weeknight tacos with tres taco “meat” (vegan, soy free, gluten free, no added sugar)

Sure it’s not Tuesday, but tacos are too good to have only one day a week dedicated to them, right?! Last week, I was pretty excited about having them for lunch leftovers two days in a row and love this new tres taco meat I whipped up featuring walnuts, chickpeas and lentils. It’s a tres-fecta of plant-based protein.

In keeping with weeknights, which typically are busy for many of us, this recipe is simple and requires quick heating or none at all in case you prepare the ingredients ahead of time.

Let me walk you through this recipe with that busy schedule in mind…

  • The night before, put the walnuts and water in a bowl, cover and place in the fridge.
  • Also, go ahead and cook those lentils (and while they’re cooking, you can tidy up from dinner, put away some laundry, help your kids with homework, read to them or just put up your feet for a well-deserved rest)
  • If you plan on serving guacamole, you’ll want to mix up it up just before you serve it.
  • The morning of…chop up some lettuce, tomatoes and any other fresh topping that won’t spoil and store in separate airtight bags or containers. Have your salsa chilling in the fridge too and set out your spices for the tres taco “meat.”
  • Dinnertime prep…prepare the tres taco meat according to the directions. If you want the taco meat warmed, add it to a saucepan with a some salsa and gently warm it over medium-high heat which takes less than 5 minutes. If your children are old enough, they can help set out the toppings while you do this!
  • If you’re making the guac…pull out the bowl with some the prepared ingredients, add the lime juice and then the avocado and mash away.

There you go. Dinner reading in one, two, tres!

 

Before we get to the recipe, I have a little something extra for you… 

How would you like my favorite go-to guacamole recipe, and top three guac-tips which include cutting the fat but not the flavor, how to make it easier to prep on busy weeknights PLUS the secret ingredient I like to pair it with delivered right to your inbox? You would! Super! Just click this link to receive your FREE printable guacamole recipe + tip sheet.

 

 

 

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weeknight tacos with tres taco "meat"
Prep Time
6 hr
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
7 hr
 

This plant-protein packed taco "meat." featuring lentils, chickpeas and walnuts is simple to prepare and even with a little extra prep step. The lentils and chickpeas also keep it budget friendly. When combined with crisp organic taco shells and a few simple topping, weeknight dinners come together in one, two, tres!

Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 tacos
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the Tres Taco Meat
  • 3/4 cups walnuts, soaked 6 hours or overnight
  • 1/3 cup uncooked lentils
  • 2/3 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp chiii powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup salsa or 1 medium tomato
For the toppings (suggested ingredients)
  • lettuce, chopped fine
  • tomatoes, diced fine
  • sugar free salsa*
  • jalapeno peppers
  • guacamole
Instructions
  1. Put the walnuts in a bowl with enough water to cover them completely and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours to overnight.

  2. Either the night before or at least 1 one before you want to make your taco meat, cook the lentils according to package directions.

  3. In the meantime, prepare the other taco toppings. I recommend making the guacamole just before you're ready to eat it to minimize the oxidation.

  4. When you're ready to make the taco meat, drain the walnuts and rinse, then add to a food processor along with the remaining taco meat ingredients. If you want to warm the taco meat, add to a medium saucepan along with some salsa and heat over medium-high for about 5 minutes.

  5. Assemble and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*I usually buy Tostitos or Old El Paso salsa, but you can buy any kind that is free of sugar (read the ingredients to be sure!)

*I love Jeff's Natural's jalapeno peppers because they're free of some of the additives and dyes typically found in most prepared jalapeno pepper brands.

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my taco shells at Trader Joe’s because they are organic which you can get online here!
  • I love Jeff’s Natural’s jalepeno peppers which are free from the usual additives and dyes found on store shelves. I find mine at Whole Foods Market, but you also can get them here.

 

sweet potato & lentil soup (vegan, oil-free)

2009-01-19 17.49.37The first vegan cookbook I ever purchased was Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson*. It was during the season in my life that my oldest son likes to refer to as “the time when we weren’t eating healthy.” I refer to it as the time when I didn’t realize the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

But the Lord knew He would bring me to this place, so He gradually encouraged me to go meat-free on more than just Monday. I started by exploring vegan and vegetarian cookbooks in our local library until I stumbled upon Vegan Planet*.

