School is out of session and there is talk of summer vacations. Backyard fires and sunny weather abound. Picnic baskets and even those gingham table cloths are making an appearance again. Grilling season is upon us… But this year, you’re vegan. Albeit the menu will look different, the thrill of a barbeque won’t be compromised when you’re ready with flavorful plant-powered ingredients.
Classic foods that bring out smiles around the grill include some “accidentally vegan” entries like corn on the cob, grilled fruits, baked potatoes, and fresh salads. Corn on the cob already has great presence with an impressive OptUP score of 88, but add on fun fixings like chili lime, sriracha aioli (hot sauce + vegan mayo + garlic), arugula walnut pesto, or “parmesan cheeze” (nutritional yeast + ground raw cashews), and it could be the VIP of your meal. Pears, watermelon, and peaches are eye-catching with grill marks and bring a smoky flavor to a food normally only considered sweet. Baked potatoes can take center stage when packed with favorites like “bacUN” bits, black beans (OptUP score: 100), nondairy sour cream, chives (OptUP score: 80), or salsa. A side salad is usually a welcoming addition to a grill out and can be a way to add crunch and color to the gathering.
Let’s revisit five popular foods to revamp for a successful vegan grilling season:
- Kabobs. Protein, vegetables, and fruits are interchanged along bamboo skewers for this food presentation. There is no need to default to animal proteins; instead try extra-firm tofu (OptUP score: 76), tempeh (OptUP score: 84), seitan, faux “chick’n” strips, or mock sausage pieces. Pair your kabob up with squash, bell peppers, onions, and pineapple, and punch it up with a trusted BBQ sauce.
- Burgers. Savory portobello mushroom caps (OptUP score: 90), charred eggplant slices, cauliflower “steaks”, lentil patties, or flame-grilled slider alternatives will have you forgetting all about meat. Popular toppings like ketchup, mustard, relish, lettuce, and tomatoes are all inherently vegan.
- Hot dogs. An easy solution is to switch to veggie dogs like Field Roast Meatless Sausage or Lightlife Smart Dog Protein Links (both with OptUP scores of 50), however chipotle jackfruit or a properly marinated carrot (yes that’s a thing!) could be your new go-to.
- Deviled Eggs. Often cited as a necessity of summertime eats, deviled eggs seem to leave little room to veganize. Wrong. Try spooning out Roma tomatoes or Private Selection Petite Gold Potatoes rather than conventional eggs towards this dish will increase your OptUP nutrition score by 24 and 26, respectively, and grow from a yellow to a green OptUP purchase. Stuff the tomato or spud with a puree of garbanzo beans, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, and vinegar, then top with ground paprika.
- S’mores. These fun desserts have a few challenging components: gelatin in the marshmallows, milk in the chocolate, and/or honey in the graham crackers.A rival to this food idea is grilled banana boats. Grab a banana and slice lengthwise on only one side, lay on the grill, and stuff with dark chocolate chips, peanut butter, bee-free graham crackers, and nondairy whip cream
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.