Summertime can be hot over a grill, so I think fall is the best grilling season,
Even without giving up meat, medical research shows that reduced consumption of animal foods equals reduced risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and even cancer.
Grilling animal flesh creates chemicals called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which increase the risk of certain cancers. However, grilling veggies, veggie burgers or bean burgers do not carry the risk of these carcinogenic chemicals.
Consider some plant-based meal ideas on the grill this fall:
Assorted Grilled Veggies. Grill up a big batch of grilled veggies like bell pepper, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus and mushrooms. Instead of oil (not good for the heart/waistline), toss in a balsamic or flavored vinegar, and season with dry seasonings of your choice. Grill until no longer raw and grill marks appear. Add grilled veggies to these meals:
- bowl of brown rice, farro or quinoa, together with some beans and greens and drizzled with your favorite no-oil condiment.
- whole grain wrap smeared generously with hummus, with lettuce or spinach
- hearty green salad; just cool grilled veggies slightly and add edamame or other bean also to the salad—hearty enough for your main dish!
- whole wheat pasta (or GF pasta) is fantastic with grilled veggies on top with a nice no-oil spaghetti or marinara sauce.
Grilled (Hasselback or Foil Pouch) Potatoes. Cut thin slices into russet or gold potatoes with skins still on, without cutting all the way through. Place garlic slices in between each slice, and brush generously with 1 Tbsp cornstarch heated in 1 cup veggie broth, or tahini thinned with veggie broth. Sprinkle with a touch of Himalayan salt, garlic powder, paprika and black pepper, or your favorite seasonings. Grill time depends on the size of your potatoes (about 20 minutes for smaller potatoes). Top with roasted garlic hummus or red pepper hummus if desired. For pouches, add bite-sized chunks of potatoes tossed with veggie broth and seasonings including rosemary to a foil pouch. These can also be made in the air fryer.
Grilled Corn on the Cob. Not new, but try grilled corn without butter or oil (remember, oil is not good for the heart or waistline). Remove husks and grill on medium-high heat for a few minutes on all sides until some charring occurs. This means the sugars have caramelized and deep flavor develops. Experiment with lime juice and dry seasonings like an Italian blend, chili or chipotle seasoning, or just enjoy the beautiful flavor of the corn as it is right off the grill. Taste the sweetness.
Grilled Mushrooms. Brush some Portobello mushroom caps with a marinade of balsamic vinegar, deli mustard and a little maple syrup. Brush again while grilling. Enjoy these like a burger in a bun with all the fixings, or sliced thin and added to a bowl of rice with beans and/or veggies. Sometimes we slice them larger and serve with mashed potatoes just like they were slices of grilled meat.
Grilled Fruit. My favorites are peaches and pineapple, but try watermelon, pears, bananas and figs. Fruit is transformed when caramelized on the grill. Use medium high heat to avoid sticking, or grill on foil to capture the juices.
Other ideas are grilled tofu, eggplant, cauliflower steaks, or homemade veggie burgers. Enjoy the colorful variety of healthy, delicious, hearty meals on the grill. Try these easy burgers by one of the popular plant-based registered dieticians, Rick Novick:
Rick Novick’s Easy Burgers
- 2 15oz cans low-sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp Mrs. Dash or other no or low-salt seasoning
- BBQ or teriyaki sauce for basting
Rinse and drain the beans thoroughly and add to a large bowl, mashing them well but some chunks of beans are OK.
Add the oatmeal, rice, sauce and spices and, with clean hands, mix thoroughly until it looks like meatloaf.
Form and shape into patties and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm.
Grill both sides (5 minutes or so) to get grill marks, turning very gently, but don’t grill too long or they will become hard and dry.
Eat in a bun dressed like a normal burger, or on a bed of rice or slaw.
Melissa Sherlock is a certified Food for Life Instructor, public speaker and health coach living in Omaha, Nebraska, who has been plant-based for almost 14 years. For questions, contact her at email@example.com. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the VCEI website at veganeasterniowa.org/ or join the group on Facebook and Meetup.