Summer is in full swing, and that means spending more time cooking under the sun and stars. While it's hard not to salivate at the very thought of a perfectly grilled steak or salmon fillet, you should know that meat and fish aren't the only reasons to fire up the barbecue. There are also many vegetarian foods that can rock your grill, and not being so meat-centric can help you net a greater diversity of must-have nutrients.

Not sure where to start? Try these physique-minded recipes featuring some of the best meat-free proteins.

1. Pesto Halloumi Kebabs

Also known as "grilling cheese," halloumi is a squeaky cheese from Cyprus with a high melting point that makes it a great grilling option. On the outside, you get those great grill lines and crispy crust, while the inside turns into velvety goodness. Just a single ounce of halloumi has about 6 grams of protein, which is comparable to several types of meat, including chicken breast. Cook it like we suggest here, or slice it lengthwise into two big slabs and grill it like you would a steak.

For quick weeknight meals, these pesto kebabs can be assembled a day ahead and chilled. Instead of halloumi, you can also use cubes of paneer, a style of pressed cottage cheese common in India that is also a protein heavyweight. To keep wooden skewers from scorching, soak them in water for about an hour before use.


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2. BLT Salad

This interpretation of the iconic BLT sandwich features tempeh for a nutritional upgrade. Made from fermented whole soybeans pressed into a cake, tempeh performs admirably when slapped on the grill grates. A 4-ounce serving delivers 20 grams of plant protein (more than twice what you'd get from tofu), making it a viable meat alternative for the grill.

This marinade not only converts tempeh into a stellar "fakin' bacon" but will also help it caramelize on the grill. Eating salad has never been more exciting.

BLT Salad

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3. Lentil Burgers With Mashed Avocado

If you've tried those poor little frozen meatless patties before, you may think there's no hope for "veggie burgers." But these veggie burgers are infused with layers of great flavor, including tangy goat cheese, so you won't be left wondering, "Where's the beef?" Full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, lentils are a nutritional treasure trove. And if you want to skip some starchy carbs, ditch the bun. This recipe requires a food processor, by the way.


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About the Author

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MSc., is a registered dietitian based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He works full-time as a freelance nutrition writer...

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