Healthy Grilling

This weekend is Labor Day and most of us will be taking advantage of another holiday to relax and eat food.  It also happens to be the beginning of college football season.  I don't know about you, but this means more relaxing and more food (and maybe some boozey).

I will say that there are a lot of "special occasions" and reasons to over-indulge.  If you find yourself saying "but it was a holiday!" or "but it was her birthday!" or "but it was give yourself a hug day!" several times a week, then you, my friend, are edging down a slippery slope.  The occasional treat can easily become the norm.  I digress...  on to this weekend's special occasion(s).

School is in full swing and I'm sure everyone's schedules have been cranked up a notch.  Relaxation time is due.  We are full-on set to celebrate all the hard workers that make this country go 'round and equally pumped to watch Game Day bright and early this Saturday.  Personally, I struggle with other ways to celebrate these time honored traditions that do not include food.  Having a plethora of snackies at game time is what I know.  And I also love food.

So, instead of doing something completely different, I am going to do my best to not go nuts and make a plan.  It really is just a normal day with an added incentive to be happy.

One of our treats this weekend will be lighting up the grill.  In Texas, we fear spontaneous combustion and have not opened it near enough this summer.

Veggie burgers are a staple in our house as non-meat eaters, but occasionally we do dabble in the traditional hotdog.  When I say "traditional hotdog", I don't mean the crap you buy at the grocery store.  I prefer to keep my family away from lips and assholes.  But to each their own?

For us, our "traditional hotdog" is similar only in shape and texture.  I've found a great recipe that does take more time than just picking up a package at the store, but it is easy, healthy, and more importantly - grillable!

I have to give full credit to the recipe from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen.  Her recipes are amazing and wonderfully healthy.  I've made a few tweaks, but mostly only out of necessity of what's in my pantry.  *Tip:  Don't be afraid to make substitutions, especially with spices.  Even if your sub doesn't work in the end, you'll have learned something about the way food works together!

It's a Thursday and I went ahead and made these in advance so all I have to do is throw them on the grill when we are ready.  If we have any left, I'll wrap them up and throw them in the freezer.  I'm not sure how long they will last in there because they are a popular item in our house.

I made a point to take a bunch of pics today so it took me a little longer than normal, but I think it took me about 30 minutes to put it all together and then they had to steam for 45.  So, you have to be around, but other than that it is possible it took me less time than it took you to pick up your lips and assholes at the store.

Here's the Thursday Hotdog Chronicle:

I'm a little OCD, so I like to gather all my ingredients first and get everything I need out.

I love when I can just pulse the onion and garlic instead of digging out the cutting board.  Life is simple.

 Sauté up those nicely diced veggies - and let me say this emphatically - No, you do not need oil to sauté.  Seriously.  Add them back to the processor along with everything through the spices.  Here is where I make some substitutions to the original.  I don't have mace or celery powder.  I have no culinary background and am just a regular old lady that has no idea what these flavors would add to it.  So, I had some vegan bacon salt seasoning I got as a sample and threw that in this time.  I've completely omitted it before, and I think next time I'll throw in some liquid smoke.  Don't be afraid to play!

Blend all those flavors.

Toss your flour, gluten (Don't get all, "but I'm gluten intolerant" on me.  Like 98% of people are not.  Yes, wheat can you make you fat - when you eat it at every meal.  Quit that.), nutritional yeast, and flax together in a big ol' bowl.

Combine your flavor paste in with the dry mix.  Get it nice and mixed with a spoon first.

Then, go in there with your hands!  The gluten will begin to activate and get kind of stringy.  This is a good thing.  Knead it a few times until it's well mixed together.

This is the awkward part.  Getting those little suckers in a good shape can be difficult if you're a perfectionist, but not to worry.  Once they start to steam, magic happens.  Just roll them out the best you can so they look like yummy, um, so they look like long things.  Make sure you twist those ends tight so the little doggies don't run away.  And PS. If you don't like the look of the oats in their full glory, just use quick oats or pulse those guys a bit before you get started and they'll disappear.

The almost final product.  You've got them wrapped up tight, not so perfectly and almost all the same size and shape.  I did end up using my scale to portion out each one, but again, I am slightly OCD.

Throw them in a steamer, or if you are not fully equipped like me, take a big colander over your stockpot.  Put a lid on and let the water boil (make sure you start with enough water so it doesn't all evaporate!) for about 45 minutes.  Take a break and watch some Kelly and Michael.  That's what I did.

These are the final products after the steam bath.  You can ever so slightly tell that they have plumped up.  The magic part!  They expand and fill up those tightly rolled foil packets, so your wonky rolling will never be found out!

Boom.  And our healthy veggie dogs are done.  Check out the original recipe here and see below for my slight adaptation.

And for further proof that this recipe is very forgiving, I realized I totally forgot the nutritional yeast in my batch today and I'm 100% confident they will turn out just as tasty.  Just don't forget the gluten, or you'll be eating veggie dog soup this weekend.

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