Kidney Bean Tacos for a Cause

Can we just taco ’bout how good Mexican food is? I love using Mexican flavors in my cooking, especially when I want to make something healthy taste amazingly flavorful and spicy. I’ve been wanting to make vegan tacos for a while and I’ve also wanted to share a recipe using kidney beans because one of my friends is involved with raising funds for the National Kidney Foundation’s kidney walk on May 22nd on Long Island and what better way to show my support for raising awareness for kidney disease than with a little play on words (for the record, I’ll be at the kidney walk too and if you live on Long Island, come support by walking!). For more info on the kidney walk and kidney disease, please follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine where I’ll have a link to register for the walk.

Although this recipe was specifically made using kidney beans, if you don’t have any, you can substitute black beans, pinto beans, or whatever you have in stock. If you’re not a fan of tofu, you can use seitan, tempeh, or whatever you’d like.

Kidney Bean Tacos (serves 2)FullSizeRender-16

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can kidney beans, or 3/4 cup dry kidney beans
  • 5 oz. extra firm tofu (or substitute with another protein)
  • 4 small soft-shell corn tortillas (I bought the ones I used at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder (regular)
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. oil (for the pan)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil as dressing
  • salsa, pico de gallo (I bought two varieties at TJ’s, but if you have a salsa recipe you like, feel free to use that)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes or sliced grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. red onion, diced

Directions

  • Drain the beans and press the excess water out of the tofu. Slice tofu into smaller pieces
  • Dice red onions
  • In a saute pan, add 2 tsp. oil and add onions and tofu. Add in spices (chili powders, garlic powder) and lime juice as the tofu and onions simmer on low heat
  • Add beans as tofu starts to brown
  • As the tofu and beans cook, in a bowl, massage olive oil onto the kale
  • To the bowl of kale, add cilantro, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of salt
  • Slice the avocado
  • Microwave (or if you really want to be authentic, steam) the taco shells for ~30 seconds
  • Remove the bean and tofu mixture from the stove when all the lime juice is absorbed and beans and tofu are lightly coated with spices
  • Place the taco shells on plates
  • Add the beans and tofu, then add the kale salad mixture
  • Top with sliced avocado and salsas of your preference
  • Enjoy with some corn tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole 🙂

-Jess

Wrap it up: Tofu Salad!

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Tofu is probably one of the most versatile plant proteins to cook with. One of my favorite ways to eat tofu is in an egg-salad-like dish (sans eggs). This dish can be eaten in a wrap, a sandwich, on crackers, or on its own. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (serves four or more)

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  • 1/2 a package of firm tofu, drained
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric (optional, used for color)
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 3 tbsp. vegan mayonaise
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp. tahini sauce (optional)

Directions

Drain the tofu and press out remaining water using paper towels. Chop the tofu into small pieces.photo 2-8

Chop the onions, carrot, and celery.photo 5

Combine the ingredients in a bowl, and add mustard, vegan mayo, soy sauce, and tahini. Add spices (pepper, turmeric, dill). Mix together and add to your favorite slice of bread, salad, or wrap.

I added salsa and spinach leaves to my finished product. Yum!

I added salsa and spinach leaves to my finished product. Yum!

Enjoy!

-Jess

How to Make the Best Choices at the Salad Bar

My dad and I dined at my favorite salad bar (I discuss that below). In my container: kale, falafel, beets, and numerous other veggies!

My dad and I dined at my favorite salad bar (I discuss that below). In my container: kale, falafel, beets, and numerous other veggies!

If you’re like me, you love the freedom that making your own salad/assortment of hot foods involves. Depending on where you’re dining, salad bars may offer an array of healthy and not-so-healthy options, and it can be tempting to load up on those comfort food options (I think everyone can agree that french fries and mashed potatoes look so good!) How can you make the wisest choices when you have so many less healthy choices available? Here are some tips for navigating the self-service food set-up:

  • If available, choose a smaller size plate. Studies have shown that the size of your plate or bowl influences how much you’ll eat. Eating off a larger plate can lead to eating larger portions of food, and consuming more calories.
  • Make at least half of your plate greens. In general, the darker the green veggie, the more nutritious it is. Spinach, romaine, and kale, are all good choices. If possible opt for these over iceberg lettuce, which is all water and little nutrients.
  • Make your plate or container look appetizing by adding colorful veggies. Carrots, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, baby corn, are usually some common options offered.
  • Add a protein component. Some healthy options include beans and tofu. Try to keep the portion size to the size of deck of cards (about a half cup).
  • For dressing, your best bet is oil and vinegar. Although oil is high in calories, usually the oil provided will be olive oil, which has healthy fats that will help absorb the fat soluble vitamins in vegetables, such as vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
  • Since there will probably be less healthy options available, choose this item last and stick to a 1/4 cup portion.

I personally love dining at salad bars/hot food bars. In fact, I rarely go out to eat and instead I insist that my friends and family meet me at Whole Foods Market Salad Bar when they decide to treat me! What I love about Whole Foods Market Salad Bar are the many vegan options, which of course you’d expect at a salad bar because of the vegetables, but Whole Foods takes it a step further by offering different bean salads, grain salads, different types of tofu, and so much more. If you live near a Whole Foods Market, I encourage you to pick up a tray and make yourself a meal!

What are your strategies to navigating self-serve food bars? If you have a favorite salad bar restaurant or food place, do share by leaving a reply!

-Jess

How To Keep Warm in This Never-Ending Winter: Hot & Spicy Tofu Curry

I live in the northeast and I can’t wait for this winter to be over. Luckily, the official start of spring is now less than a month away. To keep you warm for the remainder of the winter, I’ve made a delicious curry recipe and would love to share. Did you know that the spices in curry dishes have amazing health properties? Indeed, studies have shown that a compound found in curry has anti-cancer benefits, and Turmeric (another spice involved in curry dishes) may lower blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity overtime. Besides the health properties, curry is so delicious and versatile. Adding heat to a meal also raises your metabolism, albeit only temporarily by 8%.

Spicy Coconut Curry Tofu with Sriracha-Hummus Quinoa on the Side

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Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. can of coconut milk (not coconut water, but the actual high-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • small amount of oil for the pan
  • cilantro
  • bay leaf
  • 1.5 tablespoons curry powder
  • red thai curry paste
  • juice of one lime
  • 1-3+ tsp. chili powder (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 12 oz. firm tofu
  • 2/3 cup chickpeas (canned saves time)
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa +2 cups water
  • hummus
  • sriracha or hot sauce

Directions:

  • Dice the onions and garlic, oil the pan, and sauté until just about lightly browned.
  • Add the tofu (drain and press the tofu to get rid of excess water prior to cooking) and cook on medium heat until the tofu is lightly browned.
  • Add the coconut milk and red thai curry paste, curry powder, bay leaf, chili powder, cilantro ginger, and lime juice.
  • Add the peas
  • Simmer on low-medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the drained, already cooked chickpeas towards the end of cooking.
  • Quinoa takes about 10 minutes to cook. Add quinoa to a pan and then add water after a minute of heating the dry quinoa. Stir and if the quinoa is undercooked but soaking up water, lower the heat and add more liquid incrementally.
  • Remove the bay leaves (or leaf), serve the curry in a bowl with quinoa on the side. To the quinoa, add hummus (garlic or plain flavored works best) on top and finish with sriracha or hot sauce.
  • Enjoy!

-Jess