16 Healthier Dishes to Make for Dad This Father’s Day

16 Healthier Dishes to Make for Dad This Father’s Day

06/11/2014 – 11:22pm by Tara Fuller

A quick online search of “Father’s Day recipes” turns up results of pork, steak, and wings galore. And while an abundance of meat and fried foods can certainly be delicious (for both father figures and the rest of us), there are many healthier bites that can also do the trick—and set you apart as the golden child (or at least provide an incredible menu). After all, Father’s Day is all about making your main man feel special, right?

This Sunday, head to the kitchen and serve up something that shows dad just how awesome he is. From beer floats to a kale salad that satisfies even the most dedicated carnivore, we can promise these eats will get a bigger smile than yet another cheesy card and World’s Best Dad coffee mug.


Photo: Maple Old Fashioned / Kimberly Schiffel

1.Maple Old Fashioned The only thing old-fashioned about good ol’ dad (besides his dance moves) is likely his taste in drinks. Spiked with maple whiskey, this classic drink brings back memories of the glory days while ensuring every sipper enjoys the present.

2.Smoky Michelada Beer Cocktail In the battle of beer versus Bloody Mary’s, it can be difficult to pick the one true winner. The good news is: You don’t have to! This recipe meshes the best of both flavors, providing an extra kick of chipotle chili and a touch of sweetness courtesy of honey. Extra Bonus: Honey boosts energy, which will help push through that post-cocktail urge to nap (1).

3.Jalapeno Margarita One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, happy Father’s Day! This healthier twist on a classic margarita skips the blender and relies on fresh fruit juice and agave to give it a sweet taste without an excess of added sugars. It can even be lightened up with the addition of lime seltzer—because who doesn’t love enjoying cocktails without the impending fear of a vicious hangover?


Photo: Three-Cheese Jalapeño Poppers / Chung-Ah Rhee

4. Three-Cheese Jalapeño Poppers The saying is true: Once you pop, you just can’t stop! Especially when it comes to these crunchy poppers. But fortunately, the spice of the jalapeño helps promote moderation. They’re even delicious wrapped and baked with turkey bacon. Can you say nom-aste?

5.Sriracha Baked WingsSriracha, so hot right now—literally. And while wings may not be the healthiest pre-dinner snack, these bad boys are baked instead of fried, which helps cut back on fat without sacrificing flavor Plus, the capsaicin in chili peppers can suppress that hangry appetite and speed up metabolism (2) (3). What’s not to like?

6.Buffalo Chicken Artichoke Dip Ooey gooey cheese dip can be considered healthy when it’s filled and topped with veggies, right? Though this crowd-pleaser is dairy heavy, it’s also packed with protein, spice, and fiber, which will help keep those bowels healthy after a long day of hearty eating. 


Photo: Kate Taylor

7.Heirloom BLT Salad with Coconut Bacon We can’t believe it’s not bacon! Seriously: The coconut “bacon” in this hearty kale salad tastes so similar to its pork counterpart, dad won’t guess he’s eating a healthy dish loaded with vitamins. If he does catch on, simply boast about kale’s cancer-fighting superpowers (4). We’re just looking out for you, dad!

8.Grilled Moroccan Veggie Skewers Keep calm, and skewer on. At least that’s what the inner grill master in all of us likes to say. And why not? Grilling is a great way to both enjoy warmer weather and also bring out the ripeness of seasonal veggies. Paired with a tangy marinade and tzatziki, these veggie skewers will delight even the most carnivorous of father figures. 

9.Blistered Shishito Peppers with Whipped Lemon Goat Cheese Holy shishito, these peppers are delicious! Dipped in citrus-infused goat cheese, it’s hard to resist eating the entire plate. The heat is tolerable, so you just might. But that’s ok: Goat cheese is easier on the stomach than most dairy and noshing on peppers is a far better choice than store-bought potato chips.


Photo: Meagan Wied

10.Lemongrass Pork Ribs Move over, BBQ sauce: There’s a new marinade in town. It’s not that we don’t love a classic, but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up and serve the unexpected.  This mix of apple juice, lemongrass, and soy sauce is a refreshing departure from the typical sugar-laden BBQ topping that leaves hands ever so sticky. Don’t worry, we still encourage licking your fingers—but you can pass on the hand wipes and potential sugar crash.

11.Grilled Cauliflower “Steak” Burgers Tomāto, tomato. Steak, cauliflower? The difference between burger patty materials may be more than pronunciation, but they’re still interchangeable and a great way to diversify any menu. Not to mention, cauliflower is packed with vitamins and minerals and can help prevent strokes. We call that cauli-flower power.

12.Grilled Flank Steak with Pistachio Chive Pesto Despite its tainted reputation, red meat isn’t all bad for us. So treat the dad in your life to a lean, flavorful cut like this flank steak, and watch his spirits soar. Topped with healthy-fat-infused pesto and disease-fighting garlic, eating this dish will make him both healthy andhappy—which is something we can get behind.

13.Veggie Crockpot Lasagna You know what tastes great with mounds of cheese and pasta? An abundance of veggies. Now, when we say “mounds”, we really mean a few healthy layers—but there’s plenty of comfort food in this recipe to complement the piles nutritious greens. It even tastes great with chicken sausage or more veggies like zucchini and squash. Go ahead, go wild. 


Photo: Emily Caruso

14.Mini Guinness Chocolate FloatsSt. Patrick’s Day may have been months ago, but that doesn’t mean Guinness should take cover till next year. These mini floats are full of chocolate brownie ice cream, splashed with stout, and topped with whipped cream, making them the perfect decadent dish to top off an evening with dad. Overstuffed from the rest of the fancy feast? Worry not, these come served in shooters. Bottoms up!

15.Strawberry Spice Sorbet Sugar and spice and everything… strawberry. Though sorbet may not seem like the perfect dessert for dad, we beg to differ. It’s full of ginger, cinnamon, and natural fruit (if you make the puree yourself, which we recommend), and makes for a healthy alternative to the coveted ice cream sundae. Want to add a little oomph? Sprinkle with cacao nibs or drizzle with melted dark chocolate.

16.Vegan Salted Dark Chocolate Maple Bacon Bark Bacon bark may sound like a dog treat, but it’s actually a healthy dessert made specifically for the fatherly man in your life—or anyone who enjoys the perfect mix of salt, sweet, and crunch. Just don’t tell anyone the “bacon” is actually coconut (Unless they’re vegan, in which case feel free to brag all about the health benefits of eating meat-free.). 

What’s your favorite dish to make for Father’s Day? Share below in the comments!


  1. Low vs. high glycemic index carbohydrate gel ingestion during simulated 64-km cycling time trial performance. Earnest CP, Lancaster SL, Rasmussen CJ, et al. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2004 Aug;18(3):466-72[]
  2. Effects of capsaicin, green tea and CH-19 sweet pepper on appetite and energy intake in humans in negative and positive energy balance. Reinbach HC, Smeets A, Martinussen T, et al. Clinical Nutrition. 2009 Jun;28(3):260-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.010. Epub 2009 Apr 3[]
  3. The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. Ludy MJ1, Mattes RD. Physiology and Behavior. 2011 Mar 1;102(3-4):251-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.11.018. Epub 2010 Nov 18[]
  4. Chemoprevention of cancer by isothiocyanates, modifiers of carcinogen metabolism. Hecht SS. The Journal of Nutrition. 1999 Mar;129(3):768S-774S[]
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