It’s hard to enjoy summer without grilling – but it’s easy to enjoy grilling without meat. In fact, going with veggies on the barbi, or grilling up veggie burgers, will let you enjoy all that delicious smoky flavor you you love without sabotaging your swimsuit diet.
Then there are the health benefits of meatless grilling. Hotdogs unfortunately fall into that ‘processed meat’ category and eating too much processed meat may actually shave years off your life. Also, grilling meat at high temperatures, especially when it’s charred, can release cancer-causing compounds. Meatless grilling lets you avoid all that.
One of the best parts of summer grilling is the endless creativity it makes possible. Almost anything can go on the grill, from pizza to pound cake, tofu to fruit slices. So kick-off the summer in style by moving your Meatless Monday out of the kitchen and onto the grill.
To help you with that, we asked a good friend of Meatless Monday, Karen Caplan, President & CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, to give us some tips about grilling fruits and vegetables. What follows are some smokin’ suggestions from her:
“Grilling brings out the flavors of fruits and vegetables like no other cooking method can. But not a lot of people use the grill for vegetables, let alone fruits! Here are some tricks and tips to make grilling fruits and vegetables a breeze.
Grilling brings out the flavors of fruits and vegetables like no other cooking method can. But not a lot of people use the grill for vegetables, let alone fruits! Here are some tricks and tips to make grilling fruits and vegetables a breeze.
Well-oiled grate: Vegetables and fruits tend to stick to the grate more because of the caramelizing sugars. Brush some oil on the grate or use a no-stick cooking spray before adding your produce to the grill.
Use metal cooling rack as your veggie grill: I learned this tip from one of Alton Brown’s videos, and it works like a charm. Vegetables tend to fall through the grill grate. By putting a smaller grate cooling rack on the grate, you can still get beautiful grill marks without sacrificing too many slices to the fire.
Aluminum foil is your best friend: Vegetable packets are easy to make, cook, and clean up. Add your favorite vegetables onto a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with some olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Fold up the packet and seal the edges well. Set the packets on the grill and let the vegetables steam themselves. You can do the same with fruits and sugar, and serve over vanilla ice cream.
Skewers can also be your friends: Wooden or metal, skewers make grilling fruits and vegetables easy AND fun! The key is to make sure all the pieces are about the same thickness so they cook evenly. Parboiled fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, shishito peppers, elephant garlic cloves, baby sunburst squash, and zucchini are all wonderful on skewers (it’s important to parboil them first, so they don’t dehydrate on the grill). Pineapple, watermelon, and other melon cubes are all delicious when lightly caramelized.
Try something unexpected: You can put more on the grill than onions, peppers, carrots, and zucchini! Did you know that you can grill leafy vegetables like Belgian endive, radicchio, baby bok choy, and even romaine lettuce? They actually get sweeter when a little charred. You can also grill fava beans in the pods and eat them whole, pods and all. Try avocado halves, grilled right in the skin. As for fruits, have you ever had grilled starfruit? Slice them thick and put them on skewers with other fruits for fun fruit kebabs!
Here’s an easy recipe by one of my favorite bloggers, Sharon Palmer, R.D., that’s become a favorite of mine…and it’s unexpected!”
Grilled Artichokes: Original recipe by Sharon Palmer, R.D.
2 large artichokes
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (or any herbs you like)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare artichokes by rinsing, then trimming 1 inch off tops and 1/2 inch off stems. Slice in half lengthwise. With metal spoon, scoop out blossom portion (the “choke”). Place artichokes in medium pot with water and cook 10 minutes, until almost tender. Drain, then place artichokes in baking dish. Whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over artichokes and allow to marinate about 30 minutes. Place artichokes cut side up on hot grill (or grill pan) for 2-3 minutes, then turn over and grill 5 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Ready to get cooking this Memorial Day? Why not explore the endless array of flavors that veggie burgers can bring? From wasabi spiced adzuki bean burgers to chickpea patties with pineapple sauce, the options are endless and we’re sure you’ll find something here to please a crowd. Keep in mind that veggie burgers require a bit more TLC than the traditional variety since their produce-packed nature can make direct grilling a challenge. Either bake them indoors or check out a grilling tool like this one suggested by Meatless Monday blogger Lauren of The Salty Tomato.
