Summer holidays like Labor Day represent some of the best memories with family and friends: long weekends, warm weather, good times, and great food. But when you're constantly training and trying to hit certain calorie and macro counts, social gatherings — especially cookouts — can prove a challenge to your hard-earned discipline.
You don't have to sit out on the fun, however. We've got you covered with simple, healthy, and Spartan-approved Labor Day grilling recipes (from Spartan Pros and SGX Coaches) that pack a punch of powerhouse nutrients. Even if you don't have all of the ingredients — or need to get inventive with substitutes — these recipes are easy enough to adjust, and will inspire you to use what you have on hand.
Epic Labor Day Grilling Recipes for Your Next Cookout
SALADS & SIDES
1. Easy Bean Salad
TRY IT: From Spartan Pro Cali Schweikhart
Beans are an amazing source of plant-based protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. They can also help to stabilize blood sugar, and are high in vitamins such as folate, which is important for the growth and function of cells in your body.
"Plus, the olive oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, so on top of tasting amazing, this bean salad is some of the best training and recovery fuel you could eat!" she says.
- 1 can shoe-peg corn
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can dark red kidney beans
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 small onion, diced
- olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste
- Combine all beans and corn in a bowl.
- Rinse and strain to remove any access liquid from the cans.
- Add the tomatoes, onion, oil, balsamic, and seasonings.
- Toss it up and it's ready to go!
2. Watermelon Arugula Salad
TRY IT: From Spartan Pro Jamie Brusa
"This salad is a summertime favorite for me and my husband," Brusa says. "It is colorful, refreshing, and packed with nutrients. The arugula offers a peppery taste, is high in potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
"Blueberries bring in a sweet and slightly tart accent, and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and watermelon provides a source of lycopene (which can help boost immunity)."
- 1 small watermelon cut up into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup arugula (packed down)
- Fresh spearmint leaves to taste
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Feta cheese (optional)
- Combine watermelon, arugula, mint leaves, and blueberries in a large bowl.
- Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and mix well.
3. Avocado Smoothie Bowl
TRY IT: From Spartan SGX Coach Imad Al Din
This smoothie bowl is not only very easy to prepare, but you can play with the toppings as well, adding colorful toppings like honey, almond flakes, coconut flakes, chia seed, and mango.
"This recipe contains healthy fats and quality carbohydrates, you won’t feel full after eating it, and [you can make it sweet] as it replaces sugar cravings," Al Din says.
- 1 avocado, ripe
- Toppings, your choice: chia seeds, honey, almond flakes, dried fruit (basically any pantry staples that sound good)
- Cut and pit the avocado, and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Mash with a fork until it's relatively creamy.
- Add your toppings. Drizzle with honey.
1. Baked White-Fish Marinara
TRY IT: From Spartan SGX Coach Gino Meriano
No grill? No problem.
"You can cook this on the grill or in the oven," Meriano says. "In Italy, we used to cook it in a fire stove, old-school style, which appealed to me. I like to try different ways to cook this, and have made this recipe in the oven, on the grill, and even in a smoker."
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 4 fillets of any white fish you like (try cod!)
- 10-14 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3/4 tsp oregano
- 3/4 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- dash hot pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl add tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, hot pepper flakes, Italian parsley and olive oil. Mix gently to combine.
- Line a large baking pan with parchment paper (big enough to fold over the fish). Place the fish fillet in the pan—it's OK if they are touching. Top fish with tomato mixture, drizzle with olive oil and fold the parchment paper to cover the fish.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Uncover and drain excess water, raise heat to 400° and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
2. The Ultimate Veggie Burger
TRY IT: From Spartan Pro Lindsay Webster
"These are my favorite veggie burgers, with my modification of adding some small diced portobello mushrooms for extra moisture," Webster says. "These burgers are a staple in our home! My husband (Ryan Atkins) and I aren't vegetarians, but we try to eat vegetarian about five days a week because we find that keeps us feeling and firing at our best in training.
"Sometimes though, you just want a burger!"
These are great on a grill, but they're also great in the winter — pan fried or baked in the oven. They'll freeze really well, so Webster typically freezes the leftover burger patties and eats them ready-made whenever she's craving an easy post-cookout meal.
Ingredients: (makes 12 burgers)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 close garlic, minced
- 2 portobello mushrooms, diced
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1- 19 oz can black beans, drained, rinsed and roughly pureed
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 cup parsley or cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 cup almonds, roasted and chopped
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and chopped
- 3 cups fine bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups carrots, grated
- 2 cups oats
- flour for dredging
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- In a large skillet, sauté onions, mushrooms, and garlic in oil.
- Place in a large mixing bowl and let it cool a little.
- Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and shape into patties.
- Dredge patties lightly in flour.
- Toss right on the grill at 400°F for 4-5 minutes each side. Or heat vegetable oil in a large pan to brown the burgers on both sides.
(Note: A food processor comes in handy with this one.)
3. Salmon (Icelandic Style)
TRY IT: From Spartan SGX Coach Ólafía Kvaran
"I love salmon because it's healthy and nutritious, as it's very rich in omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of high-quality protein that provides all of the essential amino acids," Kvaran says.
Salmon also has a lot of vitamins and minerals, such as A, B, and D vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and more.
"I choose salmon because its easily digested and I feel good after the meal," she explains. "It prepares me well for my next workout, and I like to add carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes) to the meal for extra energy."
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 2 lb Atlantic salmon, boneless
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 2 tbsp freshly squeeze lemon juice
- 2 tsp lime zest
- Salt and black pepper
- Put the fish skin-side down on a piece of aluminum foil (for the grill) or baking tray (for the oven).
- Mix all ingredients together and gently rub the blend onto the fish.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook in the oven (at 350°F for 20 minutes) or the BBQ (at 400°F, for 15 minutes)
- Drizzle in lemon pepper sauce (below) when ready to serve.
Lemon Pepper Sauce:
- 250 g / 9 oz greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
- Lemon zest from ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- ½ tsp salt
Mix together and serve chilled.
DESSERTS & SWEET SNACKS
1. Cantaloupe Popsicles
TRY IT: From the Spartan Editors
Sometimes you just need a little sweet treat, and this cantaloupe popsicle recipe hits the spot. Not only are these pops rich in vitamins A and C, but they're also a solid source of potassium (the great recovery nutrient), and super easy to make. Plus, they're gluten free, vegetarian, and give ice cream a run for its money in flavor.
- 1 cantaloupe
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Slice the cantaloupe in half, remove the seeds and scoop out the meat and place in a blender.
- Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend.
- Pour puree into popsicle molds and freeze. No molds? Try an ice-cube tray with toothpicks.
2. Triple Banana Cinnamon Smoothie
TRY IT: From Spartan Pro Myriam Guillot-Boisset
"This recipe is full of energy and full of potassium," she says. "Eat a bowl of this and you'll be ready for a 60-mile bike ride."
- 8 fresh bananas, in pieces
- 3 dry bananas, in pieces
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Blend four of the fresh bananas together with cinnamon.
- Mix all together with the other chunks of fresh and dry banana in a big bowl. Pour to serve. Simple, but delicious and nourishing.
You already know how much we're into non-alcoholic beer. But you don't have to stick to water — especially when there's a holiday to celebrate. If you're focusing on recovery for the day, kick back with an alcohol-free cold one from Athletic Brewing Company. And if you're planning on enjoying a holiday buzz by allowing yourself to have some alcohol, crack open an ice-cold Mike's Lemonade Hard Seltzer.