Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Vegan Life - Picnics, Grilling, and the 4th of July

My Vegan Life - Celebrating the 4th of July
In the US, we're celebrating our country's independence this weekend. Many people enjoy picnics, backyard grilling, and a lot of good food on the 4th of July.

I remember my first picnic as a vegan. We weren't thinking creatively and lunch consisted of raw carrots, celery, and tomatoes.

Raw veggies are great but, lunch, that day, was far from exciting.

My Vegan Life - Celebrating the 4th of July

These days we've gotten much better at planning delicious meals for our outdoor enjoyment.

We prepare traditional picnic foods (minus the meat) and even include grilled items.

It just takes a bit of imagination ... and some great recipes.

Here are a few ideas:

For the vegan grill

My Vegan Life - Celebrating the 4th of July
  • Grilling vegetables brings out their natural sugars. Here's a Kabob recipe with an Indian flare.
  • Tofu is excellent on the grill. It can be marinated before cooking or simply sprinkled with your favorite seasoning. If you like a little zest and heat in your food, try this recipe for Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu. For more tofu grilling ideas, take a peek at 5 Tofu Recipes For The Grill (doesn't the BBQ'd tofu look delicious).
  • How about Cauliflower Steaks? Grilling gives these beauties a smokey flavor (the recipe calls for cooking in the oven but one can easily place a cooking sheet on the grill or simply place the "steaks" directly on the rack).
  • We recently featured JC's Grilled Portobello Burgers on Reduce Footprints. They'd make a perfect main course.
  • Want to make things easy? Consider buying veggie burgers/hotdogs and cook them on the grill.
  • Corn is arriving in our farmer's market. Try Elote (Mexican Grilled Corn).
  • Here's a truly special idea: Grilled Artichokes. Can I hear a "YUM"?

Vegan side dishes

My Vegan Life - Celebrating the 4th of July
  • What 4th of July feast would be complete without potato salad, which is usually made with mayonnaise and eggs. I found a great recipe for a Creamy Dill Potato Salad and another for a German Potato Salad, both vegan and full of flavor. Another idea is to simply dress a potato salad with an oil and vinegar salad dressing. The added benefit of these salads is that you won't have to worry about them spoiling in the summer heat.
  • Another "must have" BBQ side dish, baked beans, is traditionally made with a good amount of bacon. Here's a yummy Vegan Version.
  • Cole Slaw is a popular picnic side dish. This recipe for Creole Slaw makes my mouth water.
  • I've never quite understood why people bring a gelatin salad to a picnic. After awhile in the heat, the dish turns to liquid. How about making a "jello" salad with agar agar. This plant-based ingredient acts like gelatin and has nutritional benefits. And ... it doesn't melt in heat! Check out Fruity Soy Agar Agar for a beautiful, refreshing, layered salad.
  • Here's an easy idea! Arrange a bunch of beautiful, raw veggies around a container of hummus. Who doesn't like veggies and "dip".
  • My friend, Alaiyo, recently shared a recipe for a beautiful Veggie Pasta Salad. I think it would be the perfect side dish for an outdoor meal.
  • Need something to go with that veggie burger? How about Chile-Lime Sweet Potatoes? Oh yeah!!

Did someone say Vegan Desert?

My Vegan Life - Celebrating the 4th of July
  • Nature has provided us with a simple-to-prepare, delicious desert: fruit! Cut up a watermelon and indulge. Bite into a ripe peach and savor the delicious juices. Fruit is a perfect desert!
  • How many people LOVE homemade ice cream? Mmm ... there's nothing better than ice cream right out of the machine. And what kid (young or old) doesn't love licking the paddles. Here's a post with a bunch of dairy-free recipes: Homemade Vegan Ice Cream!.
  • Want a simpler way to make ice cream? My friend, Alicia, came up with a brilliant recipe in All Natural Strawberry Banana Ice Cream. Yummy and healthy!
  • Grilling fruit concentrates their flavor, making them a perfect picnic desert. Choose fruits that hold their shape, like apples, pineapple, nectarines, etc. Here' a "how to" post: Grilling Fruit. Now imagine topping the fruit with one of the above ice cream options. Are you drooling yet?
  • How about a very patriotic Cake?
  • Four words: Chocolate Fudge Brownie Recipe. Enough said!

My Vegan Life - Celebrating the 4th of July
There are endless possibilities for a vegan 4th of July picnic.

I hope that you and your family enjoy the day together, eating healthy, earth-friendly foods.