Grilling Season After Going Vegan

By: Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD

Summer fun, backyard fires and sunny weather abound. Picnic baskets and gingham tablecloths are making an appearance again. Grilling season is upon us… but this year, you’re vegan. Some items on the menu will look different, but the thrill of a barbecue won’t be compromised when you’re ready with flavorful plant-powered ingredients.

Classic foods that bring out smiles include some “naturally vegan” dishes such as corn on the cob, grilled fruits, baked potatoes and fresh salads. Corn on the cob already has great presence, 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, nondairy sour cream, chives or salsa. A side salad is usually a welcome addition to a cookout and can be a way to add crunch and color to a meal.

Let’s review five popular foods to revamp for a successful vegan grilling season:

  1. Kebabs. Protein, vegetables and fruits are alternated along bamboo skewers for this fun food presentation. There’s no need to default to animal proteins; instead try extra-firm tofu, tempeh, seitan, faux “chick’n” strips or mock sausage pieces. Pair your protein with squash, bell peppers, onions and pineapple, and punch it up with a trusted BBQ sauce.
  2. Burgers. Savory Portobello mushroom caps, 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.
  3. Hot dogs. An easy solution is to switch to veggie dogs like Simple Truth™ Plant-Based Meatless Sausages; however, chipotle jackfruit or a properly marinated carrot (yes, that’s a thing!) could be your new go-to.
  4. Deviled “Eggs.” Often a staple at summertime feasts, 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. Stuff the tomato or spud with a puree of garbanzo beans, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast and vinegar, then top with ground paprika.
  5. S’mores. These fun desserts have a few challenging components: gelatin in the marshmallows, milk in the chocolate and honey in the graham crackers. A new twist on this food idea is grilled banana boats. Grab a banana, slice lengthwise on only one side, lay it on the grill and stuff with dark chocolate chips, peanut butter, bee-free graham crackers and nondairy whipped cream.

Click here to meet Molly Hembree, a Registered Dietitian with Kroger Health!