Healthier Labor Day Feast

We survived the unofficial last weekend of summer! And don't feel all that guilty today.

We skipped the bottomless mimosa and bloodies, and avoided fruity alcoholic concoctions altogether. Actually we avoided alcohol all together on Labor Day and it feels so good not having a sugar-induced hangover this morning. I think I am going to just have to embrace simple low calorie sips like a good vodka with some soda water and a squirt of lime if I feel like having a drink. 

BBQ fare tends to be pretty high in calories, but if you only indulge occasionally, it's okay to sink your teeth into a juicy burger or savory bratwurst. I mean what is Labor Day without a burger?! But we went bun-less. You can save almost 200 calories by wrapping the meat in a cabbage or romaine leaf, or just eat the hamburger meat with a fork and knife. I also am super picky about my condiments and often make my own. You would be surprised how much sugar lives in mustard and ketchup and BBQ sauce. 

And of course by hosting the get-together yourselves... you'll have more control over what's being served than if you go elsewhere. You can create a menu with healthier, lighter options. So that's what we did! We labored in the kitchen for a small group of friends and had a wonderful time! I am still so full....

And of course do not skip the gym after the holiday. You will want to start your day by banking some calories. Wake up and start the day off on the right foot, instead of going right into leftovers or getting lazy. I personally cannot wait to crush it on that bike today at Physiques By Monique. And I have a weight sequence I am doing here in the living room. Today is leg day. My fabulous friend Leanne always says to start the week with leg day because it's hard so you can just get it done and out of the way. I am getting ready to start a "Break up with sugar challenge too". You all should join.  Here is the link for more info and it's totally free. My girl Courtney is hooking us up!!

So I know you came here for the delicious recipes so I will not leave you hanging another minute!!! Our menu was simple...and packed with flavor.

We did classic Labor Day fave like burgers and BBQ chicken and corn on the cob. But also threw in some shishito peppers, spiced sweet potatoes, and a delicious , refreshing watermelon salad. 

Gwyneth Paltrow's Shishito Peppers

Shishitos have a delicious and delicate, mild sweetness that’s offset with very subtle heat. The level of heat can vary though — about one in every dozen might be hot. So it's like a great game of Russian Roulette. Ha. Shishitos have a wrinkled skin with many grooves, which is an ideal surface to blister and char beautifully, when cooked quickly over high heat. These will act as a great little appatizer at your holiday party. 


  • 8-ounces fresh Shishito peppers, washed and dried
  • grape seed oil (Gwyn likes olive oil..I prefer grape seed oil with these) 
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


 Heat a little grape seed oil in a wide sauté pan until it is good and hot but not smoking. Add the peppers and cook them over medium, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister. They shouldn't char except in places. Don't rush. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook a panful of peppers. When they're done, toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slide the peppers into a bowl and serve them hot. You pick them up by the stem end and eat the whole thing, minus the stem, that is.

And then I absolutely love her Cheat's Aioli...(OMG...I could eat this on everything and it's vegan and gluten-free

1/2 cup Vegenaise

1/2 teaspoon very finely grated or minced lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 small garlic glove, very finely grated

A pinch of salt

And just combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Thank me later!!! 

Summer Watermelon Salad Recipe: 


  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups baby arugula or spinach..whatever you prefer--washed and spun dry
  • 1/8th seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces good feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned
  • sliced almonds 
  • Balsamic for the dressing

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough balsamic to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.


Spiced Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 – large sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 4 cups)
  • 4 – cloves of garlic (peeled and cut into long slivers)
  • 3 – tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 – teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1/2 – teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 – teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl

Then spread potatoes on a baking sheet. Make sure to spread them out evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes.


Oven-Roasted Corn witH Paprika:

  • 4 ears corn, husked
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Put your paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread a generous 1 teaspoon of the mixture on each ear of corn. Wrap each ear in a piece of foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Roast the corn, turning once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce

This is for your burgers and chicken!! 


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 cup grainy mustard
  • 2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup sugar free ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ cup water


  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil on low heat until soft and transparent. Whisk in remaining ingredients, cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more water. Taste and adjust seasonings Add more red pepper flakes if you want it spicier. Cool then refrigerate.

OMG you guys!!! Soooo soooo good!!

Hope you enjoy these. 

What did you have on your table for the holiday? Share your recipes with me in the comments please.