“Grilling means good times, good friends, and hopefully, great food.”
~Bobby Flay, celebrity chef, restaurateur
Summer is officially in full swing.
And while the sunny season reminds us of many things, it is undoubtedly THE season for the delicious tradition of outdoor cooking—grilling!
Bobby Flay is right.
Grilling is all about good times, good friends and great food, which is why we are here to celebrate the fact that July is National Grilling Month.
Together, let’s explore the wonderful tradition of grilling—with a whole food, plant-based twist!
What Exactly Is Grilling?
Grilling is a centuries-old custom and one of the most primitive forms of food preparation.
It dates back to the advent of cooking, as far as 2 million years ago.
At its most rudimentary, grilling was about putting food on a stick and roasting it over an open fire.
Before people sautéed or broiled or braised, everyone grilled.
Even though the terms ‘grilling’ and ‘barbecuing’ are used interchangeably, they are actually two different cooking methods.
Grilling means to cook your food ‘fast and hot’ directly over the fire; on the other hand, barbecuing uses a ‘low and slow’ method over indirect heat.
Firing up the Grill? Think Veggies!
While grilling is frequently associated with meat, it is actually one of the best ways to prepare vegetables.
Nothing could be simpler or more delicious.
Plus there are infinite health benefits of a ‘veggie grill’ versus a ‘meat grill.’
Grilled vegetables do not produce any detectable levels of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), the cancer-promoting compounds often present in grilled meats. Also, veggies are packed with cancer-fighting phytonutrients and fiber while remaining low in fat and having ZERO cholesterol.
So when you are deciding on the perfect healthful choice for your cookout, just grab some veggies and start grilling!
Fun Facts About Grilling
Here are 5 fun facts about grilling and barbecuing:
- Grilling Is (Very) Popular: 75 percent of US adults own a grill. Most say they love to grill because it makes food taste better (71 percent), it is fun (54 percent) and it is a great way to entertain guests (42 percent).
- Corn Is the Favorite Grilled Veggie: The most popular grilled vegetable is corn, followed by potatoes and other assorted vegetables.
- 4th of July Is the Biggest Grilling Day: 76 percent of Americans light up the grill on July 4th, with Memorial Day and Labor Day vying neck and neck for second position (62 percent).
- Grilling Happens All Year: 63 percent of Americans grill year round, and 43 percent use their grill at least once per month throughout the winter.
- Grilling Is a Family Tradition: 60 percent of grillers apparently have learned the skill from their father, uncle or brother.
And Some Helpful Tips!
Here are some great tips for grilling that you should keep in mind:
- Be Organized: It is always a good idea to have everything on hand before you start to grill.
- Make Sure You Have Enough Fuel: Running out of fuel in the middle of grilling is annoying and can spoil the fun! Double check that you have enough fuel before you begin.
- Preheat the Grill to the Right Temperature: Grilling is a high-heat cooking method. To get that seared crust and great flavor, you must cook at a temperature of at least 500°F. If using indirect heat, preheat the grill to 350°F.
- Keep Things Clean: Each time you grill, clean the grate twice—once after you have preheated the grill and again after you have finished cooking. You can use the edge of a metal spatula to scrape off large bits of food and a stiff wire brush to finish scrubbing the grate.
- It Is All in the Sauce: For added flavor, create plant-based bastes and marinades to brush on your veggies both before and during the grilling.
- Stay Attentive: Grilling is simple, but it does require constant attention. Once you have placed the food on the grill, stay put and monitor your meal.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for Grilled Portobello Mushrooms that will have you running to your grill all summer long.
And if you want even more grilled veggie inspiration, download our complimentary Plant-Based Summer Cookout recipe book, which has 20+ recipes including beverages, salads, sides, entrees, and desserts.
Take advantage of your grill this year and discover another way to delight in beautiful seasonal veggies!
Happy National Grilling Month to all!