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.

 

Chop Salad with Pecan Parmesan and Caesar Dressing

chop saladThere’s just something that feels so right about eating a colorful bowl of salad. Agree?

And something rustic yet subtly sophisticated about the name, “chop salad.” Throw in a salty, savory topping and a garlic-infused dressing, and that’s a two forks up in my book.

I’m sharing this recipe with my Sugar Pretox Challengers, and couldn’t resist sharing it with you as well. It comes together easily and is made with ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.

The pecan parmesan is inspired by the recipe in Angela’s  Oh She Glows Cookbook. Watch those pecans when you toast them (a must for this recipe!). See this post for a tip on toasting nuts quickly and usually without burning them. Unless you step away to check email, wash a few dishes, referee an argument…let’s just say, I’ve been there before. 😉

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chop Salad recipe

chop salad with pecan parmesan and caesar dressing

Prep Time: 25

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

    For the Pecan Parmesan

    • 1 c. pecans
    • 4 tsp. nutritional yeast
    • 3 tsp. olive oil
    • ¼ tsp salt

    For the Caesar Dressing

    • ½ c. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice
    • ¼ heaping tsp of ground mustard
    • ¼ heaping tsp. salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper
    • 1-2 garlic cloves

    For the Chop Salad

    • Romaine lettuce, kale and/or spinach
    • Carrots
    • Cucumber
    • Celery
    • Snap peas
    • Alfalfa sprouts

    Instructions

    For the Pecan Parmesan

    Add pecans to a large dry saucepan or fry pan. Toast for 2-3 minutes over high heat stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted. Watch closely as the pecans can burn easily!

    Add toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, olive oil and salt to a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped.

    For the Caesar Dressing

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully emulsified. Leftover dressing can be stored in an air tight jar for several days in the fridge.

    For the Salad

    Wash and prepare all salad ingredients: kale and/or romaine lettuce or spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, snap peas, cucumbers.

    Over each serving, sprinkle pecan Parmesan and drizzle on salad dressing

    Recipe Notes

    The dressing and pecan parmesan keep well for several days if stored properly in an airtight jar in the fridge.

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    Leng’s salad (vegan, gluten-free, peanut free option)

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    As promised, here’s the post I promised which features one of my favorite sauces that pairs well with many dishes. Although the National Day of Peanut Butter may have passed, peanut butter lovers know that any day is a good day to enjoy this nutty legume. (For those with allergies and non-peanut butter lovers, you can sub in almond butter).

    I call this recipe Leng’s Salad in honor of a woman our family got to know a couple of years ago. She and her family were refugees we had the privilege mentoring for a short time. While they’ve since moved away, every time I make this salad, I think of how much they enjoyed it at our home. Given that they’re Asian and this is an Asian inspired recipe, I wasn’t sure if it would fly or flop. But it was a hit. 🙂

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    As with most salads, this is a mix-and-match, add-what-you-like-best free for all. When I want a super quick version, I’m even content with two of these ingredients – usually kale and cabbage. This usually is a crowd pleaser (unless you have a picky crowd or your “crowd” includes humans under the age of “skeptical about most vegetables), so be brave and try it out at your next potluck.

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Leng’s Salad recipe

    Leng’s Salad

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

     

    Ingredients

      For the Salad

      • kale, destemmed, roughly chopped
      • red or green cabbage, roughly sliced or shredded
      • carrots,peeled into strips or shredded*
      • green onions, finely sliced
      • sunflower seeds

      Additional mix-in/combination options:

      • cauliflower, roughly chopped
      • sweet potato fries, diced*
      • rutabaga, diced
      • raw brussel sprouts, finely sliced or shredded
      • brown rice pasta*
      • red pepper, finely sliced

      621 Thai Dressing (makes 5-6 servings)

      • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
      • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
      • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
      • 6 tablespoon coconut aminos
      • 5-8 tablespoon almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
      • 6 tablespoons peanut or almond butter

      Instructions

      For the Salad

      Chop all ingredients into bite-sized pieces. If using cabbage, slice thinly. Mix well.

      For the Dressing

      Add all ingredients to a jar and stir or shake until thoroughly mixed. Add more almond milk if needed or for desired consistency.

      Recipe Notes

      I didn’t list quantities with the salad ingredients because salads are so flexible. Just adjust your portions as needed. Generally, one full handful of combined ingredients = 1 side salad portion and two-three handfuls work for a main course salad portion.

      *Omit these options and sub in almond butter in the dressing for the strict portion of the candida diet and/or for a paleo-friendly salad

      I opted to create this dressing recipe using garlic and ginger powered because it’s quick and easy. Most days I would not have the patience to mince the garlic or ginger for the dressing. I recommend using organic powdered ginger or a brand that does not add sulfur.

