How Can You Grill Plant-Based Foods?

Just because you eat a plant-based diet it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy grilled foods. Sharon Palmer answers your top questions on how to grill vegan foods the healthy, delicious way.

It’s so fun to grill your meals. You can power up on flavor, as well as fresh air, sunshine, and fellowship while you’re cooking and entertaining your friends and family. However, a lot of people are stumped when they think about grilling plant-based foods, because so much of our grilling culture surrounds cooking meats on the grill. So, that’s why I’m answering your top questions on how to grill plant-based foods.

Herbed Grilled Vegetables

Question: How can I enjoy grilling while on a plant-based diet? 

Answer:

Grilling can go way beyond hot dogs and burgers! You can grill a number of healthful accompaniments to a delicious meal, primarily vegetables and even fruits. Grilling allows for that wonderful process of caramelization to occur, which encourages those delicious flavors to come out. You can experiment with types of vegetables (my favorite include summer squash, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, okra, and corn) and fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, melons), and marinades (fresh herb, lemon, olive oil, Moroccan or Indian spices, garlic, ginger, soy sauce) that introduce even more flavor. This can be an easy, delicious, nutritious way to fit in more health-protective plant foods into your diet. Plus, grilling goes hand in hand with what is seasonal and available in the summer months.

Studies consistently show that increasing plant foods and decreasing animal foods can reduce your risk of chronic diseases. That’s because this eating style means you are fitting in more plant foods—beans, lentils, soy foods (tofu, tempeh), whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits, which are filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and phytochemicals. So, it’s a healthy idea to throw a plant-based alternative on the grill, such as tofu, veggie burgers, and tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soy and grain product. When you cook fermented foods you generally destroy the live bacteria present in foods, however, there may be benefits to fermentation that goes beyond live bacteria—fermentation may alter compounds in foods and make the foods and nutrients more digestible.

You can even grill leafy greens, like kale and chicory. Research shows that dark green leafy vegetables have benefits, including for brain health. This could be related to the fact that green leafy vegetables are extremely rich in a variety of essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin A, C, E, and K, fiber, and carotenoids antioxidants. Green leafy vegetable are so important, that you should try to fit them in your diet at least a few times per week. Learn how to grill vegetables using a grill basket here.

In addition, beta carotene from yellow-orange foods (not supplements) is a precursor for vitamin A, and it’s important for healthy skin, eyes, and other body functions. It is an antioxidant, and may reduce the risk of diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and age-related macular degeneration.

So, don’t be afraid to fire up your plant-based grill this summer! Try some of my favorite plant-based grill recipes below.

Eat and Live Well,

Sharon

Try these recipes that are perfect on the grill:

Edamame Ancient Grain Burgers (shown above)
Roasted Chicory with Pistachios and Pomegranates
Grilled Peaches with Basil
Sesame Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Spicy Sesame Tofu

Check out the other nutrition questions I’m answering at The Plant-Powered Dietitian:

How to Prepare Dried Beans to Avoid Antinutrients
How Can I Choose Sustainable Foods?
Does Roasting Veggies Ruin Nutrients?
Is “Clean Eating” a Healthy Lifestyle?

Main image: Chimichurri Skewers from Plant-Powered for Life, Sharon Palmer, RDN

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