Hungry for more? Check out the Monday Burgers Cookbook for more of our favorite meatless burger recipes!
Chef Hermant Mathur is well known in New York for guiding high-end Indian restaurants to rave reviews and Michelin stars. GQ magazine recently referred to him as one of the tip five Indian chefs in America.
Now he’s taken on a new challenge: opening a series of mostly casual Indian restaurants that each focus on the cuisine of a different region of India. With a twinkle in his eye, he tells us that he wants Americans to know there’s much more to Indian food than just chicken tika masala.
Several of the restaurants are in the Murray Hill neighborhood, known as Curry Hill because of the predominance of Indian eateries. Chef Mathur is introducing Meatless Monday menus in two of them: Haldi and Chola.
Haldi celebrates the cuisine of Eastern India, specifically the city of Kolkata, formerly Calcutta. “From the palace to the street cart, a culinary tour of India’s cultural capital,” is how the menu describes it.
Chef Mathur explained that there are three communities who influence Kolkata cuisine, and Haldi’s menu includes dishes from each group: Jewish, Bengali, and Marwari, with the latter being the more vegetarian-focused of the three.
“There are a variety of vegetarian dishes on the menu,” said Chef Mathur, “and they’re flavored mostly with mustards. Many leafy vegetables, potatoes seasoned with poppy seeds. My favorite vegetable I’m making here is okra, julienned and fried so it’s similar to French Fries.”
While fish and shrimp are staples in this region Chef Mathur pointed out many ways to get plenty of protein from vegetarian dishes, with ingredients like lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, and the homemade cheese they feature at Haldi and Chola.
When asked about how to get Americans to eat and enjoy more vegetables, he said rather than just sautee them and adding salt & pepper we should use mustards, chutneys, and other ways to add more flavors. His Begun Bhaja (eggplant and tomato chutney) is an excellent example. “India is very famous for vegetarian food and if you haven’t eaten food from this Eastern region it is very tasty.”
Near Haldi are several other restaurants where Chef Mathur is at the helm and they each focus on a different region: Kokum features kerala cuisine; Dhabha serves Punjabi-style food; and Chote Nawab showcases Hyderabadi cuisine. Chola is his other restaurant that will feature a Meatless Monday menu, and it’s where North meets South. Vegetarian dishes are particularly popular in the south, which is also famous for its spices as well as coconuts and fish.
In addition to being an amazing chef, Mathur is also a delightful person who you can see takes great pleasure in introducing people to foods and flavors they haven’t tried before. In that way he’s a perfect match with Meatless Monday. If you’re in New York don’t miss the chance to sample his Meatless Monday menu at Haldi or Chola. For those who live too far away for that, he has graciously shared two of his recipes:
Indian cuisine is rich with vegetarian offerings, making Indian recipes a perfect option for Meatless Monday. This Monday, why not explore one of these 10 recipes from our bloggers and friends? Many of these recipes call for specialty ingredients, such as garam masala, curry leaves, ghee and chilis, so planning a vegetarian Indian meal also provides a great excuse to take a trip to an ethnic market in your city or town.
The historic Orme School is an international prep school set on 300 acres in rural Arizona and surrounded by a 32,000 acre cattle ranch. According to Patti Marrs, Director of Food Services, “we literally meet our meat on the road.” The school began Meatless Mondays this past January.
In many ways, joining Meatless Monday fits with the values set forth in their mission statement of creating a supportive and diverse community, and encouraging “inner resourcefulness, integrity, respect and accountability for self and others.’ In addition to rigorous classroom instruction (the student to teacher ratio is 3 to 1) they emphasize “hands-on learning and both environmental and aesthetic awareness.” Patti Marrs, graciously answered all of our questions via email. Here are some excerpts.
Q: Who Initiated Meatless Mondays at Orme?
I made the suggestion to our administration staff to go meatless on Mondays because it fits our program and mission to create a more sustainable school community and to protect our planet. We decided together to introduce the concept for the new year. We have an all school formal dinner 2 times a month and chose the first one in January to be meatless and “sold” the idea to our community that night.
Q: How do the students feel about it?
