Brightening up the Vegan BBQ

15 02 2011

A BBQ is a great social occasion and a good way of drawing friends and family together, and there’s no reason to feel left out of the traditional summer BBQs if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. You certainly don’t have to restrict yourself to veggie burgers, either!

Choosing to buy organic and locally-produced fruit and vegetables should ensure you get the very best for your BBQ and will supply you with fresher fruit and vegetables and help support local farmers. If you’re lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market or a farm shop, you should be able to pick up fantastically fresh, tasty, and good value seasonal fruit and vegetables.

And what better way to make the most of the best your area has to offer than with a BBQ and a wide variety of salads? Grilling seals in the flavours of the vegetables and it’s a healthy and fun way of cooking. You can experiment with marinades, fresh herbs, and vegetables you might not have otherwise tried. It’s also a great way to encourage the pickier members of the family to eat more vegetables!

The Usual Suspects

Mushrooms are a must for vegetable kebabs! Image Credit: Dinostock

The humble vegetable kebab can be brightened up with a marinade. Simply mix olive oil with a little lemon juice, then add fresh herbs, chilli, or crushed garlic. Soy sauce or balsamic vinegar are nice additions, too, or try harissa (a chilli paste from Tunisia) for warmth. Flavourful oils, such as walnut or avocado, are great drizzled over a green salad as an accompaniment. If you’re using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them overnight to minimise the risk of splinters.

For extra flavour, you could try skewering vegetables on stripped sprigs of rosemary. Good vegetables for grilling include sweet pepper, aubergine, courgette, tomato, mushroom, red onion, asparagus, sweetcorn, and sweet potato. Be aware that some vegetables, such as aubergines and mushrooms, tend to soak up a lot of flavour, so it’s best to limit the marinade time of these to avoid overpowering the natural flavour.

Your Vegan Platter

Make plenty of salads to fit the season, pasta, green leaves, and maybe some leaf and fruits, and the absolute essential, potato salad (with vegan mayonnaise and dill) – and provide plenty of rolls and dips (such as hummus, good quality olive oil, guacamole, tapenades, and whatever else might go well with crudités and bread). Supply some wine and perhaps a non-alcoholic punch or juice.

The Main Event

Grilled red peppers. Image credit: Food Factory

Find a few large portobello mushrooms and brush them liberally with some good quality olive oil or margarine, and some torn herbs or fresh crushed garlic. Alternatively, spread a little pesto, or olive or tomato tapenade over them before grilling. Or you can make your own garlic ‘butter’ with roasted garlic and margarine – simply spread this lightly over the mushrooms as they cook, adding more as necessary. The mushrooms should be grilled gills uppermost, and can be served in warmed buns with rings of red onion and some fresh organic salad leaves.*

New potatoes should be skewered and given a liberal brushing of olive oil with herbs (rosemary really shines here) before grilling, or you could bake a potato or sweet potato in foil in the smouldering coals for a side dish.

Stuff sweet peppers or large, par-boiled onions with a cooked grain and your favourite mixture of cooked vegetables (try Mediterranean vegetables with basil and pine nuts) and grill until soft.

For the best sweetcorn, peel back the husks, remove the silk, then rub the corn with margarine and tie the husks back over the corn. Cook the corn around the outside of the grill for about 20 minutes. To cook it quicker, try soaking it in cold water for thirty minutes beforehand, or blanch it in hot water.

Tofu well deserves its place on the vegan BBQ, too. Choose a good, firm, organic brand, and marinade it well (overnight is best, and add soy sauce to the marinade for a salty, savoury taste) before grilling. It’s great threaded onto skewers with vegetables.**

Don’t Forget Dessert

As the perfect finish for your meal, try wrapping bananas or plantains (choose plantains with black skin to get the sweetest) in foil, or cook them directly in their skins.

You can also thread fruit onto skewers and grill it – pineapple, peaches, pear, and apple all work well, and you can sprinkle these with a little mixed spice or brush them with agave nectar (a vegan substitute for honey).

Some fruits, such as peach, nectarine, or apple, can simply be sliced in half, grilled, and served with a scoop of vegan ice cream or sorbet for a simple dessert.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could try putting some stoned, ripe cherries in a foil pouch on the grill and serve them over vanilla vegan ice cream.

So there is every reason to fire up the barbecue, cast iron chiminea, or fire pit this year. As long as you have the time for a little preparation, and as long as you can source the best fruit and vegetables, you’ll be able to get the family and friends around a barbecue and enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal alfresco.

And it’s well worth considering signing up to a local veg-box scheme or creating a vegetable plot in your own garden. You need surprisingly little space, and you can have as much fun growing your food as you can cooking and eating it!


Laura Phillips is a vegan – and has been for several years! – and outdoor living enthusiast, and writes for

This post has been syndicated by Nathan Brown, the gardening jobs recruiter for Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and provider of Eco Advertising.


* – another site with lots of BBQ ideas.

** – an informative article with loads of good ideas for tofu.


The Green Teen Cookbook, by Aurora Metro Arts & Media

11 02 2011

The Green Teen CookbookThe Green Teen Cookbook will be a cook book designed by teenagers, for teenagers, and including teenager’s recipes. Our goal is to gather information about ethical food, and answer questions such as “Where can I get good local products that don’t cost the earth in terms of air miles?”, “Where can I get fair trade goods?”, “Where does my food come from?”

The book will also give teens advice on how to cook healthy recipes that are both simple and impressive, but cheap enough for those on a budget!