One of my favorite recipes from the book is Robin’s “Indian-spiced Lentil Soup” on page 78.

Although soups are most often thought of in the fall and winter, I make them year round. Especially when spring shows its chillier side.
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100_1757And I think this soup is especially spring-like with the bright addition of cilantro, an herb that flourishes in cooler temperatures.

2009-01-19 17.12.30Spring, summer, fall, winter, here is my version of this sweet potato lentil soup.

swplentilsoup CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the sweet potato lentil soup recipe

sweet potato lentil soup

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 60-70 minutes

Ingredients (6-8)

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • 1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups dried brown lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, minced
  • ½-3/4 tsp. salt
  • Dashes of pepper

Instructions

In a stock pot, sauté onions, celery and garlic in a little water until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)

Add sweet potatoes and sauté 5 minutes more.

Add water, tomatoes and seasonings except the cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 55 minutes until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked through.

Add cilantro and cook 10 minutes more.

Recipe Notes

As with most soups, this one tastes even better the second day when the flavors have fully developed.

This soup freezes well, so make some extra and keep on hand when you need a meal in a pinch.

 *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.

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cabbage rolls (vegan)

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Despite the warmer weather today, I know we’re not quite in the clear yet…a few weeks of wintery weather may still be upon us. Which means there will be many days left which call for the warming dishes of comfort food.

Last week, I turned to my quarter-Polish roots to prepare a vegan twist on the traditional cabbage roll. For  the longest time, this was one dish that I never warmed up to until recently. I think it was the unusual color + size of the cabbage leaves that was a turn off.

But ever since I learned more about my great-grandparents who emigrated from Poland to Canada in the late 1920’s, my appreciation (and apparently, appetite) for this part of my heritage has grown. nanpics

Traditionally, cabbage rolls are prepared with ground pork, salt pork or ground beef combined with rice and onions. This recipe is based on the one my mother gave me, but I incorporated some coconut bacon to approximate the flavor of salt pork.

Despite the length of prep and cook time, this dish is simple to prepare.

cabbage rolls1

So, what kind of dishes have you grown to love?

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the vegan cabbage rolls recipe
CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

 vegan cabbage rolls

Prep Time: 90 minutes

Cook Time: 2-3 hours

Keywords: bake saute entree gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian whole grain cabbage rice tomato sauce lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 cabbage head, core removed
  • 1 c. brown rice (organic is best)
  • ½ c. brown lentils
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. coconut bacon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3-4 cups tomato sauce

For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the cabbage rolls- save the extra for other recipes!)

  • 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 T coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

Cook rice in 1 ¾ c. water until liquid is absorbed. In a separate pot, cook lentils in 1-1 ¼ c. water until tender.

Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in dairy free butter until tender; set aside.

To prepare cabbage leaves: place cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water. Use tongs to remove leaves one at a time as they become softened and loose (about 20-30 seconds between each leaf layer). Set aside.

When rice and lentils are cooked, combine, then mix in coconut bacon and seasonings.

Depending on the leaf size, spoon ¼-1/2 c. of rice/lentil mixture into each leaf. Fold in bottom and top and then roll closed.*

Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with tomato sauce and place rolls seam side down into dish (you can do this as you roll each one). When all the rolls are prepared, pour remaining sauce over the rolls until they are almost completely covered.

Cover with foil and place in a 325 degree F oven and bake for 2-3 hours, turning down the temperature if needed to prevent burning. The rolls are cooked when most of the tomato sauce is absorbed.

for the Coconut Bacon

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.

Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.

Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.

Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Recipe Notes

Depending on the size of your cabbage leaves, you will need anywhere from 12-18 leaves for this recipe. You can use the remainder of the cabbage in other recipes.

Cabbage rolls are formed similar to burritos or spring rolls. There are online tutorials of how to roll them if you are unsure of the correct method.

Carefully monitor the level of the tomato sauce, especially as the cooking time approaches the two hour mark

For the coconut bacon, you can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Vitacost.com* offers a great price per bottle.

I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.

*Clicking this link gives me credit to Vitacost’s Refer-a-Friend program

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