Plant-Based Alternatives for Summer Grilling

It’s summer grilling season, and traditionally that means hamburgers and hot dogs. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend shifting away from animal proteins and increasing plant-based proteins for a healthier diet. But what do you do when many meals are cooked on the backyard grill?  There are a few options.

Plant-based “burgers” are readily available in grocery stores locally. One popular brand (Beyond Meat®) uses pea proteins, rice protein, potato starch and beet juice in their plant-based products including burgers and sausage. They are soy and gluten free.  

A newer product (Impossible Burger®) has been rolled out in restaurants as an alternative to beef and turkey burgers. Many national burger chains will be carrying Impossible Burger by the end of the year, and soon it also will be available in grocery stores. Impossible Burger, although it resembles and has a similar texture to ground beef, is actually soy and potato protein. It is combined with coconut and sunflower oils, a bulking agent and soy root heme, which gives it a beef flavor. Heme is an iron-containing compound present in both animals and plants. Some people do experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms after eating soy-based protein products such as nausea, cramping and diarrhea.

These products are more expensive than ground beef, but they are an alternative for people who want plant-based options for their burgers.

Not quite ready for burgers made of plant proteins? Turkey, salmon, veggie, black bean and mushroom burgers provide a few more non-beef options.

Registered dietitian Barb Walsh is the community nutrition educator in the Tevis Center for Wellness

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