Five Great Burger Substitutes for the Summer Grill
From shish kebabs to baby back ribs, there is no doubt that meats loom large in the summer barbeque line-up. However, current research seems to suggest that meats--and red meats in particular--may cause significant health issues ranging from increased weight gain and heart and cardiovascular diseases to decreased immunity and even certain forms of cancer. Luckily there are a wide variety of modern meatless products and natural veggie-based options that make for excellent outdoor grilling--whether you like tangy barbeque, sour-sweet teriyaki, or a just a classic-style burger dressed with ketchup, mustard and mayo.
Portabella Mushroom Caps
With their firm, meaty texture and naturally smoky flavor portabellas shine on the summer stage. Each full-sized portabella cap can be marinated, rubbed, or slathered in your favorite barbeque sauce and grilled up as easily as a burger--and these mushrooms taste amazing paired with havarti, gouda, or pepper jack. For a full vegan grill, try making a simple dill aioli using silken tofu or consider a nice vinegary homemade relish.
Grilled Eggplant Patties
Even those who are not partial to this odd vegetable may be pleasantly surprised by the rich flavor brought out when eggplant is properly grilled. As with portabellas, eggplant can be grilled simply, or dressed up with a marinade or sauce. Be sure to salt and rinse eggplant before grilling, in order to get rid of any bitter flavor. Eggplant is naturally porous, so it can easily soak up the rich flavors of Asian-inspired marinades--delicious topped simply with some grilled pineapple.
In addition to giving you a full dose of heart-healthy proteins, black bean veggie burgers bring a welcome change of pace to the back yard barbecue. Perfect for super-quick grilling, these bean-based burgers are superb when dressed up with Tex-Mex toppings like sliced avocado, cheddar or jack cheese, salsa, sour cream, or grilled veggies.
Meatless Beef-Style Burgers
Recent years have seen an explosion of meatless products that are getting better and better at filling in for true beef burgers. Made from ultra-refined soy proteins, meatless burgers provide plenty of protein without the extra saturated fats and potential cancer-causing compounds found in red meat patties. Unlike black bean and other veggie burgers, these soy-based burgers are meant to approximate the texture and flavor of meat--so feel free to serve them with all your favorite classic burger fixings.
Extra-Firm Tofu Steaks
Like eggplant, extra-firm tofu makes an excellent marinated grill item. Highly porous, tofu will soak up anything flavor combination you can think of. Before marinating make sure to thoroughly squeeze and drain tofu blocks so that there is plenty of room for marinade ingredients to soak in. In addition to simple sweet and sour soy-sauce marinades, you might want to consider a savory pesto or balsamic-based marinade--paired with fresh mozzarella and ripe red tomatoes.
Meat-Free Menus Made Easy
With vegetarianism and veganism on the rise, plant-based foods are gaining huge popularity--even among those who still eat meat fairly regularly. The wide variety of unique produce products and meatless meats available in today's grocery isles makes it easy to please everyone on the guest list--without compromising on flavor or flair.