Reaction was mixed at first. Our students involved in sports were very worried about “protein” and where they were going to get it. Education was key in winning them over. Because we serve each student one at a time this type of information was passed at the serving line. All students have most definitely learned alternative sources of protein other than meat.
Q: How about faculty?
The faculty and staff can be tough nuts. Most for the skepticism came from that direction. These folks are much more set in their ways and are a bit more reluctant to try new things as well as experience different tastes. They ask a lot of questions as they pass through the serving line and most will end up with something new on their plate.
Q: Sometimes Meatless Monday inspires people to try new things. Has that been the case at your school?
Yes. We try to serve the most nutrient dense food possible. This means our population is served purple flesh potatoes, purple carrots, yellow flesh watermelon, blood oranges, quinoa, farro, and chia seeds to name a few. We are very lucky and are in a unique situation that allows us to be full circle. Our students start plants from seed, plant and maintain the school’s garden… prepare the harvest, compost the waste and return the composted matter to the soil. We have access to 100% grass beef (no finishing on grains) and a beautiful 3/4 acre state certified “Approved Source” vegetable garden, an orchard with 200 assorted fruit trees, and are in the planting stage of a new vineyard. We are in a mild climate surrounded by many small family farms that are supported by the Verde River that provide fresh produce to us as well. We are truly a “Garden to Table, Farm to Table, Orchard to Table, Ranch to Table” dining hall.
Q: So is Meatless Monday a success so far?
As an International boarding high school our kitchen (Founders Kitchen) serves 1,590 meals per week. I figure after being meatless for the past 17 Mondays, we have not eaten 680 pounds of chicken and 420 pounds of beef. So yes!
We thank Patti Marrs for her thoughtful answers, for sending lots of great photos, and for initiating Meatless Monday at Orme School. See more about Founders Kitchen on facebook.
Join us on Monday, May 11th at 8pm ET for a Twitter chat with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, author and photographer of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible!
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is NOT your average cookbook. The heart of the book is an A –Z guide of ingredients (Acai to Zucchini blossoms) and the produce, spices, herbs, and other seasonings that best pair with and enhance their flavors. Not sure what to do with those ramps you scored at the farmers market? Consult The Vegetarian Flavor Bible and you’ll learn that they go well with asparagus, peas, eggs, parsley and cheese. Sounds like the beginnings of a Meatless Monday Spring Frittata to us!
Monday’s Twitter chat is not only your chance to share your favorite vegetarian flavor pairings, but also to confess what stumps you in the kitchen and get some advice from the experts! Plus, two lucky participants will win copies of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.
To join the conversation, log on to Twitter at 8pm ET on Monday, May 11th. Follow @MeatlessMonday for the chat questions and use the hashtag #MeatlessMondayChat in all of your responses. Hope to see you there!
It’s true, Cinco de Mayo does not fall on a Monday this year. But if your May 4th Meatless Monday leaves you so inspired that you want to continue it into Tuesday, we have several delicious suggestions for meatless Mexican dishes.
Cinco de Mayo is also known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. For those who like their Meatless Mondays with a side of history, here’s the backstory: on May 5, 1862, the outmanned Mexican army defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla. Though the French would capture Mexico City one year later and take control of the country for several years, the Battle of Puebla, and the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that began cropping up almost immediately in Puebla and in American towns, became a celebration of Mexican unity and patriotism.
A good argument can be made that Cinco de Mayo is essentially an American holiday that honors Mexican culture and heritage. From the time of our own Civil War and until the 1980s, Cinco de Mayo was a relatively low key celebration marked primarily in cities with large Mexican-American populations, such as Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. But in recent decades–especially as food and beverage marketers have increased their Cinco de Mayo budgets–the day has grown exponentially in popularity, including weekend long celebrations in cities such as Denver and Phoenix. Here at Meatless Monday, we mark the day by embracing and sharing Mexico’s rich culinary traditions.
If you think about it, Mexico has been meatless for centuries. The foundation of native Mesoamerican food dating back thousands of years includes corn, beans and a range of chili peppers. These ancient–and meatless–items remain Mexican staples. Corn, for millenia, has remained the basic starch of Mexico. The strong, essential flavors of chili peppers define all Mexican cooking, and can take a epicurean up and down the Scoville scale. With generous helpings of indigenous beans, vegetables and flavors such as tomatoes, squash, avocados, cocoa and vanilla, plus regional foods like bananas, guava, mangoes, pears and pineapple, and you have all the ingredients for a colorful Mexican meal.
