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Summer Entertaining: Healthy Cookout

Reboot your grilling routine with these easy, plant-based recipes from local blogger Laura Krudener.

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Now that summer is officially upon us, I plan on spending the warm weekend evenings hosting casual cookouts for family and friends. But while most barbecues involve burgers, steaks, and hot dogs, my typical spread looks a little different. My husband and I are gluten-free and many of our friends are vegetarian, so I’m always cooking up creative and healthful twists on grilling classics.

I created this summer barbecue menu with dietary restrictions (and deliciousness!) in mind. I serve hearty quinoa-mushroom-beet burgers and honey goat cheese with a creamy broccoli slaw, herbed veggie kabobs hot-off-the-grill, and a refreshing peach and mint sangria. This meal is free of gluten, corn, meat, and nuts. (If you omit the goat cheese on the burgers and use vegan sour cream in the slaw, it can also be dairy free.) Best of all, even with our hectic summer schedules, these recipes are easy to pull off. Both the slaw and sangria can be made at least a day in advance to cut down on prep time.

For more healthy recipes (as well as fashion tips, wellness advice, and more) visit my blog, Among the Colors.


Quinoa Mushroom Beet Burgers with Honey Goat Cheese

This burger was inspired by the Cherry Creek Grill’s veggie burger. I wanted to create a gluten-free version of the their dish, so I opted to form these nutritious patties out of mushrooms, sweet potatoes, beets, and quinoa. I serve the burgers on gluten-free buns, but they can also be served on lettuce cups for a lower carb meal.

Serves 4

For the burgers:

1 small shallot

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 of a mashed sweet potato

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

3/4 cup shredded raw beets

1 can black beans, drained

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

Preheat oven to 350°. Prick sweet potato with a fork and place in oven with a piece of aluminum foil underneath. Cook for 45 minutes and remove from heat and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, mash half of the sweet potato and reserve the other half for another use. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add shallot and chopped mushrooms to pan and sauté for 5 minutes with the spices and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, combine the cooled mushroom-shallot mixture with the quinoa. Add in the drained black beans and mashed sweet potato and mash well. Mix in the beets. Divide mixture into 4 portions and form into patties. Place on lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour. Bake in oven at 350° for 30 minutes until crispy, or grill for 5 minutes on each side.

For the honey goat cheese:

2 ounces goat cheese

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon (or more) water

Whip all ingredients together with a fork until creamy, adding more water to reach desired consistency.

Garnish the burgers with lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, and honey goat cheese. Pickles optional. Serve on gluten-free buns or lettuce cups.

Creamy Broccoli Slaw

This make-ahead broccoli slaw is my favorite go-to side for summer. Plus, it’s a different way to get your dose of greens.

Serves 4

2 cups broccoli, finely chopped

1 cup napa cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded

1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

juice of half a lemon

3 tablespoons sour cream

3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, cider vinegar, lemon juice, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the broccoli and cabbage and mix into the dressing. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Note: Slaw can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Grilled Squash & Mushroom Kabobs

Serve 4 to 6

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, halved

1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

5 tablespoons mixed fresh garden herbs, chopped (any combination of tarragon, oregano, basil and parsley)

2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste

wooden or metal skewers

Heat grill to medium-high heat. If you have wooden skewers, presoak them for 30 minutes in water. Combine all of the vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Add herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Assemble kabobs by mixing different vegetables together. Brush both sides of kabobs with olive oil before placing on grill. Grill with the lid down 5 minutes a side until nice and charred. Serve on a platter.

Peach & Mint Sangría

I love making this refreshing sangría when local peaches are in season. I include fresh mint from my garden in this summery, low-alcohol cocktail.

Makes 1 pitcher

half a lemon, sliced into rounds

half a lime, sliced into rounds

1/2 cup of fresh mint

1/2 a pear, sliced with skin on

1 white peach, sliced with skin on

1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc

1 cup of ginger beer

Pull the mint leaves off the stems and place in a pitcher. Add in lemon, limes, pear, and peaches. Pour in the bottle of wine and the ginger beer. Serve over ice. Sangría can be made one day in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to serve.

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