Meat Alternatives for the Grill

It is time to roll out your grill and start cooking! Whether you live in the southern hemisphere and are enjoying spring beginning, or you are in the northern hemisphere and getting reading for tailgating season (aka autumn) then it is great weather to grill in.

If you are transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle going to or even hosting a BBQ may seem a bit of a challenging feat. But not to worry! You can be social while still sticking with your lifestyle choices. 

Here I have listed out my favourite non-meat foods that work great on the grill. Enjoy!

Capsicum. These peppers are very low in on both the caloric scale, as well as the glycaemic index. The rainbow of colour these vegetables provide will spruce up any BBQ banquet spread. Their high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, like carotenoids and flavonoids will give your immune system a boost. Capsicums are notorious for losing some of their phytonutrients when cooked on a high heat so try grilling on a low heat, and for a very short period of time. I recommend placing these bad boys on the grill just after you turned it on, as it is still getting heated up.

Corn. Although corn may seem a pretty ordinary food, it has unique health benefits. The digestive benefits of corn are incredible. Corn’s insoluble fibre aids the growth of good bacteria in our large intestines. These bacteria convert the corn into short chain fatty acids which in turn provide energy to the cells of the large intestines.  Keeping the cells of the large intestines healthy is important in promoting regular bowel movements and preventing gastrointestinal disorders and diseases. I recommend leaving the corn in the husk while you grill. To flavour the corn, once you have husked it, take a sliced lime, dip both sides in paprika or powdered chilli, then slide the lime along the corn as you gently squeeze. This will distribute the flavours nicely over the cob.

Asparagus. This spring time specialty is high in vitamin K. Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is essential in blood clotting. It is now believed that the correct levels of vitamin K are necessary in the body in order to allow vitamin D to do its job in building strong bones. Asparagus has a higher respiration rate than other vegetables, which means it will lose water and wrinkle quicker than the broccoli and lettuce you keep next to asparagus in the fridge. Try wrapping the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper towel during storage and try to eat within 2 days of purchasing. Asparagus is lovely with a light oil coating and a quick grill on all sides.

Peaches. To me, this is a warm weather staple food. This great fruit provides you with minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc with every sweet, sticky bite. Grilled peaches will be a hit dessert to round out an excellent BBQ. Make sure to choose very fragrant peaches that yields slightly to the touch but isn’t mushy. Slice your fruit in half and remove the pit. If you like, you can brush the entire fruit in a light coating of butter. Grill each side for 4 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Tempeh. This traditional soy product is different from its soy brother, tofu, in many respects. Tempeh is created by fermenting cooked soybeans, so the entire bean including its protein, fibre, antioxidants and more remain. The result a texture that is firmer and chewier than tofu. Tempeh is a great replacement for a burger. Although I love a good lentil burger at a BBQ, I am often plagued by creating lentil patties that don’t stick together completely. Tempeh is a great alternative. Slice your tempeh into long, flat, rectangular pieces. Brush on any sauce or marinade you like and set on the grill. 


*First published in The Australia Times-Health