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Feature Article Fire Up the Grill—Without Meat

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By Holly Weare, diabetes patient educator, Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital

As the weather improves, it’s time to pull out the barbecue again!

Traditionally, when Americans talk about barbecues, they think of hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks. However, grilling outdoors is not limited to meat. There are numerous ways to incorporate healthy plant-based options without animal products.

Plant-based entrées or sides on the grill are a healthier alternative that will keep you wanting more. Whole foods and plant-based foods are naturally low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The most obvious choice for switching to something vegetarian is a veggie burger. While Gardenburgers are delicious, there are a variety of other healthy, plant-based options that will excite your taste buds. However, if a burger is what sounds good, try making your own veggie burger from scratch. If you make your own veggie burgers, they will have a lot less salt and you can add the spices you like best.

Two other burger-like options are grilled portabella mushrooms or grilled tofu. These both have a meaty texture that can be marinated in a number of sauces to provide extra flavor. You might choose a BBQ sauce for the tofu or a balsamic vinaigrette for the mushrooms.

Another barbecue favorite is building your own kabobs. Simply cut up your favorite veggies, fruit or tofu into one-inch cubes. Place the vegetables on the skewer and grill! This is a fun way for everyone to mix things up and customize their own meal.

What about pizza? Pizza tastes great when it’s grilled! You can either place it directly on the grill or use a pizza stone. By making a veggie pizza, you are also eliminating a lot of fat. Want to take it a step further? Try pizza without cheese.

Then, of course, there are vegetables.  Roasted corn on the cob and baked potatoes are traditional choices but are not the only vegetables you can cook on the grill. You can barbecue almost any fruit or vegetable in foil or a barbecue basket. After all, why not keep the kitchen clean and make an entire meal on the grill?

For more information on a plant-based diet, attend Discover the Plant-Based Diet on July 19 at Samaritan Albany General Hospital from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Try out Grilled Peaches, great for camping or a BBQ dessert!