It is the New Year and with the New Year comes resolutions! What are yours? My husband and I work out regularly-weights and cardio on our own schedules. For his resolution, my hubby wanted to add-on to his workout schedule by taking YOGA. He asked me to join him. I thought it would be fun to do this new adventure together. Today the adventure begins. Today came sooner than I thought! It doesn’t matter that my bones ache from my barre class this morning or that the yoga mats I bought on the way home even feel heavy!! I know I have to be the supportive wife and go along. Who knows I may have an extra yoga mat for sale tomorrow!! Each year my resolution is usually the same, to finally get back to real food and smart eating after all the holiday snacks and splurges!
Question? Why is it when you want to eat healthy you crave the most unhealthy item? Today of all days, I am craving a taco salad! Taco Salad!! I love taco salad but did you know it can be one of the highest calorie menu items at a Mexican restaurant? Guess it has everything to do with that enormous taco shell it is usually served in-but isn’t it tasty?!I am also trying to conserve energy for our class later so I do not want to venture out. Lucky for me, I have some orange juice (thanks mom for leaving it for us after your visit!), some salsa leftover from the last big bowl game and my go-to supplies. I will start there with a can of black beans. This recipe is one of my old vegetarian favorites. It is a favorite today for it will fill my taco salad craving and fill me up with little food! (Would hate to snooze on the mat from being too full!!)
No Beef Taco salad:That’s right! No beef taco salad! No, I am not losing my mind, yet, maybe in a few minutes you might think so.
Let’s start with a can of black beans! Put them in a colander and rinse well. (Cuts down on sodium) Drain well and put on plate. Dot with a paper towel to get off excess water. One key for this to work is having the beans really dry. You can put them on a sheet pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or you can do my preferred method. It is much quicker and I think a little fun!! Go get your hair dryer!! (See now you think I am crazy!!) Put your hair dryer on low heat setting (or else you may have black beans rolling across your counter!) Dry the beans!
It doesn’t take long. Run your fingers over them to turn them over as you dry. Do it until you can no longer see water on the beans-about 2 minutes!
If you are still reading-good- I like to know I am not the only crazy person who will pull out a hair dryer to dry beans!! (FYI-a hair dryer on cool setting also works well to quickly dry chocolate after dipping pretzels or cookies!) Remember to think outside the box!!
Put the dried black beans into a food processor. I once again use my mini food processor (2 batches, but so much easier to clean!) Give it a quick pulse-just quickly mincing the beans not mashing them. If you mashed them, it’s o.k. just go make some black bean burgers-Black Bean Burgers
Remove minced beans to a bowl. Get a cast iron skillet-another key to the success of this dish. Heat over medium high heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the minced beans. Season with Taco Seasoning-there is another big whamo for sodium in Taco Salad! Read the back of a package and bet you won’t buy another! It is easy to make your own. Taco seasoning is simple. You can make a large batch and keep it in an airtight container or you can season and go!
No matter how much or how little you make, same formula:
Equal parts: cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
Double part: Chili powder-double what measure you used for rest-(Ex. if 1 tsp for other spices-use 2 tsp)
Optional: I like to add a little cinnamon. I also recommend smoked paprika and Ancho chili powder-may cost a little more but good investment for taste! If you can’t find it, the above will still make a tasty taco seasoning!
The beans are now seasoned. Using a spatula, gently flatten out beans in skillet. Let them cook for 2 minutes. The edges should start to move away from side of pan. Give it a stir and separate beans-just like you do when browning ground beef or turkey. (Which reminds me, you can always use this mixture with ground beef or turkey-1/2 and 1/2 or even 1/4-you will use less meat-thus saving money and calories!!) Keep stirring and separating. The water will begin to cook out of the beans and the beans will change color. This is good! Continue cooking the beans, stirring and separating for about 10 minutes. (If you are not using a cast iron skillet, it will take a few more minutes.) When it looks like ground beef-you’re done. Don’t overcook them or else it will become more like ground beef “dust”!!
My old favorite taco salad recipe of all time has lettuce, ground beef, red kidney beans, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and Doritos-But did I mention that this is last-minute and that I am trying to eat healthy today? My old favorite also had Catalina dressing. That was a dressing I would always buy to make the salad and never end up using it again-waste! Since then I’ve made my own. Today my luck continues I have all the ingredients.
Catalina Style Dressing: Once again, make what you need. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.
For one to two: 1/4 cup salsa, 2 TBSP orange Juice, 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
For four: 1/2 cup salsa, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Family: 1 cup salsa, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
Put the dressing in a glass jar. Shake well before using. Will keep a week in fridge. (Great as a marinade for chicken!)
I also happen to have an avocado. We usually do have one or two hanging out on the butcher block a couple days a week! When done using avocado, some grow the seed to plant! Some use the skins as a facial scrub. I prefer to wash my hands with it-the skin works like an exfoliate-then rinse thoroughly. (Would have taken a picture..but my hands were green!! But feeling smooth now!)
I add a small amount of cheddar cheese and some dressing and my lunch is served! No taco shell for me today. But you could always use your muffin tin, flip it upside down, mold a small tortilla in between the cups, and bake 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until brown! (Or just give the salad a sprinkle of chips!!) Serve the crumbled black beans up in your favorite taco salad recipe. Can you tell the meat is missing?
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What other dishes would the crumbled black beans work well in? Of course, burritos and tacos (and nachos!) but what else? What about as a topping to macaroni and cheese? or on a pizza? Think about where you would use ground beef or ground turkey and make a substitute or half a substitute! Use same seasoning as you would for your beef or turkey for your favorite recipes. Simply “cook and crumble” the beans before adding to your dish. (Some bake beans with rolled oats and cornmeal for more bulk.)
FOOD FUN: According to a recent study by the University of Scranton, 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions and only 8% of those succeed. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? It all starts with small steps. Get your family or friend in on your resolution and make it fun! Was it to exercise? Exercise together. Was it to eat healthier or smarter? Get in the kitchen and cook together. This recipe is fun with one hair dryer but get a friend and use two. Put the beans on a sheet pan and race them back and forth using the hair dryer. (May take longer to dry the beans but you will be laughing too hard to realize it!) Was it to get organized? Host a donation party and have friends bring donations and let them help you clean out the clutter. Donate to those in need. No matter what your resolution, feel good about yourself and most of all remember to have fun! Life is too short!