6 Plant-Based Meat Alternatives for Your Next Summer BBQ
By Kimberly Holland
Summer brings many opportunities to light a grill and cook up a bounty of juicy meats, corn on the cob and potatoes for a backyard barbecue.
But as more Americans are embracing a plant-based way of eating, traditional BBQ foods are shifting.
In fact, a survey from Nielsen found that more than one-third — 39 percent — of Americans say they are actively trying to eat more plant-based foods.
"We know that eating more plant-based [food] is good for us and also the environment," says Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in the New York City area. "Tofu, lentils, Impossible Burgers are all great alternatives to meat that are tasty and not just brown rice and steamed vegetables. Also, more plants means more fiber, which is good for your gut health and helps with feeling full."
So, if you're one of those people who are trying to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet — or you're cooking for someone who is — let this list of plant-based foods inspire your next summer BBQ menu.
1. Fake Meat Burgers
A number of plant-based patties are available at your local grocery store.
You don't have to fuss with making your own meat-free burger mixture. Many brands have mastered the best texture and flavor for spectacular sandwiches, and you can buy them frozen or fresh right at your grocery store.
"With burgers, there are amazing options, from those that mimic a classic beef patty, such as Beyond Meat's widely available Beyond Burger, to legume-based burgers such as the classic — and crowd-pleasing — Spicy Black Bean burger from Morningstar Farms," says Ann Taylor Pittman, recipe developer and author of Everyday Whole Grains: 175 New Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice.
Just be aware that some of these burgers have more sodium than traditional beef patties. With fixings like cheese and condiments, you could really whip up a salt storm. Cut back on high-sodium toppings, and opt for a low-sodium side like slaw or corn salad instead of fries.
2. Veggie Hot Dogs
Meatless hot dogs and veggie substitutes can be a tasty twist on this BBQ tradition.
In addition to plant-based fake meat options, roasted carrots look a great deal like hot dogs, and if they're cooked right, they can taste and feel like one, too.
"A roasted carrot spiced with cumin is excellent in a whole-wheat hot dog bun topped with well-seasoned cabbage," says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian and founder of Maya Feller Nutrition.
Low and slow is the key to the carrot-turned-hot dog. This temperature setting for roasting allows the veggie to become tender and toothsome, and it infuses the vegetable with any spices or rubs you've applied.
Carrots are low-calorie, so you might feel a bit is lacking from your meal if you only eat one. You can help your satiety by eating a spoonful of a hearty grain salad in place of potato chips.
3. Tofu Steak
Tofu steaks can be prepared in a number of appetizing ways.
With proper handling, tofu tastes and cooks a lot like chicken or pork.
"Extra-firm tofu grills really well," Feller says. "I like to marinate it in ginger, garlic, and coconut aminos with a dash of red pepper flakes."
If presenting tofu steaks in place of regular ones won't fly, get a bit more creative.
"You can go a little unexpected by grilling slabs of extra-firm tofu and building your menu around tofu banh mi, with a build-your-own sandwich bar with all the fixings — pickled carrots and radishes, sliced jalapeños, cilantro, hoisin sauce, mayo," Pittman says.
4. Vegetable Fritters
Veggie fritters are a great year-round alternative to meat and fish patties.
You may think of potato fritters as winter fare, when they're often topped with sour cream or apple sauce and eaten as part of a holiday celebration.
But really the small, round veggie pancakes are great as a year-round alternative to meat and fish patties.
Feller likes potato and broccoli fritters. Pan-fried in a bit of oil, fritters can seem rich, so balance them with a topping of fresh tomato salsa. Or dress them up with a no-cook sauce like chimichurri or pesto.
5. Pulled ‘Pork’ Jackfruit Sandwiches
Tasty jackfruit sandwiches can satisfy even the biggest meat lovers.
Jackfruit has made a name for itself in vegan and vegetarian circles as a dense and chewy meat alternative that's so good it frequently convinces carnivores they are eating the real thing.
"You can make a wonderfully messy pulled jackfruit sandwich instead of the usual pulled pork. Upton's Naturals makes a tasty, not-too-sweet version that's great on a soft bun with a scoop of coleslaw," Pittman says. The fleshy interior of the Southeast Asian fruit handles a bit like meat.
Marinate it with barbecue sauce and sauté it on a skillet on the grill for a fast meat-free option.
Like some other plant alternatives, jackfruit can have a great deal of sodium. Cut back with low- and no-sodium sauces to keep the numbers manageable.
6. A Veggie Platter
A veggie platter is a colorful and healthy addition to any summer BBQ menu.
Of course, you don't have to try to hide the fact you're eating veggies in place of meat. You can own it and really put on a show-stopping presentation.
"Flip the script by doing something a little unexpected: a grilled veggie and hummus platter as the centerpiece of your barbecue. Grill bell pepper strips, zucchini and yellow squash slices, asparagus spears, blanched Brussels sprouts, baby artichokes, broccoli spears, blanched carrots, fennel wedges, or any other veggies that would go well with hummus," Pittman says.
Plus, the presentation is destined to be so beautiful, everyone will be proud to show off their non-traditional BBQ spread on social media.
It’s All About Options
f these options don't sound like they may be for everyone and you're hosting a backyard barbecue that will include a mix of guests — those who eat meat and those who prefer plant-based alternatives — don't feel the need to have an entire menu for both.
Remember, all you need is a few options that you can pull together with your traditional menu in order to make sure everyone at the get-together is well-fed.
"Don't make a big deal out of it; just have meatless burgers and dogs alongside the traditional versions," Pitman says. "There might be meat-eaters who are excited to try some of the plant-based options, too."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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