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Healthy Eating – Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Quinoa Tacos and Cauliflower Queso

By Betsy Bruns

My mom would have been so proud to know that I am going to be contributing to Conscious Community Magazine! We lost her to colon cancer two years ago, and the experience gave birth to a greater personal consciousness and appreciation of community. Walking the end of life journey with my mom has amplified my passion to guide others to a healthier and more delicious life with plant-based cooking and eating.

This month, as we honor our mothers, we also celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which is held on May 5th to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

Cinco de Mayo celebratory foods are often enchiladas, nachos and tacos. I love Mexican food, but many traditional dishes are loaded with meat, cheese and lard, which are not known to be heart healthy. Did you know that most comfort foods can be made plant-based? This means they will have a bounty of nutrients and fiber without cholesterol or saturated fats. I hope you give these recipes a try.

Quinoa Taco Filling

1 cup quinoa

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup chunky salsa

2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon ground chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon aquafaba (bean juice) or olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Toast quinoa in a medium to large sauce pan for four to five minutes, stirring frequently. Next, pour in vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover with a lid and cook for 15 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork, then crack lid and let rest for 10 minutes off of the heat.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot (salsa, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and aquafaba (or olive oil) and stir. Spread the mixture on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 35 minutes, stirring/tossing once at the halfway point to ensure even cooking. The quinoa is done when it’s nicely browned with some crispy pieces. If you like it crispier, cook a little longer, being careful not to overdo or it will be dry. This quinoa taco filling is sensational in crispy or soft taco shells. You can also add to Mexican buddha bowls, nachos or eat straight off the baking pan!

Vegan Cauliflower “Queso”

Pressure Cooker ingredients*

1/2 head medium cauliflower

1 cup water

3/4 cup chopped or julienne carrots

1/4 cup raw cashews

Blender ingredients

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Liquid drained from 1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles

3/4 cup chopped or julienned carrots

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Mix-in ingredients

1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons minced red onion (optional)

*A pressure cooker is optional. See instructions below.

Add the cauliflower, water and cashews to your pressure cooker and cook on high-pressure for five minutes. Do a quick pressure release. If not using a pressure cooker, add cauliflower, water and cashews to a medium pot and boil until the vegetables are tender. Pour the cooked mixture into a strainer over the sink and drain the extra water.

Add the drained mixture along with the nutritional yeast, liquid drained from the canned tomatoes, carrots, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and cumin into your blender. Blend until smooth. For the mix-ins, scoop out the blender contents into a mixing bowl and stir in the tomatoes and green chiles, bell pepper (if using) and minced onion (if using).

This cauliflower “queso” is delicious at any temperature, but it’s best warmed. Try it for dipping, add into your favorite Mexican dish, pour over cooked potatoes, rice or just eat it with a spoon!

Food Facts
Cauliflower Queso Recipe, inspired by Kathy Hester at https://healthyslowcooking.com/vegan-queso-with-a-surprise-healthy-ingredient/

 

Betsy Bruns is a plant-based health coach, educator and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping practitioner. When she isn’t making healing food taste like comfort food, or tapping away cravings with EFT, she’s cuddling her one- eared French bulldog Van Gogh or paddling on her SUP board in Lake Michigan. Visit Vegsetter.com.

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