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Healthy Lunch Series: Vegetarian Taco Salad with Homemade Seasoning

Posted Jun 18 2013 7:01am

Have you got a dishwasher reorganizer in the family?
We do.
And it seems there's no easy cure.  
No matter how carefully I place the plates, pack the cups or hang the knives, our resident reorganizer sneaks back to the dishwasher, quietly opens the door and proceeds to refile all of the dishes I've just loaded (!).  
It's been going on for about 20 years now.
Can anyone else relate? 
(So what do we think... is it a nature or nurture thing? A confluence of influences thing? Any hope for reform?)
Mexican food is in my top three all-time favorite cuisine types (if you must know, Thai, Indian, Mexican, generally in that order).  I adore the breadth of flavors and ingredients that typically characterize Mexican food and tacos are a family favorite.
The pre-packaged taco seasonings are convenient (and often yummy) but when you investigate the contents of these packages you begin to wonder: MSG, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicone dioxide (an "anticaking" agent), ethoxyquin (etho who? a preservative) and enough sodium to fill your daily quota and then some. On balance, I'd much rather spend the extra 5 minutes creating my own mixture and I think you'll find the taste worthwhile too.

Healthy Lunch Series: Vegetarian Taco Salad with Homemade Seasoning

For the Taco Salad:

  • 2 cups cooked black beans, thoroughly rinsed if using canned
  • 2 cups fresh whole corn kernels or thawed from frozen
  • 2 cups coleslaw or lettuce of choice
  • 16 cherry tomatoes cut in half, or any variety of  tomato chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese or cheese of choice, grated
  • 2 green onions/scallions for topping, finely chopped

For the Taco Seasoning:
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes, optional heat
  • pinch sea salt + black pepper

Serves 4

  1. You can make your taco seasoning ahead of time and triple the batch to create enough seasoning for 3 meals.  Simply store the seasoning in an airtight container.
  2. I like to make a double batch of beans on the weekend for weekday meals. In addition to superior taste, I have ongoing concerns about the  BPA  content in lined cans.
  3. If you wish, you can season most or all of the ingredients in this recipe, as desired, by placing them in the skillet with the beans.
  4. Any plant protein can be used in place of the beans - diced tofu/tempeh, lentils or any other legume of choice.

  1. In a small dish, combine taco seasoning ingredients together, mixing to integrate.  Set aside.
  2. Wash and chop vegetables as required and grate cheese. 
  3. Warm a medium sized skillet over low heat and add black beans.  Sprinkle the black beans with half of the taco seasoning using a wooden spoon to help coat the beans and toss.  Add a little bit of water to the bean mixture (start with a quarter cup or so) and then add the remaining taco seasoning coating and tossing.  If necessary, add additional water to the mixture - you want the beans to be well coated with the seasoning but not dry and clumpy. The mixture should be mildly liquid. Remove beans from heat.
  4. If eating at home, you can plate the ingredients as illustrated in the photos adding the seasoned beans to the center.  Top the beans with a quarter cup of yogurt and sprinkling of green onion. If preferred, you can also cool the seasoned beans before serving.
  5. Salsa and guacamole also make delicious accompaniments. 
  6. If bringing this lunch on the road or to the office, simply layer the ingredients into a container and seal well with lid.  Bring yogurt, salsa and guacamole in separate small containers as desired.

© Inspired Edibles

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I enjoy my taco salad with yogurt, fresh guacamole and plenty o' salsa!
A rare spectator view of Michelle Obama's beautiful garden  taken by my brother-in-law on a recent trip to DC how exactly he got the shot through the fence remains a mystery to all ;-)

Bon Appétit 
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