Mexican food is great, but the Americanized versions are loaded with meat, cheese, sour cream and other nutrition bombs that ambush my attempts at healthier eating. But I still love tacos, so what’s a gal to do?
First, I tried the vegetarian crumbles available in my local grocer’s freezer case with some packaged taco seasoning. It works for some people but it just didn’t please my palette, so I started experimenting.
After a few failed attempts using tofu as a low-fat protein substitute, I tried another tool in the vegan’s toolbox: lentils!
To add more even protein and fiber to my creation, I added some brown rice. Some veggies, canned tomatoes and mushrooms round out the mixture (and add flavor and moisture). I’ve made this taco filling several times and I think I prefer it to the meaty versions I used to eat. Even die-hard carnivores have had to admit it’s pretty tasty. It’s great as a filling for tacos or burritos, but it’s also fantastic on a bed of greens with other healthy vegetables like raw red peppers or, if you’re being indulgent, some diced avocado.
Give it and try and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your feedback!
Some notes before getting started:
To make this recipe, I recommend you do a little preparation to keep things quick and easy. In the past, I had many failed attempts to cook lentils (they always turned to mush); after I found this tutorial from The Kitchn, the world of lentils was wide open to me. Since cooked lentils freeze well, I make a large batch and freeze in one cup portions. You also need some cooked brown rice on hand. This grain has also been a cooking challenge for me. This method explained by Gina over at Skinnytaste.com is the best method I’ve used so far for perfectly cooked brown rice. I follow the same process as I do for the lentils to save time: make up a big ol’ batch and freeze in one cup portions.
Meatless brown rice and lentil taco filling
Makes about 12, 1/2 cup servings
1/2 onion (yellow or sweet), diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
8 oz. button or baby portobello mushrooms, diced
2, 10 oz. cans diced tomatoes with chilies
2 c. cooked brown rice
1 c. cooked lentils
2 t. salt-free seasoning featuring the words “fiesta” and some sort of citrus fruit (your favorite taco seasoning would work, too)
1 t. hot sauce (optional if
you’re a wimp you don’t like things too spicy)
1/2 c. water
Cook onion and pepper on medium heat until soft. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and cook until mushrooms are cooked through (about five minutes). Add lentils, rice, seasonings and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five to ten minutes.
Use as you would any other type of taco filling. Enjoy!