New Year’s Resolution-Friendly BBQ Dishes for Food Lovers


Whether you write New Year’s resolutions, make an “in/out list,” or plan detailed goals for the new year, there’s a high likelihood that one of your initiatives is to eat healthier. In fact, according to Forbes, an “improved diet” is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, appearing in 32% of poll responses.

An improved diet doesn’t need to consist of just steamed vegetables and bland fish fillets. Making small but sustainable changes, like increasing the amount of protein you eat and preparing your own lunches a few times a week, can make a huge difference over time.

You might be surprised to learn that barbecue, known for its incredibly rich and smoky flavors, can be a great choice for a protein-rich meal. Adrian Davila, third-generation pitmaster at the helm of Davila’s BBQ in Seguin, Texas, shares some of his top barbecue picks for healthier eating in the new year.

How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Most folks who make New Year’s resolutions ditch them before the end of January. Here are a few tips to make sure you stick to yours.

Make Your Goals Attainable:

Set realistic and achievable New Year’s resolutions. Be honest with yourself about your current capabilities, resources, and time commitments. Setting attainable goals increases the likelihood of success and helps build a positive momentum.

Set Small Goals:

Break down your larger resolutions into smaller, more manageable tasks. This makes your objectives less overwhelming and allows you to celebrate small victories along the way. Achieving these mini-goals provides a sense of accomplishment and keeps you motivated.

Create a Detailed Plan:

Develop a clear and actionable plan outlining the steps needed to achieve your resolutions. A well-structured plan provides guidance and helps you stay on track, minimizing the chances of feeling lost or discouraged.

Track Your Progress:

Regularly monitor and record your progress. This helps you stay accountable and provides a tangible record of your achievements. Consider using a journal, mobile app, or any other method that suits your preferences to track and reflect on your journey.

Plan Rewards:

Establish a system of rewards for reaching milestones or achieving specific objectives. These rewards can be both small and large, serving as positive reinforcement for your efforts. Celebrating your accomplishments contributes to a positive mindset and supports the idea that hard work leads to satisfying results.

Foundations of a Healthy Diet

The foundations of healthy eating rest upon a balanced and nutritious diet that provides essential nutrients to contribute to overall well-being. One cornerstone of this foundation is the emphasis on a high-protein diet. Proteins are vital macronutrients comprising amino acids, the building blocks of tissues, muscles, and organs. Incorporating sufficient protein into your diet promotes muscle repair, immune function, and the production of enzymes and hormones. 

Beyond its structural role, protein also plays a crucial role in satiety, aiding in weight management by helping you feel fuller for longer. High-quality protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based options like tofu and quinoa. Balancing protein intake with various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats forms the bedrock of a nourishing diet.

High-Protein Barbecue Picks

Beef Jerky

Adrian likes making jerky because the smell of the meat and the spices that fill the air reminds

him of his grandfather. Plus, it’s easy to make and a very convenient on-the-go snack. He says, “A small investment in a dehydrator can make a big difference when making your own jerky, but if you’re not ready to purchase one, a practical alternative is to use the oven.” 

Pulled Pork

Although it’s rich in flavor and delicious smothered in barbecue sauce, pulled pork is actually a good source of protein. A 3-ounce serving provides about 22 grams of protein, not to mention several important vitamins and minerals like B6 and thiamine. To lighten up your usual pulled pork sandwich, make your own sauce so you can control the salt content and serve it as an open-faced sandwich.

Smoked Chicken

Chicken is a well-known lean protein, but it sometimes gets a bad rap as a bland, bouncy cut of meat. Try smoking your chicken for incredible flavor and tender, evenly cooked meat! Adrian likes smoking chicken with mesquite wood because it allows the delicate flavor of the meat andseasonings to come through with a less powerful smoky aroma. It burns quicker and hotterthan other woods, too. The chicken will crisp and turn a golden color, not the dark browncharred color produced by smoking with fruitwood.

Arroz con Pollo

Use any leftover chicken bits to make arroz con pollo, a chicken and rice dish closely related to paella. Adrian adds cumin and garlic to his version and often eats it wrapped in tortillas and drizzled with red sauce. For a lighter meal, skip the tortillas and add pickled onions, fresh herbs, and green salsa instead.

Red Snapper

Red snapper is a light and refreshing dish. You can create a colorful, beautifully presented, “all-in-one” meal with a few simple ingredients. It’s perfect for summer, especially because the fish cooks in lime juice. You can serve it on its own or with saltine crackers.

Pozole Verde de Pollo

A hearty soup, pozole, especially when made with chicken, is a nutritious and balanced meal. It’s also naturally gluten-free! The best way to prepare a better-for-you pozole is to make your own stock, which allows you to control sodium content. 


There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for healthier eating. Rather, the solution is to find what works best for your tastes and preferences. And you don’t have to do a complete overhaul. Even small, conscious choices like swapping your favorite fatty BBQ dish for a leaner cut can make all the difference a year from now. So what are you waiting for? Fire up the grill and get cooking!



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