building a better vegan BLT (+ VIP eggplant bacon recipe)

Today is National Sandwich Day. (Scratching my head over who comes up with these things, but we’ll run with it.) And what better way to celebrate than with a sandwich classic…the BLT? A vegan BLT.

Let’s dig in.

While it’s kind of hard to construct a bad BLT, there are a few tweaks you can try to make it even better both for taste and to give it a healthier nutrition profile. Here’s how:

 

  1. Start with whole wheat or whole grain bread. Whole wheat breads (and 100% whole grain breads are even better), give you the whole enchilada of fiber and nutrients and prevent sharp spikes in your blood sugar levels. They also add a nutty flavor to your sandwich. I also try to buy breads that are free of added sugars, additives and preservatives.
  2. Use red pepper hummus. Mayo – even vegan mayo – is rather empty on the nutrition side since it’s made mostly from fats. By using hummus (especially red pepper hummus), keeps your plant-protein game strong and is packed with other benefits like more iron, folate, B vitamins, fiber and vitamin C. Although hummus is incredibly easy to make, it’s also one of the rare go-to foods that I usually choose to buy instead of make – Sabra is my favorite brand.
  3. Add organic greens.  I reached for organic green leafy lettuce for this sandwich, but next time I would use organic spinach for its extra iron content. Buying organic for spinach is especially important since it ranks number 2 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
  4. Slice up organic tomatoes. Tomatoes rank number 10 on the Dirty Dozen list, so if you want to build a better BLT, go organic for the co-star of this sandwich.
  5. Stack on the eggplant bacon (VIP recipe alert!!). Sure, you could buy the processed vegan versions, but if you read those ingredients, I think you’ll agree they aren’t “better.” When I first went vegan, I made my peace about having my BLT’s without the “B” until I discovered “bacon bits” made from flaked coconut. While these somewhat worked as a substitute, they didn’t exactly cut the mustard. I think this eggplant bacon does. Not only can you make it look like strips of bacon, complete with crinkles, but I prefer the flavor and the texture.

 

 

The eggplant bacon is a VIP recipe reserved for the veggie-lovers on my newsletter list. If you want to get on the list and have the eggplant bacon recipe shipped to your inbox, click the button below. As an added bonus, you’ll never miss another recipe on Wildberry Press!

 

Last, but not least, don’t forget the pickles. What sandwich is complete without them? Apart from PB&J maybe. If you want to go better with your pickles too, look for brands that don’t include food dyes and other additives and preservatives found in most brands – especially the popular ones. Your best bet is to check the refrigerated section of your grocery store and it’s where I found a brand that is made here in Ohio and these are the ingredients: pickles, salt, dill, garlic and pickling spices. So simple. Why add anything else?

 

Now I want to hear from you…what is your favorite classic sandwich?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Print
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.