Below are six mouthwatering meatless recipes that can be part of your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Corn & Black Bean Burritos; 2 ways to make Tostadas with vegetables; a Huevos Rancheros recipe that’s a spin on the classic Mexican breakfast; a green salad with fruits and
sunflower seeds; and Chimichurri Quinoa Stuffed Artichokes.
A frozen margarita is not a Mexican drink. And if you think Mexicans love to shove slices of lime into their beer, think again. Likewise, when it comes to Mexican food, our popular American conceptions bear little resemblance to the actual Mexican diet. That was certainly the conclusion of Dos Caminos Chef Ivy Stark who recently traveled south of the border for inspiration.
“I want to dispel the myth that melted cheese and sour cream are authentic Mexican food,” she said.
You don’t find nachos with beef and cheese whiz, or giant burritos filled with meat and cheese. What you do find is cuisine that’s rich in vegetables and sauces made with roasted vegetables, spices and sometimes nuts.
Following her trip, Chef Stark created a new ‘Healthy Mexican’ menu for Dos Caminos, with dishes like Spring Vegetales Tacos, Grilled Mexican Street Corn and a grapefruit, jicama and watercress salad.
Chef Stark worked with nutrition and sustainability consultants SPE, who offer third-party certification to foodservice establishments who are committed to nutrition, sustainability, and their customers’ well-being. Like Meatless Monday, SPE encourage more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and smaller portions of red meat, as well as limiting processed foods.
The inspiration for SPE came from the Latin phrase Sanitas Per Escam, which literally means “Health Through Food.” Their holistic approach focuses on sourcing (selecting ingredients seasonally, locally and sustainably) preparing (using specific cooking techniques that preserve the integrity and nutritional qualities of the ingredients) and maximizing the nutritional impact through balanced menus and optimal ingredient combinations.
For example, SPE recommended Chef Stark not put proteins on the grill since charring can cause carcinogens to form, but they were fine with her grilling vegetables like corn and asparagus.
Said Chef Stark, “Grilling is also a really good technique, especially if you’re looking to not use any fat. It’s really delcious for corn, squash – everything tastes good on the grill because you get that smokiness against the sweetness of the vegetables. And it’s easy!”
Dos Caminos and SPE have generously provided one of the recipes from the certified Healthy Mexican menu, which you can access here. Happy Authentic Cinco de Mayo!
You often hear that people would eat healthier if it was cheaper and easier – if healthy food was as accessible as fast food. Two years ago, author and columnist for the NY Times, Mark Bittman, wrote an article titled, “Yes, Healthful Fast Food is Possible. But Edible?” He profiled several budding restaurant chains who were looking to close that gap between fast food and healthy (even vegan) food produced with sustainability in mind.
It appears two years later that there’s progress if not yet perfection.
One chain Bittman focused on was Veggie Grill. Greg Dollarhyde, the CEO (Chief Energizing Officer in his parlance) recently described what the typical consumer wants.
“Make it better for me, but I don’t want to give anything up. I want less salt, no antibiotics, no trans-fats, more fruits, more veggies. I don’t go out to restaurants to give stuff up; I go to restaurants to be tantalized.”
The Santa Monica fast-casual restaurant chain, which serves exclusively plant-based food, was launched in 2006 and has grown to 28 restaurants on the West Coast. They purposely avoid labels like ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian.’ In their manifesto they say about their diners,
“We see you with eyes wide open. As one of us. Not as a diet, but as a person, as someone seeking out the vegetable. We think of you as veggie positive.”
Veggie Grill says that their biggest growth has been among typical meat-eating consumers and semi-vegetarians who are looking to eat more whole grains and fresh vegetables.
The founders of Sweetgreen were still in college when they opened their first restaurant, in past because they just wanted a healthy place to eat. They’re popular ‘build a bowl’ concept has spawned locations in six states as well as eleven stores in the District of Columbia. There are vegan options but also bowls featuring chicken and salmon, bowls full of green leafy vegetables and also full of grains like organic while rice and quinoa.
