Its almost June… Cue the Barbecue!

Summer is so close we can basically taste it and it tastes like… BARBECUE!  The smoky aromas of the charcoal and blooming flowers paired with the warm air makes for an unbeatable lunch, dinner or even breakfast!  Nothing kicks off the summer quite like getting friends and family together and serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies, tofu and everything in between!  The term “barbecue” might feel uninviting to vegans and vegetarians because of the overwhelming stereotype of barbecues being a strictly carnivore only zone. Maybe you’re contemplating skipping out on the company barbecue this summer because you don’t want to throw off your healthy eating.  Not to fear herbivores, barbecue season is truly for everyone! Barbecue food isn’t just for meat eaters or people who aren’t health conscious, there are so many ways to enjoy the sweet serenity of a summer barbecue while accommodating specific diets and eating healthily. Whether you’re hosting or attending a barbecue this summer, we’ve got you covered on how to make sure all your guests are happy. 

About 1.8 million years ago, there was a human ancestor named Homo Erectus who began cooking meat with fire about, discovering how much tastier, easier to digest, cooking food rather than eating it raw can be for the body.  This is the first record history has of the concept of using cooking food, rather than eating raw nuts, seeds and berries. In fact, humans are the only species of living things that live by and depend on the concept of cooking their food.  No other species has the element of fire as a necessary part of their food preparation. You know what they say, some like it hot!

In 1526, a Spanish explorer and Christopher Columbus found themselves hungry while exploring the West Indies.  They came across the Caribbean Indian tribe Taino, who cooked their food low and slow on raised wood with a big flame underneath, they called this concept “barbacoa”.   Infatuated by the concept, this explorer took what they had learned on the islands and spread his knowledge of this outstanding innovation to anyone that would listen. Eventually in 1540, near present-day Mississippi, the “Chickasaw tribe, in the presence of explorer Hernando de Soto, cooked a feast of pork over the barbacoa. Eventually, the technique made its way to the colonies, traveling as far north as Virginia.”(Geiling).  Communities saw this method of cooking as a sufficient way to feed a large number of people as well as an excuse to bring people together, a win, win in our book!

The concept of barbecue as we know it today came to be very similar to the way America became “the melting pot”, taking different ideas from a wide spread of cultures and communities and turning it into something everyone can enjoy.  While the Chickasaw tribe first presented the idea, British colonists added the concept of marinating the meat in sauce to savor the juices and flavors of the meat-thus the concept of barbecue sauce. Southern colonies that were made up of German and French immigrants are the ones responsible for pork being the billboard face of barbecue since pigs so low maintenance to raise.  Cows, on the other hand, take a lot of work and resources, so they strictly stuck to pork, one of the reasons why pulled parked is such a signature southern dish.

Today, barbecue is a gastronomical emblem of American culture, giving baseball and maybe even Apple pie a run for its money, probably because barbecue has a surprising amount of patriotic history dating back to the founding fathers.  After America had won the Revolutionary War, the victory was commemorated with barbecues. George Washington’s diaries also presents evidence that he was a big-time barbecuer himself, he even hosted a barbecue that lasted 3 days long, now that’s dedication!  But barbecues don’t have to be like the way they were in George Washington’s day anymore. Today, there’s more to a barbecue than just pulled pork. From meatless grill options to deliciously refreshing side dishes, anyone with a restricted diet, allergies, or who might just be a picky eater can enjoy a good barbecue.  We’re getting rid of the stigma behind barbecue foods being an unhealthy indulgence for meat eaters only because there are so many ways to pack nutrients, vitamins and minerals and of course lots of flavor into a barbecue dish!

Let’s start with the most important part-the grill!  The grilled food is usually the star of the barbecue for obvious reasons.   But for vegetarians or vegans, the sight of a grill might have them reaching for that granola bar they keep in their bag when there are no meat-free options.  While buying meat alternatives like veggie burgers and veggie dogs is always a quick easy fix, it’s always good to bring food back to its simplest purest form.  

Try marinating and grilling

-Eggplants

-Cauliflower steaks

-Red Peppers

-Portobello Mushrooms

-Tofu

-Seitan

-Broccoli Steaks

These foods are hearty just like meat and are super versatile so you can season and marinate them just the way you like!  If those foods aren’t getting you in the grilling mood try making vegetable kabobs! This is a great way to clean out your fridge and use all your veggies before they go bad.

No get together is ever complete without side dishes, because let’s be honest, sometimes the side dishes are the best part of the meal!  Here are some great allergen and special diet safe side dishes that are sure to be crowd pleasers

-Cauliflower “potato” salad

Grilled Corn Salad

VeganTzatziki Sauce

-Superfood Coleslaw

-Grilled Rollingreens Millet Tots

-Grilled Pineapple

Hosting is hard enough already, so why not make things easier and make side dishes that you know everyone will enjoy!  

So, what are you waiting for?!  You don’t need a reason to have a barbecue, getting loved ones together around lots of good food is definitely reason enough for us!  Happy grilling to all!

CITATIONS

Geiling, N. (2013, July 18). The Evolution of American Barbecue. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-evolution-of-american-barbecue-13770775/