Summer is here! This is a time where we get together and share a drink and food with those closest to us for some annual fun in the sun. There is no doubt that as the warmer summer months begin to creep in, we tend to uncover our grills and head outdoors to cook our meals. Burgers, chicken and many other animal-based products used to make their way to the grill at my house before we transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle. But how do we continue the awesome feeling of sun-soaked, good ol’ fashioned fun and camaraderie by the grill without animal-based proteins?
The words “meat alternative” just doesn’t sound appetizing to me. In fact, when they first came out over a decade or more ago, many of the companies sold them using those words. While that might speak directly to someone who is vegetarian or vegan, it might not work for someone who wants to give it a try or is open to trying something different from their usual meat burgers. Today, it has become easier than ever to try delicious, plant-based proteins that taste great to everyone. There are four brands that we specifically use frequently and urge you to give them a shot as you shop for your plant-powered grilling this summer. Maybe you have vegetarian or vegan guests coming over and you want to include them in your food preparation, or maybe you want to give one of them a try yourself to see what all the fuss is about. Whatever you decide, I hope you will choose at least one of these meatless options, and let us know what you think by sending us a note or comment on Facebook.
Our Top Four Meatless Protein Options Available At Whole Foods Market:
1. Engine 2 Burgers
If you have read our blog before or visited our Facebook page, you know that we absolutely love Engine 2 Brand products. Found in the frozen section exclusively at your local Whole Foods Market, you can find a variety of different burgers that include no oil, sugar or anything fake. Our favorite burgers include the Poblano Black Bean Burger and the Tuscan Kale White Bean Burger. These products contain no processed ingredients whatsoever and are created from only whole food, plant-based materials. If you are looking to maintain your weight, have a healthy heart and continue having the amazing benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle, this burger is for you. When grilling, make sure you don’t over-do it as they tend to be a bit dry. Also due to the nature of them being so clean, you will want to scoop it up with a spatula and put it right onto your bun so it doesn’t fall apart. Keep your plant-based, organic condiments close by and dress it like you would any other burger. You will be the healthiest person at the party!
2. Hilary’s Adzuki Bean Burger
When I first transitioned to a plant-based diet, this was the first burger that I came across. If you like a crunch to your burger, this one is for you. I am also a huge fan of the spice cumin, which is one of the yummy ingredients of this burger. Hilary’s is organic, non-GMO and completely free of corn, dairy, egg, soy, gluten or nuts. This product does contain coconut oil, so if you are watching your fat intake, you might want to go with the Engine 2 Brand above, but I really like the crunchy aspect of this burger and the spice combination is wonderful.
Health Watch – Hilary’s Adzuki Bean Burger contains coconut oil. Although their coconut oil is non-GMO, all oils are high in saturated fat and are calorically dense and should be limited or eliminated to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
3. Gardein Crispy Chick’n Sliders
You know that fast food restaurant that sells the chicken sandwiches? The one that has the cows saying you should eat more chicken? We have all been there at least once in the past but we know it’s not great for you. Before our transition to a plant-based diet, we went every now and then, but there are very few substitutes out there for their chicken sandwich…until now. Why would you eat their chicken sandwich when Gardein has come up with an alternative that is ten times better for you and tastes almost exactly the same?! Gardein does not sell their product by comparing it like I have, but the taste is wonderful and my kids love the chick’n sliders. They are small, bite-sized meals that really hit the spot. Put them on the grill for just 3-5 minutes and you will be ready to dress them up or eat them plain. They are a win for sure.
Health Watch – There is non-GMO soy in this Gardein product. Although soy is derived from soybeans, more than 3-5 servings per day can can have a negative effect on insulin-like growth factor (IGF) levels in the body. Make sure to monitor how many soy-based products you are eating per week in your meal planning!
Health Watch – Gardein’s Crispy Chick’n Sliders contain canola oil. Although their canola oil is non-GMO, all oils are high in saturated fat and are calorically dense and should be limited or eliminated to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
4. Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips
In a world of countless plant-based proteins, Beyond Meat has really come out swinging. I have tried one or two of their products, but it is not one of my go-to’s just yet. But I must mention them here because many of my friends love it. If you are looking to truly mimic the taste and texture of animal protein, then this is the option for you. It does have a soy aftertaste, but many of my vegan friends think it is amazing. You be the judge! The grilled strips definitely look like the real thing and have a great texture, so if that is important to you, give them a try. They offer many other products, including the Beast Burger, which packs a whopping 23 grams of plant-based protein.
Health Watch – There is non-GMO soy in this Beyond Meat product. Although soy is derived from soybeans, more than 3-5 servings per day can can have a negative effect on insulin-like growth factor (IGF) levels in the body. Make sure to monitor how many soy-based products you are eating per week in your meal planning!
Health Watch – Beyond Meat’s Products contain canola oil. Although their canola oil is non-GMO, all oils are high in saturated fat and are calorically dense and should be limited or eliminated to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
How To Grill Meatless Burgers and Proteins
Grilling plant-based proteins is easier than you think. Really, all you need is heat. Typically these meatless options come frozen and consist of beans, soy or other forms of vegan protein. There is low to no risk for e coli or salmonella or many of the other bacteria that can come along with animal-based proteins, so as long as you heat them through for a few minutes, you should be golden. Just make sure it’s cooked through…nobody likes an icy cold center in their sandwich!
Be sure to section off a separate part of the grill for your plant-based burgers. This will ensure there are no meat-tasting oils or residue on your vegan protein. Dress it like you would any normal burger or chicken sandwich and enjoy!