3 reasons Dad doesn’t have to grill this Father’s Day

I grew up in a household where only Dad did the grilling. While working hard to support a family of six, he still had it in him to grill burgers, hot dogs (in our household, it was Nittany Lion Franks – it’s a Penn State thing!), steak, chicken, you name it. I even remember him making tuna steaks that he caught on a fishing trip to the Chesapeake Bay.

If dad is the grill master in your household, and you want him to take a load off – AND, like me, cooking over an open flame isn’t your thing, unless it involves holding marshmallows on a stick and sinking your teeth into a gooey…


…anyway, then you might want to consider incorporating these three lightened-up versions of Dad’s favorite foods into your Father’s Day feast.

  1. Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers with Feta
  2. Pulled Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce
  3. Turkey Meatloaf

I’m sure he’ll appreciate not having to stand outside in the summer heat over a fire!

Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers with FetaIMG_8787

As soon as I went off camera during my WJBF appearance in April and made it back to the control room to return my mic, I received an email from a reader who was interested in a healthier hamburger recipe that doesn’t involve turkey. I was stumped – until I thought of the store-bought black bean burgers that I eat sometimes.

I tested these on my friends at a Memorial Day cookout, and they loved them! In terms of nutritional value, between the black beans and quinoa, this burger is packed with plant-based protein!

Serves 8


  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion onion or shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ of a 15.25-oz. no-salt-added corn, rinsed and drained
  • 3.5 oz. reduced-fat feta crumbles
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • Optional: 8 whole-wheat hamburger buns


  1. Cook quinoa per package instructions.IMG_8785
  2. While quinoa is cooking, heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion or shallot, and cook for about 5 minutes or until onion or shallot is translucent. Stir in half of the black beans and the garlic, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about a minute, just long enough to warm and soak the beans in the oil for easier mashing.
  3. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and mash with a fork. Add cooked quinoa, and stir in remaining black beans, corn, feta, chili powder and cumin.IMG_8786
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and generously coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
  5. Shape bean mixture into 8 patties, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top. Allow patties to cool for about five minutes.
  6. Coat the top side of a spatula with cooking spray, and carefully flip patties. You’ll likey need to reform them a bit with the spatula and with your hand. Bake 15 minutes more, or until both sides are crisp and brown.

Pulled Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce

I love pork BBQ – so much, in fact, that we served it at our down-home wedding in rural Virginia. I think that the best pork BBQ sandwich I ever ate was at a tractor pull that Nate took me to just a couple of weeks after we moved to Augusta. However, I choose to eat this very rarely due to the fattiness in the cut of meat used to make pork BBQ – anything from the shoulder to the belly – and calories, sugar and carbohydrates in the sauce.

Serves 8


BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup mixture (from turkey meatloaf recipe below, minus the stevia):
    • 1 Tbsp. water
    • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
    • 6 oz. can tomato paste
    • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. hot sauce

Pulled Chicken

  • 2 lb. chicken breast, trimmed
  • Water


BBQ Sauce

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, and allow to simmer while you prepare the chicken.
  3. Serve by spooning on top of pulled chicken.

Pulled chicken

  1. Place chicken breasts into a saucepan, and pour in enough water to cover.
  2. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked and no longer pink, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Transfer chicken breasts to a separate dish, allow to cool and shred with two forks.
  5. Serve on top of a whole wheat bun.

Note: You can also cook the chicken in a crock pot set on high for 3-4 hours or set on low for 6-8 hours, but I find that this approach makes the chicken shred too finely.

Turkey Meatloaf

IMG_8784My husband, Nate, loves the turkey meatloaf I make. In fact, it started off as a Christmas tradition that lasted two years, until we decided to do something different for our first Christmas as a married couple, in 2014.

This recipe is lighter than the traditional beef meatloaf recipe and even most turkey meatloaf recipes all the way down to the ketchup mixture. Here’s how:

  • Meat: lean ground turkey breast instead of ground turkey and beef to cut back on fat
  • Filler: wheat flour or oat flour instead of bleached flour
  • Binder: egg whites instead of egg with yolk to cut back on calories, fat and cholesterol
  • Ketchup mixture: easy-to-make homemade mixture instead of ketchup to cut back on sugar and sodium; ketchup contains 4 grams of sugar and 190 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon

Serves 8


Ketchup mixture

  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 8 Tbsp. or packets stevia
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2-6 oz. cans tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 1 tsp. or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey breast
  • ¾ cup wheat bread crumbs or oats, ground into flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • ⅛ cup ketchup mixture


Ketchup topping

  1. IMG_8783Pour water into medium saucepan, and set heat to medium-high until boiling. Add stevia, stir and reduce heat to medium.
  2. Pour apple cider vinegar into same saucepan.
  3. Add tomato paste and garlic, stir and reduce heat to low.
  4. Mix well, and remove from heat. Set aside.


  1. Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and generously coat loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute for about five minutes or until onions are translucent and slightly golden, then transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  3. Mix together onion/garlic mixture, turkey, wheat bread crumbs or wheat flour, egg whites and ketchup mixture (just ⅛ cup!), place in loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. Spread thin layer of remaining ketchup mixture over the top of the meatloaf, and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Links to Other Recipes for Dad


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