Enjoying cook outs living plant-based (Carrot Dog recipe, vegan)

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I love the sun and warm weather! I pull one of my kitchen chairs out onto the porch in the beams of indirect sunlight and lounge with a good book. I prop my feet up o the railing and read for hours, grateful for the warmth after a long winter and rainy spring. Living in western NY where it’s grey for three quarters of the year makes you grateful for the sun when you get it.

Summer is the time for farmers markets, light gardening, long walks on the trails and one too many cook outs. If you’re lucky you know someone with a pool or you head out to one of the many lakes we have here in Western NY. Usually you bring a friend or two along to enjoy your time together.

When I first transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle cookouts were difficult. Between sunbathing and swimming questions usually revolve around hot dogs and hamburgers. And if it's not about grilling it's about copious amounts of mayonnaise based salads. I would bring my own food but I felt isolated. Sitting alone at the corner of my picnic table with a not so great frozen veggie burger was not fun.

the reality is a lot of getting together revolves around food. Having been plant-based for two years I've found some tricks that work for me. There are two ways I’ve learned to navigate these feeling of isolation.

1. Bring your own food, but also bring enough for everyone to eat or try

This was important, especially when it came to gatherings when I first transitioned. I got loads of questions about what I ate and if it tasted any good. Bringing enough food for everyone ensured that everyone knew I was well fed and it was delicious. It also helped me feel more included as everyone else had brought a dish to pass.

2. Find a plant-based/vegan community or friends

Eating out with people that understand your lifestyle is important for building community. It also helps fight that feeling of isolation.

Not all gatherings can be like this. But it’s nice to have gatherings with plant-based friends as much as your family. Search vegan or plant-based societies in your area to find some like minded people.

Check meetups and go out to eat at some plant-based restaurants to start talking to people! I know this can be scary but almost everyone who is living plant-based has been where you are.

If you're looking for a dish to pass at your next cookout try these carrot dogs with zucchini relish. These recipes are in my new ebook The Spirit of Summer that you can find here. I filled this ebook with plant-based spins on summer classics I grew up eating. Think burgers, potato salad and ice cream!

Enjoy your summer and sun plant lovers.


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zucchini relish carrot dogs, vegan, plant based, ebook, summer, cookout,  bbq.jpg

Carrot Dogs

Serves 6 to 8


¼ C soy sauce or tamari

¼ C Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ C vegetable broth

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp liquid smoke

1 tsp yellow mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp red pepper flakes


6 to 8 carrots cut to bun length (usually 5 to 6 inches)

Plant-based hot dog buns of choice


1.    Peel and cut the carrots to the length of the buns. Usually between five and six inches. I cut the top of to get it closer to size. Once the carrots are cut to size place them in a saucepan and fill with water just enough to cover the carrots. Boil the carrots for 10 to 15 minutes until just tender. Drain the carrots and cool.

2.    While the carrots are cooking make the marinade by combining all the ingredients together in a medium bowl or container, alternatively place the marinade in a resealable bag and add the carrots, marinating for at least 1 hour or overnight.

3.    When you are ready to cook the hot dogs remove from the marinade and place in a preheated pan or on a grill until heated through with plenty of grill marks.

4.    Serve on a hot dog bun with zucchini relish, mustard, onions or toppings of your choice and enjoy! Carrot dogs can be saved in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Zucchini Relish

Serves 8 to 10

1 medium zucchini

½ onion diced small

¾ C white wine vinegar

½ C water

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp of black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder


1.    Cut the zucchini into a very small dice, grate or pulse in a food processor until broken down into small pieces. Add about ½ tsp of salt to the zucchini, mixing together and let it sit for about 30 minutes to draw out excess water.

2.    After 30 minutes dump the zucchini into a cloth towel and squeeze out the excess water. Once the zucchini is drained put it in a pint jar along with the diced onion.

3.    Place the vinegar, water, salt, syrup, pepper and garlic powder into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once at a boil pour the pickling liquid over the zucchini and onion mixture. Let cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge for up to 3 months.





Ali Lawrence