Did you think that your BBQ days were behind you when you started eating whole food plant-based (WFPB)? Think again, my friend. There are many offerings from the plant world that can keep you grilling all summer long if that’s your thing. Read on to get some grilling inspiration.
Any meat cooked at high temperatures (including on a BBQ) will produce heterocyclic amines, which are a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). While that meat is grilling away, the fat drips down to the coals and forms a smoke containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, another known carcinogen. Yikes!
Thankfully, you can grill more than just meat. So, dust off your BBQ and let’s get grilling.
If you love the little spears that make your pee smell like a swamp, try tossing them on the grill. Just be sure to grill them crossways or use a BBQ tray. This will help you keep your sanity intact because these little green sticks will absolutely sacrifice themselves to the bottom of your grill if you aren’t careful.
This might sound crazy, but you can (carefully) grill avocado. Slice down the middle and remove the pit, then grill face down for a few. They are great on burrito bowls or turn them into smoky guacamole.
Who doesn’t love a vegetable that makes you think you’re bleeding internally? The dark red pigment of beets has a way of turning our bathroom by-products a little red, but they are packed with all sorts of good nutrients. You may have already tried them roasted, why not grilled. Cut them into slices and grill them up for a colourful and nutritious side.
How about broccoli’s taller cousin? Broccolini is nice on the grill. It makes a great side or grilled topping for a salad or bowl. Just season it and grill crossways so you don’t lose them between the slats. Or you could use a BBQ tray or vegetable basket to avoid that risk.
If you like roasted brussels sprouts, you’ll love them grilled. Slice in half and give them a little time on the grill. A little balsamic glaze is wonderful on these little sprouts.
These babies also work well on the grill, but you may choose to skewer them first due to their smaller size. Marinate them or brush with your favourite sauce for mouth-watering flavour.
Similar to cauliflower steaks, but made from their cruciferous cousin, the cabbage. Make thick slices and move them carefully so they don’t come apart, but these are great on the grill with some seasoning or a nice sauce.
I know, I know, this sounds a little crazy. But stop and think about it for a moment. What’s the texture of a cooked carrot? Very similar to a hot dog, right? Peel and marinate your carrots overnight, pre-boil for a few and then finish them up on the grill. All the flavour of a hot dog without the risk of colon cancer. Win!
Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? Not only does it help fight cancer, but it can be used in so many ways in the kitchen. I’m in awe of this amazing vegetable. You can grill these up in a couple of different ways. Slice them up and grill some cauliflower steaks, or cut up the florets, toss them in your favourite sauce and make some cauliflower hot wings. Yum!
Is it even summer if you haven’t had some corn on the cob? I think not. Corn on the cob is a total summer classic. So, husk it, wrap it up and get it on the grill. Try serving it up with a squeeze of lime and your favourite seasonings.
Grilled eggplant is a new kind of delicious. Slice up your eggplant, marinate, season or sauce it and pop it on the grill. Be gentle when you turn it over though, it can get delicate as it cooks.
Try popping those fresh green beans on the grill the summer. Definitely, use a BBQ tray, vegetable basket or a foil packet for these if you don’t want to lose half of them through the slats though.
These are more of a combo of other foods on this list, but I just couldn’t write a BBQ post without talking about kabobs. They are definitely a favourite of mine. Combine some of your favourites, either marinate, season them or slather with your favourite sauce and pop them on the grill. You can include things like peppers, tofu, mushrooms, onions, cauliflower and more. Get creative and colourful with your kabobs.
Onions are more of a supporting player than some of the other heavyweights on this list. But don’t leave these bad boys behind. They’re best sliced into rounds for the grill, or use a BBQ tray to be sure you don’t lose them to the coals.
Another summer classic is the baked potato. Scrub these really well and cook them on the BBQ. If you’re eating plant-based, starch is a big part of keeping you full, so why not have your spuds grilled this summer. If you want to take your potatoes up a notch, you can use your BBQ’d spuds to make this reader-favourite recipe for herb & garlic twice-baked potatoes.
