sticking with a classic: fruit salad.

For a treat that beats the heat—though faux ice creams are technically discouraged by the program—break out the food processor and whip up some banana-based ‘nice’ cream topped with berries. By the end of the BBQ, we can all but guarantee that every one of your guests will be blown away by just how good a Whole 30 compliant feast can be.

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