5 Tips for Eating Vegetarian at a BBQ

September 5, 2011 · 1 comment

This is a guest post by Trina Cleary.

One of the most relaxing ways to get together with friends and family is to gather at a park or in the backyard and share some great food over the BBQ. But when you are vegan, vegetarian or even just trying to cut down on your meat consumption, the idea of processed hot dogs and bloody, grease-dripping hamburgers can put a damper on the whole experience.

Don’t be discouraged! There are many ways to eat healthfully at a BBQ.

Make sure to bring extra of what you plan on cooking, because before you know it, even your most carnivorous friends will probably be drooling over these delicious vegetarian options!

Stuffed Veggies

Take any vegetable that has a firm shell (e.g. red or green peppers, or scoop out the insides of a halved round zucchini), and fill with a pre-cooked mixture of brown rice, garbanzos or lentils for protein, onion and garlic, shredded carrots for color and any other chopped veggie that you like. Top with cheese if you please, or a liberal amount of olive oil for a vegan option. Place on the grill until they are heated through. Finish off with fresh cilantro, parsley, basil, or chives, and enjoy!

Feel free to play with the recipe by substituting quinoa or couscous for the rice, or any other legume in place of garbanzos or lentils. Try a Cuban black bean and rice version, and top with spicy salsa. Once cooked, these stuffed veggies also make great leftovers for the following days, either cold or reheated.


Sandwiches may not be the first thing that you think of throwing on the grill, but why not? Think of it as a more gourmet version of the grilled cheese sandwiches you may have enjoyed so much as a kid.

Take any sliced whole wheat bread, and brush the outsides with extra virgin olive oil. Fill the insides with anything you like, such as a caprese option filled with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella, or a more Middle Eastern option filled with hummus, eggplant, and peppers. Grill until both sides are browned and the insides are heated through, and enjoy!


Who says kabobs have to be made of meat? The list of fruits and veggies you can skewer is endless!

Great veggie kabob options are mushrooms, peppers (make sure to take advantage of all of the colors available, such as yellow, orange, purple and green for a visually enticing kabob), zucchini, cherry tomatoes, beet, cauliflower and carrot. Fruits that skewer well are pineapple, blueberry and strawberry.

Make sure to pair foods that will take roughly the same amount of time to cook. For example, thick-skinned peppers will take much more time to cook than a plump blueberry, so they should not be on the same skewer. In the end, either serve up individual kabobs, or take everything off the skewer and serve mixed up in bowls over rice, lettuce or other greens.

Alternative Burgers

Just because everyone else is eating a burger doesn’t mean that you can’t too. An easy burger-like option is to grill large portabella mushrooms that have been marinated in olive oil, red wine, balsamic vinegar or soy sauce, and a little black pepper and sea salt. Grill up and serve on a hamburger bun just like you would any other burger.

Another option is to make homemade veggie hamburgers. Mix cooked brown rice, lentils, finely chopped veggies, lots of garlic and onion, and add in a little egg and enough bread crumbs to start to make sticky patties. Grill as you would any other hamburger.

It is also a good idea to make a lot of these up ahead of time at home. Fry them in a little olive oil, put the cooked patties in the freezer, and anytime you are invited to a BBQ you can just grab a few and they only need to be reheated on the grill.

Stir Fry

Many camping stores sell small woks that you can place right over a campfire or on a grill, and with this option you can make your favorite stir fry no matter where you are.

If you do not have a wok, that’s fine. Get a large piece of aluminum foil, and place any veggies, herbs, and spices that you want on the foil. Drizzle liberally in oil so that they do not dry out, enclose the mixture tightly in aluminum foil and throw on the grill. When you hear the oil start to bubble, give it a few minutes, and when the veggies are cooked you can sprinkle with lemon, soy sauce, or any other sauces.

Hopefully you can see that being vegetarian does not have to stop you from enjoying a BBQ. Once you start showing your carnivorous friends the many mouth watering and healthy options that are out there, you may be surprised to see them cooking your recipes next time instead of hot dogs and hamburgers!

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{ 1 comment }

Diane@ NYC Personal Trainer September 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm

And for the stirfry you can add in those Miracle Noodles. No calories. No carbs. But alot of fiber and volume to keep you completely satisfied. Yum. Yum…

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