Meatless Mexican and Meal Prep Monday

Something I'm asked very frequently: "Don't you miss meat? Don't you ever get sick of eating just salads and veggies all the time?" IMG_4278

My answer is always: not at all, because I eat so much more than that! Would I be bored  and feeling deprived if I felt like all I ever ate was plain salads and vegetables? Heck yes. But (praise the Lord) I have Pinterest to thank for being the loveliest resource possible in my plant-based transition. There are a plethora of recipes involving grains, veggies, and nuts that taste every bit as hearty and mouth watering for any "comfort" dish you can imagine. Ironically, I've actually become much more creative and cautious than I use to be in the kitchen after kicking animal products. (I never would have even thought about making my own sour cream out of cashews and apple cider vinegar had I not made the commitment to a plant-based lifestyle after my diagnosis.)

While I know that being full blown vegan is not in the interest of many, incorporating more vegetables and less processed foods is never a bad thing!

I may not miss meat much, which is the honest truth, but what I couldn't give up is anything that involves a tortilla chip. If there is a bag of chips and any sort of dip in front of me, self control laughs in my face. So finding some satisfying meatless Mexican meals and dips was an absolute must. One of my very favorite staples was introduced to me at treatment: walnut taco meat. Sounds kinda funky huh? How could walnuts taste like taco meat? I don't even really like walnuts.. Trust me-this is glorious, regardless of your take on walnuts. It is probably the most simple yet versatile recipe I've ever been introduced to! I use it in anything even remotely "Mexican-y."

Walnut Taco Meat Dishes Ideas:

Lettuce Taco Wraps

Nachos with Cashew Cheese sauce

Taco "Chipotle" bowls

Chunky dairy free chilli cheese dip

Homemade burritos

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WALNUT TACO RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 3 cups walnuts (I use raw)
  • 1-2 T Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 3 T Liquid Aminos (I use Braggs Liquid Aminos as pictured, this is a healthy alternative to soy sauce)
Place all ingredients in a food processor, pulse the ingredients until they resemble taco meat. Adjust seasonings to your own taste.
How simple is that?! 5 minutes tops and you've got yourself some delicious hassle free taco meat that is chalk full of healthy fats and plant based protein!
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Being a full time grad student, prepping is essential for me to have healthy meals on hand that are easy to grab as I'm heading out the door to class or while studying for exams. Salad jars are God's gift to meal-preppers! You wouldn't think they could fit much, but if you're as determined as I am, you can fit more in a 32 oz mason jar than a standard "lunch sized" Tupperware.
I would recommend the "wide-mouth" mason jars if you plan on eating directly from the jar (most of mine are the narrow kind for drinking from and they aren't nearly as convenient to eat out of). My favorite feature of using the mason jars for meal prep is that they are inexpensive glass containers. Many plastic containers contain BPA and other carcinogens that can leach into your food, especially when heated. Pyrex glass containers are a great investment as well but can add up quickly, especially in comparison to the cost of mason jars! Anyway, enough about my obsession with mason jars versatility, lets talk about what I put in them.
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TACO SALAD JARS (5 jars) can easily be made dairy, gluten, soy, egg, and meat - free!
Ingredients
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1 batch of walnut taco meat
  • 1 large bell pepper (I used red)
  • 1 small-medium sized red onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3 avocados mashed into a guacamole like texture
  • 5 large spoonfuls of your favorite salsa
  • Shredded cheese (I used Daiya soy-free cheese Mexican blend)
  • Thousand Island or Ranch dressing (optional: I used a homemade raw vegan thousand island

Assembling the jars: I get ready to prep by setting out my five jars and all ingredients almost like a taco bar. Make sure all ingredients are chopped properly so when you go to eat the salad everything mixes well and is easy to eat on the go! When assembling the jars ALWAYS PUT DRESSINGS ON THE BOTTOM OF THE JAR (this is to avoid the dressing from making the salad contents soggy and to keep the lettuce crisp).

  1. Begin by adding the thousand island and salsa to the bottom of the jar with the smashed avocado ontop of that to complete the bottom layer.
  2. Next add your walnut taco meat layer.
  3. Combine the black beans, bell pepper, onion, and cheese to make up the third layer.
  4. Lastly, add the ice berg lettuce to complete the top layer and seal the jars

I store the jars in the fridge on Sunday night and eat my last salad on Friday for lunch. I personally think the quality and taste holds up very well, some recommend only prepping three days worth at a time.

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Walnut taco meat's amazingness aside, this week I tried a new recipe found on Pinterest via crazyvegankitchen.com. I tweaked a few things within the recipe and added a few of my own favorites.  All of her claims were completely accurate about this delicious dish! Below is my rendition of the recipe.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa + Cashew Sour Cream
Healthy 100% Vegan One-Pan Mexican Quinoa. #vegan #recipe #quinoa | MyWifeMakes.com:

Her picture was just a little prettier than mine at the top of the page

For the Quinoa:

  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 T crushed garlic
  • 1 stalk Celery, diced
  • 1 small Carrot, diced
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 Jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1¼ cup Uncooked Quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Diced Tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup Corn
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne (more for a spicier dish, less for a mild dish)
  • 1 packet Stevia (or 2 T sugar)
  • 1 Avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 cup Butternut squash or sweet potato (optional)

 

For Homemade Cashew Sour Cream:

  • 1 cup Raw Cashews (soaked overnight in water and then drained)
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Nutritional Yeast
  • ⅓ - ½ cup Water, depending on how thick you want it to be
Instructions
  1. For Quinoa: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, celery, carrot, onion, pepper, and jalapeños and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the quinoa, broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin, cayenne, stevia and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes, until the liquid is fully absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in avocado, spinach and squash. Season to taste. Top with cashew sour cream and oven-crisped tortilla strips.
  4. For Cashew Sour Cream: Combine ingredients in a blender and blend till very smooth. Keep in air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.