Summer Cookouts: a Celebration or Calamity

Table at a family cookout/barbeque. The table has a red and white checkered tablecloth, blue plates, watermelon, some grilled vegetables, mason jars filled with lemonade and a catchup bottle in the distance.
  • September 2, 2022

Who doesn’t love a good summer cookout?

As the season is winding down, many of us will use the long weekend ahead to enjoy one last summer cookout.

On this last weekend of summer, I love to see the lakes full of boats and camping sites bursting with campers, fishing poles and wet towels on strung on clotheslines between the trees. Highlighting the festivities, there’s often sparkling string lights strung up on patios, upbeat summer tunes playing in the background, and notes of something delicious cooking away on the grill all day long.

There’s nothing quite like ending a summer bash with a health complication or an unplanned trip to the ER as a result of too much sodium or sugar. Unfortunately, for those with heart disease and diabetes, this isn’t an uncommon ending to a holiday weekend. However, all that’s needed going into a holiday weekend is some forethought and planning. The goal is to have a great time enjoying every last bit of summer while also maintaining heart-healthy habits.

Why the extra vigilance around sodium during the summer holidays?

Sodium is found in many of the processed foods you might enjoy during a cookout including hotdogs, deli potato salad, chips, pickles, and most condiments used to dress up grilled meats. All that sodium can increase your blood pressure causing a fluid overload that sometimes requires hospitalization.

Enjoying a Heart Healthy cookout

Though many of the traditional cookout foods are high in sodium, there are alternatives that taste great without the detrimental health effects. In fact, we have several recipes that would be perfect heart-healthy dishes for an end-of-summer cookout. Our Black Bean Burger with Zesty Burger Sauce would make a delicious entre and our Lemony Hummus Dip would make a great snack or appetizer paired with raw veggies.

It's easy to lose track of your sugar intake during these celebrations too when there is so many tempting treats and snacks laid out all day for grazing between the swimming, fishing, and cornhole. Try our Simple Homemade Lemonade in the place of sweet tea or soda for a fun cookout drink without the elevated blood sugar effects. For an easy dessert that can be prepared ahead of time and enjoyed at the campsite, try blending your favorite frozen fruit with fat-free Greek yogurt for a sweet treat without the added sugar.

Regardless of your end-of-summer plans, I encourage you to spend the extra time planning to maintain your heart’s health. The extra effort will help to ensure that you not only enjoy the end of summer to the fullest but the upcoming fall season as well. The extra effort is always worth it in the end!

Lemony Hummus Dip  

Serves 8 - ¼ cup servings


  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 dashes hot sauce (to taste or as desired)
  • Water or unsalted vegetable broth, as needed


  1. In food processor, puree all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add water or vegetable broth one tablespoon at a time, or as needed to thin out the hummus to desired consistency.
  3. Serve with raw vegetables and fruit such as savory jicama, crisp apples, crunchy celery, sweet carrots, or bright bell pepper. You can also serve it with baked no-salt-added or low-sodium whole wheat tortillas.


  • A tablespoon of no-salt-added or low-sodium stone ground mustard can help both to smooth out the hummus and make it a bit richer in flavor.
  • Make this hummus even more savory by increasing the minced garlic and/or ground cumin by one teaspoon or more, as desired.
  • Make a double batch and use it as a zesty sandwich spread or stuff in cherry tomatoes for an easy afternoon snack or appetizer.

Black Bean Burger with Zesty Burger Sauce

Serves 6 – ⅓ cup patties


  • 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans
  • 1 teaspoon Pritikin All-Purpose Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated white onion
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons liquid egg whites
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unseasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • Canola oil cooking spray

Zesty Burger Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon no-salt-added or low-sodium stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon Pritikin All-Purpose Seasoning
  • Pinch of ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, use a spoon to blend all Zesty Burger Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Drain, but do not rinse black beans. The extra liquid in the beans will help serve as a binder for the burgers. Place beans in a medium-sized mixing bowl with Pritikin All-Purpose Seasoning, cumin, and black pepper. Mash with a fork until about three-quarters of the beans are smashed, but some remain intact.
  3. Grate the onion with a box grater, using the side with the largest grate.
  4. Add onion, corn kernels, garlic, liquid egg whites, 1 tablespoon prepared Zesty Burger Sauce, and ½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs to bean mixture. Combine well.
  5. With water-dampened hands, scoop about ⅓ cup of the black bean burger mixture and shape into individual patties. Place patties on a flat surface.
  6. Evenly sprinkle ½ teaspoon of remaining whole wheat breadcrumbs onto each side of the black bean burgers. Gently press breadcrumbs onto the patties.
  7. Gently mist a large nonstick skillet with canola oil cooking spray and warm over medium-high heat. Sauté black bean burger patties until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  8. Top each patty with a teaspoon of Zesty Burger Sauce before serving.


  • Top these burgers with sliced tomatoes and red onion, and serve on a low-sodium whole wheat bun or wrapped in iceberg lettuce.
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