“Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,” the slogan from the 1990s, hasn’t really aged that well. Due to its high cholesterol and saturated fat content, there have been many studies that consistently link eating red meat to getting heart disease and dying from it.1 That’s not to say we have to give up red meat entirely, but the American Heart Association encourages limiting the amount we eat.
So what’s all this mean for summer grilling season? Well, if you’re looking to switch up your beef-based grill go-tos—or go full vegetarian or vegan—there are many yummy plant-based options to try. Meat-free barbeque may sound like an oxymoron, but trust us—it’s not! Check out our guide to going meatless when firing up that grill.
What meatless means
You’ve probably seen the ads by now: White Castle made an “Impossible Slider,” Burger King created the “Impossible Whopper” and McDonald’s produced the “PLT (plant-lettuce-tomato) burger.” Fast food chains followed the lead of numerous grocery store chains that recently upped their plant-based product game.
These “burgers” use a mixture of plant-based ingredients instead of meat from animals to form patties. The meat alternatives may include pea proteins, rice, soy, legumes like beans, starches and grains, and various spices. Vegetables and fruit ingredients, as well as oil or butter products, can be added for burger-like color and texture. They are usually rich in fiber—a healthy diet “must”—and often high in protein, too. Popular brands include MorningStar, Boca, Gardenburger and Beyond Meat, but you can also make your own veggie patties at home.
If burgers aren’t your thing, there’s meatless chicken made with pea protein, corn flour and pea starches, as well as meatless bacon and sausages. There are even fish alternatives that replicate the seafood taste and many of its health benefits. Finally, tofu on the grill, when pressed until firm, can be a great alternative to steak—especially when glazed with a sauce and complemented by tasty sides.
Making veggies the main event
Another way to make burgers meatless is by grilling up large portobello mushrooms. Season and marinate them, and top them with an array of fixings between the halves of bakery-fresh rolls. Beyond “hamburgers,” simply spread a delicious array of greens across the grill. “Choose lots of veggies, especially green ones like kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts,” advises Robin Rood, RD, LD, MEd, MA, and Teladoc dietitian.
From eggplant to zucchini to squash, vegetables pack a nutritional punch. Slice them long-ways and throw them right on top of the flame, or cube to thread through skewers or cook in a grill basket. Peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower and potatoes particularly work well as a grilled veggie platter or mixed into quinoa for a tasty grain and vegetable bowl. Stuff medium peppers like poblanos or Cubanelles with a Parmigiano-Reggiano and ricotta cheese mixture for a rich and gooey grilled meal. Instead of chopping up your cauliflower, slice it ¾-inch thick and grill it as a steak. Dip it into a spicy sauce or cover it with toppings like onions, tomatoes, cheese and chives for “loaded” skins. Cabbage also packs a punch when served like a steak, and it can easily take on the taste of your choice: buffalo, lemon/garlic or even Caprese-style.
Any vegetables you cook on the grill can last beyond dinner tonight for through-the-week meals. Grill onions, corn on the cob, heirloom tomatoes and fruits like peaches or pineapples to make a light, healthy baby spinach summer salad. “Include healthy oils like olive oil and nuts on top,” Rood adds. Using sauce and cheese, toss veggies on homemade or store-bought pizza crust and cook that on the grill.
There are seriously no limits to going meatless—on Monday or any other day of the week. Keep an open mind, eat with an adventurous spirit and get healthier while trying. Reach out to Teladoc so one of our registered dietitians can help you meal plan to meet your wellness goals. Meat-free BBQ and beyond—we’re here with personalized programs by phone or video, any day of the week.
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