I love grilled peppers, they are one of my favourites. The easiest way is to remove the stem and seeds and then cut into large chunks. Grill them up and don’t worry about the char. It will slip off really easily once you are done, leaving you with delicious smoky peppers. If you’re using smaller peppers, you might want to grill those whole.
Portobello caps are amazing grilled. Clean them, place them in your favourite marinade and then grill them to perfection. They make an amazing replacement for burger patties, or you can then slice them up to use in fajitas, tacos, wraps or a number of other dishes.
If you’re a fan of the wedge salad, try grilling your romaine wedge. It adds a nice smoky flavour to a classic summer salad. A quick and easy way to take your salad up a notch.
Yep, you can absolutely grill your acorn squash (or any squash, really) on the grill. Just clean out the seeds and slice into rings. Then give them a little grill mark love. Alternatively, you can grill the halves and fill the well in the middle with something delicious, like a nice rice pilaf, quinoa salad or my quick and easy couscous salad.
A slight variation on the typical BBQ’d potatoes, but sweet potatoes are also great on the grill. Packed with nutrients, these tasty spuds have become one of my favourites. Look for a white-fleshed variety if you want a milder flavour.
Tempeh is tofu’s firmer cousin. It also cooks up fast so you’ll what to keep an eye on him. If you slice it into strips consider using a BBQ tray so you don’t lose half of it between the slats.
Yeah, I went there. I know there are people out there who hate tofu, but I really don’t understand why. Think of tofu as a blank slate, press out the excess moisture, flavour it well and it will be amazing. If you’ve ever skipped these steps, that’s likely why you hate tofu. Stick to firm or extra firm for grilling purposes and either marinate or sauce it. Or both for off the charts flavour.
If you eat plant-based, you’re probably well acquainted with these. The perfect replacement when you’ve got a hankering for a burger. Homemade options are typically tastier (and healthier). Just be sure they are firmly packed and maintaining their shape well so they won’t fall apart on the grill.
Similar to eggplant, this comes out really well. Slice it, season it and toss it on the grill. You’ll be glad you did. These are fabulous on a panini with some other grilled veggies and a slather of flavourful hummus. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging on dessert, did you? Check out these fruits that are amazing on the grill.
Who doesn’t love warm apples? They get tender and sweet when heated. Great with a little cinnamon, date caramel and granola sprinkled on top. Have them a la mode with some banana nice cream. Just blend up some frozen bananas for this delicious and healthy take on ice cream.
If you’ve ever had bananas foster, you’ll love these bad boys grilled. Slice them down the middle, lengthwise, so you have two long pieces per banana. Or, grill them in their skins and then peel when ready to serve. Drizzle a little date caramel over them when they are done and enjoy. Don’t choose bananas that are over-ripe though, as they’ll just fall apart. Aim for ripe but still somewhat firm.
Slice up some peaches and try them grilled this summer. They are great on their own or use them to top your banana nice cream. Or you can half them, remove the pit and grill them this way. That leaves you with a nice little well for your nice cream or any other delicious filling you dream up.
Just like apples, pears are delectable sweet and soft when heated. Slice or half them and grill until tender. Yum yum!
Warm pineapples are one of my favourites. Something magic happens when you apply a little heat. Slice them into rings, sprinkle with cinnamon and give them a couple of minutes on each side. They come out tender and oh so sweet. Perfection!
Watermelon is a popular fruit to grill. Just slice into wedges and give them a couple of minutes per side. Then remove and enjoy. Watch them carefully though, they go from perfect to overdone in no time.
The Bottom Line
Just because you decide to pass on meat, doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with your grill this summer. All it takes is a little creativity. Don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines and try something new. If I’ve missed any of your favs, feel free to add them in the comments section below.
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Feature image credit: Photo by Hari Nandakumar on Unsplash