The heat index is rising and with the onset of summer I like to indulge in one of my favorite warm weather pass times … barbequing.
I thought barbequing would loose its luster when living a plant-based lifestyle; but, it has instead urged me to think outside the (lunch) box. As a result, I’ve become more creative with my outdoor entertaining.
I still offer the standard barbeque faire when I entertain such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken, sausage or some kind of fish; but now I widen the selection to include more plant-based options that everyone enjoys. Here are a few tips to add a healthy variety to your back yard shindig.
First, instead of limiting your appetizers to chips and dip, try adding new textures and flavors with a chilled soup. I LOVE serving a chilled gazpacho soup from a punch bowl nestled in ice. Ladled into cups, guests can drink in the goodness. I love it so much I often whip up a batch to keep it in the fridge for those moments when I just need “a little something.” It’s refreshing, super tasty and takes the edge off those summer hunger pangs.
Get creative when serving “sides.” While potato and pasta salads are the traditional summer accompaniments, think about adding a grain salad to your repertoire. Cook up a cup or two of brown rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries or faro. Mix in a can of beans; some fresh chopped veggies such as carrots, mushrooms, red onions, celery, peas etc.; a handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or mint; and a fresh dressing of lemon or lime juice with extra virgin olive oil.
Mix and match your ingredients for a great inventive salad that also serves as a meal. A platter of sliced grilled vegetables is always a colorful, healthy addition to any barbecue buffet table.
When it’s time for the big event, try throwing a few whole portobello mushrooms on the grill next to the beef and pork. Dressed on a roll with lettuce, tomato and a slice of avocado, a grilled mushroom is a lite, delicious stand-in for a burger. Friends and family will thank you for offering lighter options, especially since it’s bathing suit season.
An ice-cold slice of watermelon is always a great finale to a summer meal, as are s’mores. If you’d like to “veganize” your favorite childhood treat opt for Ricemellow Fluff (available at Whole Foods) instead of marshmallows and a square of extra dark chocolate … most graham crackers are dairy- and egg-free.
Utilizing a few of these tasty tips will not only add color, variety and healthy goodness to your summer table, it will also save you money. Plant-based dishes offer an abundance of nutrition and fiber that satisfy the body and leave less room for the heavier meat options.