Sweetgreen core values emphasize ‘authentic food,’ thinking sustainably, and connecting with people through food – helping you live the sweet life. To that end they’ve held music festivals with healthy food and 20,000 fans They want to make eating healthy easy, fun, and approachable. Long lines can undermine the ‘fast’ food concept, but they may not think that’s a terrible problem to have.
Bittman also looked at Lyfe Kitchen, saying, “Lyfe has the pedigree, menu, financing, plan and ambition to take on the major chains. The company is trying to build 250 locations in the next five years and QSR has already wondered whether it will become the “Whole Foods of fast food.”
‘Lyfe’ has begun in six California cities as well as Chicago, New York, Boulder, and Dallas, so they certainly seem on their way to fulfill their mission of bringing delicious, healthy and socially responsible dining options to people across the country. When they tell their ‘Lyfe story’ on their site, they emphasize that there is something for everyone from carnivores to vegans, and that every dish has fewer than 600 calories. They strive for organic whenever possible, locally-sourced produce and responsibly raised meats.
According to data from Technomic, sales at healthy fast-casual chains totaled about $384 million in 2014, up almost 30 percent from 2013. The National Restaurant Association does an Industry Forecast every year and for 2015 the top five menu trends they cited for Tableservice restaurants include: Locally grown produce; Environmental Sustainability; Healthful kids’ meals; and Natural ingredients/minimally processed food.
Hudson Riehle of the National Restaurant Association’s research and knowledge group said that consumers, “want to be able to follow their personal preferences and philosophies no matter where or how they choose to dine. So, it’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015.”
In a recent article titled, “Vegetables take center plate as fast food chains expand,” AP reporter Kelli Kennedy asked, “The chains might be prospering, but is the Meatless Monday crowd strong enough to give these healthy chains staying power on a national scale?”
Harry Balzer, of the Chicago-based consumer research firm NPD Group, believes, “It will be harder for them to become McDonald’s. I don’t think it will be harder for them to survive.”
All have gained popularity on the coasts, but are far from being accepted nationally. There are also many operational challenges. Sustainability takes time and effort, and serving fresh unprocessed foods and organic ingredients is expensive and more difficult than deep frying or microwaving frozen food.
One thing is certain – those practicing Meatless Monday have more and more options, and the demand their creating is making more possible than ever before.
As part of Earth Week, Access Hollywood Live co-hosts Kit Hoover and Billy Bush invited Chef Ayinde Howell, founder and publisher of the award-winning iEatGrass.com. to show how he creates delicious meatless versions of traditional meals for Meatless Monday.
Chef Ayinde began by cooking up a traditional meatloaf using tofu, with lentils added for texture, and oats to bind it together, plus onions, dijon mustard catsup, and a few other ingredients for flavor. One smart tip he suggested was shaping them into mini-meatloafs to make them more attractive to kids. Billy Bush, a self-proclaimed ‘heavy carnivore’ decided to be the guinea pig and took the first taste. He gave the meatloaf top marks, as did Kit Hoover. You can see the recipe here.
Chef Ayinde said the simple recipe would be about 40% less expensive than if you used beef. While the savings are significant, the focus of the segment was how Meatless Monday benefits the planet, and Billy Bush shared an important statistic:
Over a year, if your four-person family skips meat once a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for five weeks.
Chef Ayinde, who is from Los Angeles and is living through the terrible drought there also reminded viewers that going meatless one day a week is a little known way to save thousands of gallons of water, given that it takes over 1800 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef.
In addition to the meatloaf he also whipped together another traditional favorite, chicken pot pie, using seitan , a wheat protein.
Just last year Chef Ayinde co-authored a cookbook with Zoe Eisenberg with the provocative title, The Lusty Vegan. It features 80 recipes as well as tips on how to create vegan meals that even meat-eaters will love. That’s the ‘vegan’ part.
The ‘lusty’ part is light, witty advice on navigating the challenges of vegans dating non-vegans. Both authors are vegans who have dated omnivores and they have plenty of experience to share. How often can you get delicious recipes and dating advice in one book? Be sure to check it out. And watch the Access Hollywood Live segment here.