Monday, June 27, 2011

BBQ with Family, Kids & Diets

My husband has complimented me on planning vegan meals that omnivores love. We’ve been hosting a lot of dinners for friends, and each has been a hit. But this past weekend was the biggest challenge to date: my meat-and-potatoes family came over. A tough crowd to please, for sure!

My mom and aunts have never tasted Indian, Thai, or Middle Eastern food, and it’s hard for them to even understand vegetarianism, let alone veganism (years after I became vegetarian, they were still surprised that I didn’t eat hot dogs). So I wanted to make a meal that showed them how good vegan eating can be without being too crazy for them. I was originally going to make Mujadara (lentils, rice, and caramelized onions) since they’d never had lentils, but I thought that would likely be too crazy. They love salads, so I decided to make a basic grilled veggie salad. I also decided to make the black bean burgers I’d made awhile back because they’re not too crazy. I thought these light options would also be good for my sister who, like me, lost a lot of weight a few years ago and is carefully maintaining her loss.

But the big challenge was my 13- and 14-year-old nephew and niece. I am happily child-free and know very little about kids, especially what to feed them--or, at least, these kids who grew up in a meat-and-potatoes family. “They’re not going to want grilled veggies spread with white bean aioli,” my husband said. Hmmm…he had a point. So…I declared defeat. As much as it pained me, I bought hot dogs for them. Ugh.

Here’s the family’s review of what I made:

  • White Bean Aioli with baguettes & crackers. I renamed this “a creamy garlic dip” when presenting it to them. I’d made this Veganomicon recipe a few weeks ago and knew they’d love it because they like garlic. Everyone really liked it—even the kids and my aunt who is a self-declared bean hater.
  • Sweet Basil Pesto Tapenade. Another Veganomicon recipe I recently tried, this was slightly too sweet and didn’t come out as good as I’d hoped. But my mom especially loved it; she liked the blend of garlic and sweet tastes. My nephew even liked it!
  • Grilled Veggie Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. I recently made this low-fat dressing from Appetite for Reduction for a dinner party mainly for myself (I had another dressing option), and everyone raved about it. The family also really loved this dressing.
  • Black Bean Burgers. My family had never tasted any kind of vegetarian burger, so they were very skeptical. They agreed to “try a bite.” I also made Guacamame to put on this version from Veganomicon. My sister said the texture of the burger threw her off, but once she got past that, she liked it. My mom and aunt (the bean hater) also liked them and said they were surprised they were good. My brother-in-law makes guacamole all the time and couldn't tell the difference in my version.

In general, everyone seemed surprised everything was so good. I bet they were scared of what would be on their plates when they got to my house! But I know my audiences well, so I think I planned a good menu for them. But I’d like to spring Mujadara on them another time!


  1. HUGE PROPS for braving the storm and trying to food omnis some unique vegan eats! i have much respect for that and i've actually talked about it in my blog. i even got my omni grandma to buy Veganomicon! and my 3.5 year old twin nephews are into things like nut milk, gluten free pancakes, fresh fruits and veggies, and my one nephew even likes dal and chole (two indian specialties). isn't it great to score a victory in the battle against meat-eating?!?


    GREAT POST! i love it, we have a lot in common i'm slowly but surely noticing...and you should TOTALLY try to get them to eat mujadarra. my grandma and pap, and both parents absolutely love it. it's actually a much easier-to-like kinda vegan dish than my wife and I had ever imagined.

  2. Black bean burgers are pretty standard; that was probably a good choice. Did the kids try any thing you were surprised about?

  3. Do you have your black bean burger recipe posted somewhere? I'd love to try it :)