      You might want to start with adding 5 T of your non-dairy milk to start and then add more until you get the desired pouring consistency. This dressing will thicken as it sits, so you may need to add a little more milk the next day. I’m not sure how another type of non-dairy milk will affect the taste or consistency.

      When I sub in almond butter, I usually use roasted almond butter, either chunky or smooth. Raw almond butter would work too, but it might affect the taste/consistency.

      The dressing keeps well for several days in the fridge. I often will make up a jar and then pour it over my salads all week.

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      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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      oh-lay early spring salad

      2009-01-08 14.07.00It’s funny how much we talk about the weather, at least around these parts. Perhaps it’s because we’re all in it together, this waiting for spring to be spring.

      I check weather updates repeatedly as if somehow my multiple visits per day to our local weather station’s website will translate to warmer temperatures in the forecast. Even now my fingers are itching to check it once again. The calendar says it’s spring, but the temperatures seem reluctant to leave winter behind. I need to remind myself as I remind my children that it is the Lord who controls the weather and, thankfully, He is not bound by a calendar.

      spring inside
      lavender for our door :: wheatgrass courtesy of my youngest who bought it for my oldest :: a nod to another favorite past time

      At least I can bring spring inside our home and to our table. For our home, I’m switching out winter photographs, prints and decorations. (And if you’re looking for spring printables, here are a few free ones I found around the web: (Hello Spring by On Sutton Place; Hello Spring by Sandy Toes and Popsicles; Bicycles by Oh So Lovely blog)

      And for our table, I looking to grace it with recipes that incorporate springtime vegetables and my favorite minneola oranges which are only available for a short time in the stores where we live .

      early spring saladSo I was excited a few weeks back to have this recipe arrive in my inbox from Minimalist Baker.  I tried it out, but didn’t like the combination of the beans and quinoa with the lettuce, though I might have liked it better with kale (it’s a texture thing). So I made a few modifications to come up with the Oh-lay! Early Spring Salad featuring a pumpkin seed parmesan.

      CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Oh-lay Early Spring Salad recipe

      oh-lay early spring salad

      Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

      Cook Time: 1-2 minutes

      Serves: 4 people

      Ingredients

        For the Salad

        • Spring greens mix
        • Asparagus, roughly chopped
        • ½ – 1 cup minced cilantro
        • Oranges, diced
        • Avocado, diced
        • Pumpkin seed parmesan
        • Optional toppings:
        • Cucumber, diced
        • Roasted red pepper, sliced (organic is best)
        • Corn (organic is best)
        • Plantain chips, crumbled

        For the Pumpkin Seed Parmesan

        • ½ c. pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted
        • 3 tsp. nutritional yeast
        • 1 ½ tsp. olive oil
        • 1/8 tsp. salt
        • ¼ tsp. (heaping) cumin

        For the Orange-Lime Dressing

        • ¼ c. lime juice
        • 1 T orange juice concentrate + 1 T water
        • 3 T olive or avocado oil
        • ½ scoop 100% pure stevia
        • ½ tsp. cumin
        • ¼ tsp. chili powder
        • 1/8 tsp. salt
        • Dash pepper
        • 1 T cilantro, minced

        Instructions

        1. If toasting pumpkin seeds, place in a pot over high heat and toast until you hear the seeds begin to “pop”, about 1-2 minutes.

        2. Combine all pumpkin seed parmesan ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until roughly crumbled.

        3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well until emulsified.

        4. Prepare all salad ingredients, combine with dressing and parmesan and serve.

        Recipe Notes

        Use about one large handful of salad greens per person.

        If serving to a crowd, combine the greens, asparagus and cilantro in a large salad bowl, but serve the remaining toppings and dressing on the side for guests to add as desired. That way if you have leftovers, the greens will remain fresh.

        Pumpkin seed parmesan will keep for at least one week if refrigerated in a jar.

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        brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza (vegan)

        2009-01-01 14.13.33The weather finally is whispering spring. My children actually want to play outside. I wore shoes, not boots, outside for the first time since I can’t remember when (not counting my time in the DR). Today the boys rode their bikes to school. Yet I know we’re not in the clear yet…a spring snow is still a possibility.

        And here is a, perhaps unconventional, recipe; a nod to this betwixt and between time of eating winter’s comfort food while looking forward to spring’s fresh raw green. It’s a pizza featuring the warming heat of peppers and topped with raw Brussels sprouts and coconut bacon.

        Considering I spent much of my life convinced I did. not. like. Brussels sprouts (I even tried convincing my mum I was allergic to them), I find it humorous that I now try to find ways to work them into a recipe. Though I still am not a fan of a cooked sprout, I do enjoy them in the raw.

        If you enjoy the taste and texture of cooked Brussels sprouts, by all means roast away, but I like the contrast of warm pizza with cool greens and knowing that the heat hasn’t killed all their micro-nutrient goodness.

