Plant-based options for traditional BBQ dishes! - PMD Alliance

Summer is reminiscent of backyard BBQ’s, pool parties, plus friends and family getting together while enjoying delicious food.  At Parkinson’s Disease Nutrition, we encourage people with PD to minimize dairy and animal products and increase fibrous fruits and vegetables. Research has shown fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and water content and are beneficial for people with PD. Try some of these options for a healthier spin on just a few favorite summertime foods.

It can be as simple as swapping out your beef hamburger for a delicious veggie burger. Nowadays you can find veggie burgers or plant-based burgers at any grocery store! The burgers will be in the plant-based section of the meat aisle OR in the frozen section. There are many brands out there, the closest to a real burger is the Beyond Burger. These burgers grill up just like beef! Add your favorite burger toppings and you won’t even notice the difference.

Another great trade out is Carrot Dogs.  Carrots Dogs are marinated and grilled carrots that replace hot dogs. Carrots dogs are full of fiber, vitamins, and overall good nutrients. Carrots are cheaper than hot dogs and take about the same time as grilling a hot dog. (See recipe below)

Now onto some side dishes.  Potato salad, macaroni salad, and baked beans are some of the most popular dishes for summertime gathering. Simply change your mayonnaise-based salads to mustard and olive oil for a healthier switch and a completely plant-based dish.  These salads are also a good opportunity to add lots of herbs and spices. Use dill, parsley, bell peppers and paprika in your potato salad. These herbs are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Paprika and bell peppers also give you some neuroprotective properties.  Baked beans are full of fiber but do be conscious of the high protein content as this may interfere with medication absorption.

Add a fruit and veggie platter, corn chips, hummus, salsa, and guacamole for snacks that are healthy and easy to serve. Your food processor is your friend! Food processors typically can shred, slice, blend and puree foods which will make preparing salads and dips much quicker.

Trying some of these trade-outs will give you a chance to play with your old recipes and introduce new concepts to family and friends.

Carrot Dog Recipe for Two

  • 2 whole carrots, ends cut off
  • 2 tablespoons liquid aminos
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons savory seasoning mix
    • For seasoning mix combine the following and mix:
      • 1 tablespoon cumin
      • 1 tablespoon paprika
      • 1 tablespoon chili powder
      • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 hot dog buns
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • relish


  1. Fill stock pot with enough water to cover carrots.
  2. Boil carrots on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, remove from heat and drain.
  3. Once carrots are cooled pierce with a fork several times
  4. Add liquid aminos, oil, seasoning mix and carrots into a Ziplock bag.
  5. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. Grill carrots on BBQ or in a frying pan until hot and slightly charred.
  7. Enjoy on a hot dog bun – with toppings of your choice!

TIP:  Carrots can marinade in bag up to 5 days.

For more information on nutrition and PD, visit the Parkinson’s Disease Nutrition website by clicking below.

Vanessa Leschak is a public speaker, chef and certified nutritionist who helps people with Parkinson disease and their care partners live healthier through a mostly plant-based lifestyle.

Vanessa has a close friend who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005. His diagnosis initiated her need to learn about PD and her drive to help the PD community. Before co-founding Parkinson’s Disease Nutrition, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, Vanessa worked 10 years as a personal chef providing plant-based meals to people who wanted to implement healthier eating into their lives. She also worked as a Manager of Education Programs for a local nonprofit providing exercise for people with PD. After a successful career helping spread Parkinson-specific exercise around the globe Vanessa now educates people in the Parkinson’s community on the research of plant-based eating to help manage disease symptoms. Parkinson’s Disease Nutrition provides 1:1 consults, cooking classes, community presentations, workshops, resources and an online grocery delivery service to people with Parkinson’s and their care partners.

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