Man-Friendly Father's Day Food Ideas

Are real barbecue ribs slathered in sauce or rubbed with dry spices? It depends on who you ask. (Photo: TMON/Shutterstock)

I don’t really like to stereotype food, as I think that men and women can both enjoy a wide variety of foods. My meat- and potato-loving dad, for example, loves trying all sorts of foods. For his last birthday, I served him a French Lentil and Vegetable Soup with pesto. He also enjoys trying a lot of different ethnic foods.

But I certainly know many men who fit the stereotypical steak-eating diet. Keeping in mind that every man (and woman) likes different things, I thought I’d offer some suggestions about what to share with your dad or spouse on Father’s Day. All of these options are healthy and delicious, whether your dad loves curry or steak.

For the beef-loving dad

A classic steak dinner is a solid choice for dad. (Photo: Lisovskaya Natalia/shutterstock)

If you dad looks forward to steak on Father's Day, why not serve grass-fed (pastured) steaks this year? Just don’t be tricked. Almost all cows are raised on pasture for the early stage of their lives. Later, conventional cows are brought to feedlots to fatten up. So if a package says “grass-fed,” it’s pretty meaningless. Look for 100-percent grass-fed or pastured beef. Not only will the cow have had a happier life, pastured beef has a much higher nutrient level, a different omega-3 content, and less saturated fat.

Here are two recipes to use with grass-fed beef.

The Best Grass-Fed Steak: You need to treat pastured beef a little differently than conventional beef. I’ve used these instructions for making steak with delicious results.

Sweet and Sour Ribs: I "healthified" a favorite family recipe. It’s very sweet and sour and messy.

For the crowd-loving dad

mushroom cheddar baked potatoes
Offer up a variety of toppings for baked potatoes and keep the entire family happy. (Photo: freeskyline/Shutterstock)

If your Father’s Day is full of family and friends and you are looking for healthy but frugal ideas for feeding a crowd, look no further. Here are three of my favorite ideas. (You can always ask family members to bring components of the meal for all of these ideas.) Like always, these ideas are only as healthy as the ingredients you use to make them.

Taco Salad: Make a do-it-yourself taco salad bar. Place a huge bowl of chopped Romaine lettuce surrounded by bowls of pinto or black beans (use homemade, if you have time), shredded cheese, salsa, chips (to crumble into the salad), avocado and a dressing or two. I serve with a salsa and sour cream dressing (in a 1-to-1 ratio) and a creamy avocado dressing.

Baked Potato Bar: Make a load of potatoes and serve with sour cream, chives, shredded cheese, homemade chili, and chopped red onions. You can also serve this with sweet and sour ribs or grilled steak.

Waffle Bar: Set up a couple of waffle irons (borrow some, if needed), make up a healthy batter, and serve with naturally sweetened whipped cream, fresh berries, real maple syrup, sautéed apples, or other toppings. You can also make a giant pan of scrambled eggs and/or bacon or sausage.

For the animal-loving dad

Vegetable and quinoa salad
Quinoa is a great plant-based protein. (Photo: Ildi Papp/Shutterstock)

I live in Portland, and I guarantee you that there are a lot of vegan or vegetarian dads in our city. Here are two ideas for a filling, delicious main dish from my favorite vegetarian blog,

Ginger Soba Noodles (Vegan if you use sugar)

Double Broccoli Quinoa (Vegetarian as it uses dairy)

For the outdoor-loving dad

That picnic spread looks tasty, but is it safe?. (Photo: MSPhotographic/Shutterstock)

If you are planning an outdoor celebration, make-ahead dishes are great. Salads are always healthy and fun.

Thai Salad with Spicy Dressing: A great salad to pack for a picnic.

Basil Potato Salad: A simple salad, perfect to go with a barbecue or a sandwich.