        The coconut bacon recipe comes from a recipe pack Angela at Oh She Glows offered with a pre-buy of her cookbook*; I tweaked it slightly. brusselsproutbaconpizza

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza recipe

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

        Brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza (vegan)

        Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

        Cook Time: 30 minutes

        Serving size: 2 adults

         

        Ingredients

        For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the pizza – 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

        For the Pizza

        • Pizza crust (here’s the one I use)
        • Hummus
        • Pizza sauce (the sauce I make for this)
        • Pine nuts (optional)
        • Sliced onion rounds
        • Sliced red peppers, organic are best
        • Sliced Greek pepperoncini
        • Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
        • Coconut bacon (recipe follows, next page)
        • Garlic powder & dried oregano

        Instructions

        for the Coconut Bacon

        1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.
        2. Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.
        3. Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
        4. Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.
        5. Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.
        6. Remove from oven and let cool.

        for the Brussels Sprout & “Bacon” Pizza

        1. If using a homemade crust, pre-bake it for five minutes.
        2. Spread on hummus, then sauce.
        3. Sprinkle garlic powder and dried oregano, then add pine nuts if using.
        4. Add onions, peppers and pepperoncini and bake in over for about 15 minutes or until crust is lightly brown and veggies are tender.
        5. Top with raw Brussels sprouts and sprinkle on coconut bacon. Serve.

        Recipe Notes

        • 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. Here’s where I order it on vitacost.com.
        • 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.
        • Although the bacon is soft when it first comes out of the oven, it hardens as it cools.
        • I like using red pepper hummus (especially Sabra’s Red Pepper Hummus) for the extra flavor dimension it offers, but feel free to experiment with your favorite kind. Hummus is key as it mimics the moisture and flavor cheese adds to pizza.
        • I use Jeff’s Naturals brand for my pepperoncini because it doesn’t contain the preservatives found in most brands of pepperoncini found in grocery stores. I get mine a natural foods grocery store.
        • Sprinkling on garlic powder and dried oregano helps boost flavor.
        • To judge quantity, I make my pizza in a 9-inch cake pan and use about ½ onion, one small red pepper, ½ cup of pepperoncini, 4-5 Brussels sprouts and ¼ cup coconut bacon. But feel free to adjust to your personal taste.
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        * *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.

        whole grain pizza dough (reduced gluten)

        pizza dough

        When my children were little, we discovered this book at the library. It included a recipe for pizza dough in the back and we decided to give it a try.

        Friday pizza nights with the “Pizza for Everyone” crust quickly became a family tradition, one that was often accompanied by a movie. Though we don’t strictly adhere to this tradition all the time, I usually plan for pizza night once a week (and make a few extra personal pizzas to tuck into school lunches).

        I’ve adapted the original recipe to include whole grains and reduce the gluten content. I’m also sharing a second version of the dough strictly as a printable PDF. This second version uses a 2:1:1 ratio of unbleached, all-purpose white flour to whole wheat pastry flour to brown rice flour because it’s hard to sell my husband and children on the crust I prefer to eat.

        A single batch of this dough yields two 9-inch pizzas and I can get a double batch of the dough to make one large thin crust pizza on a cookie sheet, plus 3-4 small personal pizzas. The dough also freezes well, so when I make my version of the crust, I split it in half, popping half of it in the freezer and turning the other half into dinner.

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the reduced gluten + whole grain pizza dough recipe

        CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the refined + whole grain flour pizza dough recipe

         reduced gluten whole grain pizza dough

        Prep Time: 75-105 minutes (includes rise time)

        Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

         

        Ingredients

        • 1 7g. package dry, active yeast
        • Drizzle of sweetener of your choice
        • ¾ c. warm water (105-110 degrees F)
        • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
        • 1 c. brown rice flour
        • ½ tsp. salt
        • 1/8 c. olive or avocado oil

        Instructions

        Gently stir yeast and sweetener in a bowl with the warm water until combined.

        Let the mixture stand until bubbles begin to form (a.k.a proofing the yeast). This takes about five minutes.

        Stir in olive oil, then mix in flour and salt.

        Knead 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth and pliable.

        Form into a ball in the bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot for 60-90 minutes.

        On a lightly oiled pan, press dough into desired size and shape, then pre-bake in a 350 degree F oven for 5 minutes to set the top of the crust.

        Add desired toppings and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.

        Recipe Notes

        The right water temperature for the water is key to a good dough…too cold and the yeast takes a long time to work, too hot and you kill it completely. If this is your first time working with yeast, you might want to try using a thermometer to get the right water temp.

        Avocado oil is a better choice for foods cooked at medium-high temperatures like pizza because it can withstand high heat.

        If you are saving some of the dough for future use, wrap it in a couple of plastic bags and store it in the freezer. You can do this before or after pre-baking it, but I found freezing it in raw dough form to better.

        Feel free to experiment with your own combination of flours, though texture and results may vary.

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