Shape Magazine

Vegan chef and environmentalist Renée Loux applies her planet-friendly philosophy to the backyard barbecue with surprisingly delicious results.

Summer is the time of year when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and perfect no matter where you live. So why do so many warm-weather celebrations center on bugers, steaks, and hot dogs? This year, try putting luscious produce in the spotlight and turn the traditional barbecue into a vegetarian feast. According to chef and green guru Renée Loux, host of Fine Living TV series It's Easy Being Green, it's simpler and more satisfying than you think - and no one will miss the meat. "You don't have to make a choice between vegetarian and delicious; you can have it both ways," says Renée. "And because vegetables, beans, and grains are lower in calories than animal protein, it's hard to pack on the pounds when you're eating mostly plants!"

You can take another step in the healthy direction, says Renée, by choosing organic ingredients. "Many summer-produce favorites, like tomatoes and raspberries, tend to have the highest levels of pesticide residues," she says. "Their thin skins mean they don't have much natural protection against pests and they absorb a lot of the chemicals applied to them." Fortunately in the high season, it's easier and less expensive to buy local produce, most of which tens to be organic or minimally treated with pesticides.

If you think flipping burgers in your backyard is easy, wait until you try these simple dishes - they're flavor-packed, and the entire meal has around 600 calories. The edamame dip and chocolate mousse can be made in just about half and hour, before the party. And while guests are munching on the dip and crudités, grill the corn and mushrooms for the main course (it will only take about 25 minutes). "Everyone thinks entertaining is hard work, but it doesn't have to be," says Renée. "That's why I love these simple recipes. When you're throwing a party, you should be able to have a good time too."



with Artichoke Heart Purée and Roasted-Corn and Tomato Topping

You can substitute store-bought artichoke heart purée or baba ghanoush, a roasted eggplant spread.

serves 4 | prep time: 20 minutes | cook time: 25 minutes


3/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 clove garlic

sea salt


2 large tomatoes, seeded and dices (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, pressed (optional)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 easr corn, in their husks

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed

sea salt (optional)

Place artichoke hearts, oil, thyme, garlic and a small pinch of sea salt in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add more salt to taste and set aside.

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add garlic (if using), basil, and parsley and toss gently to combine. Set aside.

When grill is hot, cook corn, turning frequently, about 10 minutes, or until the husks are charred and pulling away from the cobs. Let stand until cool, then strip husks away and remove silk by rubbing with dish towel. Cut kernels off cobb and toss them with tomato mixture; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

While corn is cooling, grill the mushrooms. Pour oil into a small dish. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each mushroom with oil. Place mushrooms on grill, gill side down, for 8 minutes. Flip mushrooms and continue grilling for 6-8 minutes more, or until edges begin to brown. Lightly spinkle with salt if desired.

On a large serving platter, place mushrooms gill side up and spread artichoke purée over them. Top with corn-tomato topping and serve


(1 mushroom cap, 3 tablespoons artichoke purée, 1/4 cup corn-tomato topping): 216 calories, 13 g fat (46% of calories), 2 g saturated fat, 27 g carbs, 7 g protein, 5 g fiber, 36 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 48 mg sodium




Perfect for a picnic: tangy lemonade spritzer

Compliment these dishes with both wine and nonalcoholic beverges. One of Renée's favorties is the organic Arnold Plamer: Blend equal parts Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade with Honest Green Tea, or replace the tea with sparkling water for a refreshing spritzer. Garnish with lemon slices. As for wine, Renée loves Rex Hill's 2006 Oregon Chardonnay and Lynmar's 2005 Quail Hill Vineyard Chardonnay. Both are light and fruity, perfectly matching this menu.



Make this mousse ahead of time and refrigerate, then assemble the parfaits just before serving. A little chill time actually benefits the mousse because it gives the flavors time to mingle. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

serves 4 | prep time: 10 minutes | cook time: none

2 large Hass avocados, cubed (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

2-4 tablespoons organic evaporated cane juice or organic sugar, available in health food stores (optional)

2 tablespoons Omega Nutrition coconut oil, available in health food stores (optional)

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 cup cocoa powder

1 pint raspberries

1 handful fresh mint leaves

shaved dark chocolate (optional)

Place first seven ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Sift cocoa powder with a metal strainer to remove lumps, then add to avocado mixture and blend until smooth. At this point you can refrigerate mousse in a tightly sealed container for up to a week or freeze it up to a month.

When ready to serve, even distribute half the raspberries among four wine goblets or martini glasses. Add a dollop of mousse to each, followed by a sprinkle of mint, the remainder of the raspberries and another dollop of mousse. (If you have more mousse than you need to serve four, the extra can be refrigerated or frozen.) Top with more mint and shaved chocolate, if desired, and serve.


(1 cup mousse, 1/2 cup raspberries): 205 calories, 11 g fat (40% of calories), 2 g saturated fat, 32 g carbs, 4 g protein, 10 g fiber, 50 mg calcium, 2 mg iron, 31 mg sodium



Renée loves to incorporate healthy alternatives into her dishes. "The idea of making an avocado dessert just came to me," she says. "My biggest hurdle was changing the color; green desserts aren't popular." After a few weeks, she came up with Chocolate of the Gods Mousse. "Avocados are an amazing fruit," she says. "Not just because of their creamy texture and mild flavor, but also because they're rich in healthy fat that's beneficial for your heart, hair and skin."


This creamy spread has a bright, fresh flavor. If you want to vary the taste, try adding a little grated ginger and chopped scallions to this mix. You can also top this with a smattering of toasted pine nuts.

serves 4 | prep time: 8 minutes | cook time: none

1 12-ounce package frozen organic shelled edamame, thawed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place edamame in a food processor. Add oil, vinegar, salt and water and pulse until smooth. The mixture should look like a thin hummus; if it's too thick, add more water. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Add parsley and pulse briefly to blend (flecks of parsley should still be visible). Transfer to a bowl; garnish with more parsley, if desired and serve with pita wedges and/or crudités.


(1/2 cup): 184 calories, 12 g fat, (58% of calories), 2 g saturated fat, 9 g carbs, 10 g protein, 3 g fiber, 108 mg calcium, 2 mg iron, 259 mg sodium