Defaulting to the same old burger-and-hotdog grilling regimen could leave you feeling like you're losing your grill-master mojo! Spice things up (and save some serious cash in the process) by turning to these meat-free replacements for traditional grilling staples. "Meat can be part of a healthy diet, but since diets high in meat are associated with the development of quite a few negative health outcomes, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and overall reduced lifespan, it's important to keep our meat consumption in check," says Diana Rice, RD, staff dietician at Meatless Monday.
Having meatless meals from time to time also allows us to diversify our diets with all the protective elements of plant foods, including fiber and antioxidants, Rice notes. And as it happens, cutting back on our meat consumption is also good for the planet. "Raising livestock generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change (that's more than the transportation sector!) and also puts a strain on our water and fossil fuel supplies. Those same resources can be used to produce plant-based proteins at a significantly lower environmental cost. Here are our 20 tips for healthy green grilling.
Here Are Some Of Rice's Meat-Free Grilling Staples
Grill This: Portobello Mushrooms Not That: Beef Burgers
Big "meaty" Portobello mushrooms are great on the grill and always a popular burger substitute, Rice says. "Certainly mushrooms and marinated tofu have that 'umami' flavor we associate with meat," she adds. Big, thick slices of eggplant brushed with olive oil and then grilled are great between two buns, too! (Check out Meatless Monday's free e-book full of veggie burger recipes!)
Meatless Monday partner David Belknap, chef and proprietor of New York City's L&W Oyster Co. recommends this amazing veggie stand-in for hotdogs.
Try It: "Peel and poach heirloom carrots (starting in cold water) with sugar, salt, and a dash of curry powder, just until barely cooked," Belknap says. "Cool them back down and they're ready to throw on the grill just like a hot dog. Slather some spicy chutney on it and you have a killer vegan Indian dog!"
Try It: "Folks who shy away from okra for its sliminess can rest easy," O'Donnel says.
"Grilling okra whole dries, sweetens, and transforms them into umami-rich morsels." Larger pods can go directly onto grates; smaller okra fare well in a cast-iron skillet on the grill. Coat them in olive oil and salt for cooking, and garnish with sesame seeds.
Try It: To make O'Donnel's tofu tikka kebabs, drain extra-firm, non-GMO tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes. "I marinate it as if I were doing chicken tikka—with yogurt, minced fresh ginger, garlic, and a bunch of ground spices, including Madras curry, cumin, fennel seeds, cloves, chile pepper," she says. After an hour or so in the marinade, thread the tofu onto skewers, pat off the excess marinade, and grill over direct heat.
"A little char is nice here. I like to serve with a spicy ketchup or an ad hoc green sauce—cilantro, mint, lime, more garlic," O'Donnel says. "Great party fare."
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