Veggie kabobs

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina MS, RD

Portrait of Vesanto Melina
• Summer days often include gatherings with friends and family by the *barbecue, but if you are not a big fan of hot dogs and burgers, grilled veggies add colour, variety and nutrition. Combine any of the following: carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, corn, peppers, okra, eggplant, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, beets, peppers and cherry tomatoes. To ensure that potatoes, carrots and beets cook thoroughly, steam them before grilling. This helps if they are cooked with faster-cooking vegetables such as mushrooms, bell peppers or cherry tomatoes. Vegetables can be foil-wrapped or placed in a grill basket. Marinate chunks in Tofu Marinade (below) or in a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and tamari or soy sauce.

Corn, still on the cob and wrapped in the husk, can be cooked directly on the grill. Cook only enough to soften the kernels. Fresh corn is also delicious raw; have a nibble and you’re likely to finish the cob with no cooking at all.

Tofu Marinade Makes almost 2 cups

Use this marinade for tofu, tempeh or vegetables. Leftover marinade keeps, refrigerated, for 2-3 weeks, and can be re-used or used as a sauce for stir-fries, cooked rice, steamed broccoli or salad. Recipes are from Cooking Vegetarian by J. Forest and V. Melina, Wiley Canada, 2011.

  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Blend the tomatoes, water, tamari, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a blender for 15 seconds or until smooth.

Vegetable Kabobs Makes 6 kabobs

Use six 10-inch metal or wooden (bamboo) skewers. To ensure that wooden skewers don’t burn, pre-soak them in water for an hour before you thread them and keep chunks of food tight to avoid spaces where the flame or heat could reach through and burn the wood. After grilling, your kabobs can be placed over cooked rice or quinoa or served as an accompaniment to salads. Use the vegetables in this recipe or add your own ideas. These are high in protein, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin C and many B vitamins.

  • 12 ounces firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup Tofu Marinade
  • 24 medium mushrooms
  • 12 pieces sweet red pepper, each about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm)
  • 12 cubes zucchini, each 1 1/2 inches (4 cm)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes

Place tofu cubes in a container with a lid; pour on Tofu Marinade so cubes are covered on all sides. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably 6 hours or overnight. Drain excess marinade from tofu. Starting and ending with mushrooms, thread the vegetables snugly onto skewers. Grill over a barbecue for 10 minutes. Oven variation: put kabobs on a baking sheet; place 6-inches below the broiler and cook for 10 minutes.

* Grilling vegetables will not produce Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) because these cancer causing agents are formed from creatinine, which is found only in muscle tissue. You could get some Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAHs), though, if fat drips on the coals and fumes rise back, so keep your barbecuing to a minimum.

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian, personal consultant and author based in Langley, www.nutrisp, 604-614-5372.

See Vesanto Sunday August 12 on Salt Spring at the Raw Living Food Festival, 10:15 am ( and in Vancouver, 7:30 pm at Eternal Abundance, 604-707-0088,,

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