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With the last summer holiday right around the corner, barbecue—the original slow-cook farm food—is starting to resemble a political convention. Some voters like burgers, others go for hotdogs. And then there’s that obscure third party (or fourth) that’s been waiting a long time in the wings (no pun intended!) to finally have its day in the spotlight!

So, this Labor Day, in honor of Meatless Monday, why not throw a “Green” party and give fruits and vegetables a chance on your grill?

When it comes to turning your grill green, you have a smorgasbord of issues to choose from. You’ve probably heard that gorging on meat filled with hormones and antibiotics is not good for your health. Or, that you can save a lot of carbon emissions by going meatless at least one day a week. Then there are the land sustainability and the water security issues. Throwing a barbecued fruit-and-veggie party is not only fun and inventive; it could change the course of a lot of people’s lives.

But what you may not realize is that greening your grill sacrifices no flavor at all. In fact, the sweet, smoky notes that barbecuing brings out in fruits and vegetables will speak for themselves—once you get the hang of green grilling.

Here are some tips to grilling and fun and easy grilled vegetable recipes.

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Tips to help get you started:

Go firm, go fresh. When it comes to grilling, shop the freshest fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. The firmer the vegetable, the less it will crumble when grilled.

Court the usual suspects. Traditional candidates for the grill are peppers, carrots, beets, turnips, zucchini, corn, green beans, asparagus, tomato (firm ones), onion, eggplant, garlic (whole cloves), potato, squash, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips. For fruits, consider peaches, apples, pineapple, and figs.

But also try the unusual. Avocado, artichoke, romaine lettuce, portobello mushroom, and watermelon are just some of the new grillees that are becoming trendy.

Oil down first. Many vegetables need just a light brushing of olive oil before grilling. For extra kick, add spices and marinate overnight.

Arrange the perfect meatless match-up. Kabobs are a BBQ staple, but you can make them entirely with veggies: think tofu cubes mixed with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted potatoes or just about any other vegetable that strikes your fancy.

Support guilt-free burgers. Make your own veggie burgers packed with hearty ingredients like black beans, lentils, quinoa, or chickpeas. You can also find healthy pre-made patties at supermarkets and natural food stores.

Make a burger trade. Swap a meat pattie for a portobello mushroom or eggplant slices. Use your same bun and add your favorite toppings, like avocados, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, or an olive spread.

Smoke out your pizzas. Turn up the creativity and make delicious veggie pizzas right on the grill. All you need is pizza dough, sauce, and your favorite vegetables thinly sliced or pre-grilled. For dessert, consider a fruit pizza with grilled peaches drizzled with vanilla icing.

Cross party lines. Dressing your grilled veggies in taco form will garner you a lot of new fans. Be prepared to make extras.

Keep up the cubes. Tofu can be bland so enlist your favorite marinade recipe to add flavor. Grill the cubes up and add them to a salad, serve them with veggies, or enjoy them as appetizer served with a dip.

Give your salads a good grilling. Garnish grilled romaine lettuce with a bit of fruit, feta cheese, and extra virgin olive oil, or simply drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Enlist your favorite sides. When planning a meatless BBQ, pasta salads, raw vegetables, and hummus dip are great ways to turn your plant-based dishes into a full meal.

However you grill up your Labor Day, you’ll find a lot more helpful tips and information at Meatless Monday—the why’s and the how-to’s to further support your health and the health of the planet. The truth is, what we put in our mouths does make a difference. And when we work together, both individually and collectively, it definitely becomes a labor worth doing!


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