The Green Teen Cookbook will be ethical, healthy and fun but we also want it to be a collective project; that’s why we are looking for teenagers to get involved and send us their recipes. So if you’re between 13 and 18 (or a little older and you just feel like you have the soul of a teenager!), please send us your favourite recipe. For you, it could be an amazing opportunity to get published. For us, it would be a chance to create a cook book that could change the way young people look at food.

We are already working with several organisations such as Jamie Oliver’s The Fifteen Foundation, Acornhouse Restaurant, Heatham House Café and Kneller Café, as well as various schools, colleges, youth groups in and around London… All we need now is a little help from those among you who like to cook!

You can send your recipes to:

For more information see the Aurora Metro website:

Or phone 0203 261 000

New Year Recipes For Vitality

14 01 2011

As 2011 begins, discover how to nourish the glow of beautiful skin, the radiance of clear eyes and expand your energy levels and fitness this year.

Begin the year by feeding your health with pure and natural dishes.  Delight your palate with delicious cooking that’s healthy too.

Can you really enjoy both yummy and healthy meals?

Anna Freedman, a qualified Macrobiotic Cook and Wholefood Coach from Wholefood Harmony, is passionate about inspiring health through delicious, natural cuisine. She believes in whole, unprocessed foods for their powerful benefits to health and mitigation against disease.

Wholefood Harmony offer cooking workshops, coaching sessions and personal cook services  to share the wisdom of natural food diets, rich in whole grains, pulses and local, seasonal vegetables with no fat, sugar or added preservatives.

Anna says that ‘the influence of season and the balance of pure ingredients, dishes and cooking styles are central to the art of our menu design.  I love creating menus made up of dishes and flavours that harmonise together beautifully bestowing pleasure, vitality and wellness on those enjoying our meals.”

Wholefood Harmony are running a ‘Healthy New Year’ Cooking Workshop series beginning 20th January.  Here you can learn to create dishes that delight your appetite and expand your health.  The series will allow you to discover how to integrate pure foods into busy schedules and make a healthy start on enjoying feeding your vitality this year.

The workshops include themed wholefood teaching, hands on cooking and they conclude with enjoyment of a full, three course meal comprising over seven different dishes.  Sessions are £40 each and take place close to Golders Green, North West London.


For more information please visit  You can contact Anna on 07957313187 or at

Healthy New Year Cooking Workshops

Thursday 20th January – Cooking for Men & Women6.30-930pm; Includes full balanced wholefoods meal that will delight both men and women.

Sunday 23rd January 2011 – New Year Recipes for Vitality10am-1.30pm; Discover ingredients for wellbeing and learn to create recipes to expand health this year. Includes full luncheon.

Wednesday 26th January 2011 – Naturally Fast Cuisine10am-1.30pm; Learn about nourishing yourself and others with delicious, natural dishes that you can prepare quickly. Includes full luncheon.


Growing Our Own Veggies – April Checklist

29 03 2010

time to get outdoors in the April showers

Are you feeling it too? A certain … What’s it called? Oh yes! WARMTH!

Please don’t let us jinx it, but it does seem just ever so slightly like scarves are optional.

Which could also mean starting to plant out into the ground or tubs, especially if you’ve been warming your soil with fleece or plastic… However, be warned that the official last frost date for this year, and this is for the South of England, is not until late April, so best to keep an eye on the forecast.

Here’s your veggie growing guide for April.

Green Hallowe’en!

25 09 2009

To help you have a greener Hallowe’en, we’ve compiled a list of ideas to try. Whatever other scary footprints we may find on the garden path this October 31st, none of them need to be carbon ones!

Click through for tips on:

  • creepy costumes
  • horrifying house decoration
  • treacherous trick or treating, and
  • paranormal party food ideas (eyeballs, mummy heads, amputated fingers and more!)

all designed to cut the plastic, the excess sugar and those Evil Emissions! (Mu-hah-hah-hah-hah-haahhhh!)

“Greening Your Heart” or “Why Eat Broccoli”

11 09 2009
clean up those arteries!

clean up those arteries!

Last Friday the British Heart Foundation shared the findings of research it had funded at Imperial College London. The research shows that treating high risk parts of arteries with the natural compound “sulforaphane” reduced inflammation by ‘switching on’ a protein essential to protecting arteries from clogging.

Guess where this compound naturally occurs! Click here for the details, and for these recipes:

  • Broccoli and Kale Stir Fry;
  • Broccoli and Peanut Butter Soup;
  • Tenderstem Broccoli with Melting Goats Cheese; and
  • Cracked Bulgar Wheat with Broccoli & Cream Cheese Sauce.

Will you still shop organic?

31 07 2009

will you still?

will you still?

“The health of man, beast, plant and soil is one indivisible whole”
Founder of the Soil Association, Lady Eve Balfour, The Living Soil, 1943

The findings of the FSA literature review are causing dismay and concern.

Is the organic food industry, which we at VegBox Recipes have long been supporters of, about to be crippled by consumers responding to the reports with their wallets?

Will the study mean, as the FSA seem to hope, that more people will eat their five a day if they no longer feel compelled to eat fruit and veg only if it’s organic, which they feel [accurately or otherwise] is too expensive?

Here is a bit more detail on the FSA findings, including some clarity on whether the study addressed pesticide contamination, our run down of reasons people eat organic, and an opportunity for you to tell us and each other what your reaction is to the report.