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September, 2011

Veggies Take the Cue

By Mark Mulcahy

Everyone loves to barbecue during these beautiful September evenings
.

And while meat is often on the menu, organic vegetables may be a smart choice worth considering. Chicken, beef, pork and fish may be favorites for many grilling parties, but when they are cooked over intense heat they can produce carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which have been linked to pancreatic, colorectal, stomach, lung, breast and bladder cancers.

Tofu

That’s where Melissa’s organic vegetables and vegetarian products like Soyrizo and Organic Tofu (Hawaiian Style) have an advantage. HCAs form when amino acids and creatine in meat interact with high heat. Since Organic vegetables like Portobello mushrooms, and soy-based burgers contain neither of these, they are a safe and tasty option for steaks, hot dogs and hamburgers. Another added bonus for grilled Melissa’s organic vegetables is that they are high in cancer-fighting compounds, and meatless burgers have much less saturated fat. If you are new to vegetable grilling, start with vegetable skewers. The options are endless: you can start with Melissa’s organic onions, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and cherry tomatoes, cut into equal-size chunks; a half-inch is a good start. Top with your favorite barbecue sauce or marinade and load some skewers. That grilled flavor you love on other foods will still tickle your taste buds and provide a healthier option. Once you’ve conquered skewers, try other veggies like corn, endive, fennel, leeks, potatoes, radicchio and even romaine lettuce. All are good on the grill. Each make a nice addition to any outdoor meal. Here’s an easy grilling recipe I adapted from one I found on http://allrecipes.com that uses a couple of Melissa’s Indian summer favorites for an interesting appetizer or wonderful hot sandwich.

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Goat Cheese

1 medium organic eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 large organic Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 (11 oz.) log goat cheese
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill for medium heat. In a large bowl, coat eggplant with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange half of the eggplant slices on a tray. Place a slice of tomato and a slice of goat cheese on each slice of eggplant. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tomatoes and cheese. Top with remaining slices of eggplant, and secure each bundle with a toothpick. Lightly oil the grill grate. Remove toothpicks, and arrange bundles on grate. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes, and then carefully flip. Continue cooking for 6 to 7 minutes. When they come off the grill, top with fresh basil leaves and voila, you are set. These would pair perfectly with grilled corn on the cob and grilled peaches for dessert. If you haven’t tried grilled peaches you are in for a treat as quick cooking on the grill intensifies their natural sweetness.

Peaches
Here are some easy tips:
• Start with peaches that are firm, they should give slightly when you give them a gentle squeeze with your whole hand. (While slightly firm peaches are best for grilling they are also best for eating in the later summer months as they become mushy when eaten too soft).
• Halve the peaches and pit them. Grill entire peach halves or cut them into wedges. Peeling the peaches isn’t necessary for the grill.
• Brush cut side(s) of the peaches with neutral-tasting oil, like grape seed or canola.
• Cook peaches over a medium fire on both sides until grill marks show and peaches are tender but not falling apart.
• Serve grilled peaches plain, in salads, or turn them into delicious desserts by serving grilled peaches with cool yogurt, whipped cream or with ice cream.