Saturday, January 5, 2013

Meatless Baked Tacos

Vegetarian :: wow, that's a scary word. There are so many preconceived social perceptions when it comes to a plant-based lifestyle. But what about health?
As I began this new year, I've been thinking a lot about simplicity (yes, it's my One Little Word for this year) ... and one of the biggest commitments I've made with my family for 2013 is simplicity in our kitchen. It takes a lot more planning, and a little more creativity, but I've already started to feel the changes.
I suffer with IBS ... and while Green Smoothies help tremendously, food still takes a terrible toll on me at times. So ... together we decided this challenge to simplify is worth a try. We chose not to give up eggs and dairy (lacto-ovo vegetarianism) and will very occasionally enjoy a chicken wing or slice of turkey around the holidays, I'm sure. But we still need variety ... and I know Matt won't live on tofu and lettuce, so that's where the inspiration for this recipe began.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

olive oil
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 tsp dried minced onion
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (16oz) can refried beans
2 cups shredded cheddar
18-24 hard taco shells

Toppings (Optional)
taco sauce (Ortega is our favourite)
sliced avocados
chopped cilantro
sliced red onion
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
squeeze of fresh lime
The options are endless, really ...

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl combine spices and seasoning (dried minced onion through cayenne pepper).

Using a large skillet, heat a little olive oil. Add lentils and kidney beans and tomato.

Stir so beans are coated and smash a little with the spoon (for texture).

Add in prepared seasoning and refried beans. Stir until everything is well incorporated.

Spoon the bean mixture into the taco shells and place into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, standing up.

Sprinkle cheese over the top of the taco meat in each shell. Place into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tacos are heated through.

Remove from the oven and garnish with toppings as desired. 
Serve with fresh fruit and you have a perfectly balanced meal your whole family will love!


  1. Hi Wendy.

    Just happen to peruse by your blog today, and noticed you had a new post. Happy new year.

    Wanted to let you know my experience. I also have IBS, and while not being a complete cure, our giving up gluten has greatly helped me manage the situation. We stopped eating gluten last May. My wife wanted to try as a remedy for her PCOS, and she read that it also could have an affect on IBS. Basically, gluten can be the cause of lots of problems, more specifically genetically modified gluten.

    There is quite a few articles out there explaining the negative effects of gluten, mostly from concerned mom's. And I would normally thing these things are trendy and what not, but after seeing concrete evidence in our bodies, I can not deny that gluten free changed our lives.

    Just wanted to throw that out there, get you thinking about some other ways to perhaps help you and yours.

  2. Here is a link to my wife's blog on the topic of gluten. It mostly talks about PCOS, but there are some links at the bottom for further gluten reading.

  3. I love this, Chris!! Please thank Natalie for her article. My parents went gluten free about three months ago. My dad has fibromyalgia and recently lost a portion of his bowel due to diverticulitis (a symptom of fibromyalgia, as well as IBS). Basically, my doctor told me because of heredity and the fact I'm a girl, I will more likely follow in his footsteps ... and all she can do is put me on meds. I have to admit, I tried gluten free once for about two weeks. I felt no different ... but does it take longer than that feel the difference? My parents have both lost around 20lbs each and are feeling great. I'm exhausted all the time ... and like you both, have the blessing of working from home, which can be just as much of a curse when it comes to snacking. I'm sure Natalie can remember what the selection is like in Canada for gf items ... but I am close to Detroit, so not all is lost. I thank you again so much for sharing. It's very encouraging. :). Do you guys have any gf favourites as far as recipes and brands? My mom said King Arthur flour has some great mixes ... ?

  4. Yeah, it takes 1-3 months for your body to flush out the gluten, depending on how much you have had in your life. It took us a couple months to notice any difference. Along with gf, we made a conscience decision to eat better. At least one meal was a salad and every meal had some vegetables or fruit. Fresh and natural, not cooked/steamed/deep fried. :] Another thing, that I have been doing for a few years now, that could have played in, is drinking .5-1 gallon of water every day. For the first month you will be glad you work at home, peeing every half hour will get exhausting, but that will go away.

    That combined with gf had several affects on us. We both lost 30+ pounds over 8 months. Not crash weight loss, but a steady 1-2 pounds a week, healthy permanent loss. We honestly don't have the desire to snack all day, this was the most unexpected affect. And our energy levels are both up.

    I do have to say that the IBS isn't cured, just perhaps a little better under control. But for me, a little control is a big step, and worth sacrificing a few comfort foods.

    Your mention of diverticulitis reminded me of a friend of ours who had that as well. After about 3 instances of almost dying, she finally had all her bowels removed last year. Her two kids, 8 and 10, are now experiencing all the early symptoms, and they are eliminating gluten as a solution for them at an early age. It seems to be more and more of a problem, and things are pointing to gluten.

    Personally, I blame the government and greedy corporations for corrupting the food supply, but that is a whole different conversation.

  5. As far as gf favourites.
    We usually pick up the udi's brand bread whenever we find it on the sale rack. 5$ for half a loaf hurts, but we get it for 2$ on sale, and freeze it. So we have some bagels and bread when we need it. We have generally cut back or bread intake, but that is mostly because I am cheap.

    For waffles we get a "Bob's Red Mill" mix and we like that. Bisquick makes a pretty good gf pancake mix. Once again we have these on occasion, eating most natural stuff. Foods that came out of the ground, or from animals.

    Natalie really likes noodles, she has found some rice noodles that work pretty good as a substitute, and again there are some large brands that have gf pasta. If you can find a sprouts store in detroit, they have relatively good deals and a variety of gf items.

    Udi's also makes decent cookies and brownies. Duncan Hines has a good gf brownie mix. Actually a lot of the large brands are starting to make gf alternatives. For other baking we get an assortment of different types of flours, and just make our own baked goods.

    There are tons of recipes online. It will take some experimenting to find stuff you like. Most things aren't an exact substitute, but they can still be good.

    I have to be honest, it's not cheap. If you merely try to get gf alternatives to your normal food, it will cost an arm and a leg. It's really a food intake change that has to happen. Lots of natural fresh foods, which isn't cheap either, but I am confident it will be better in the long run. Our general food consumption has gone down by more than half. We as North Americans eat way more than we need, it has been programmed into us from an early age.

    I would be remiss to not mention a couple other things that I have found to help with IBS, and general well being. A big one is stress. Do what you can to get your life in order first. Whatever that means for you. For me that was a strict organizational plan for work and life (I recommend David Allen's book, Getting things done), that was a great help in freeing my mind to be creative and not constantly keep track of all the things I had to keep up with. Identify your sources of stress, and do what is needed to get rid of or manage them. And an important thing for me, that often gets overlooked way more than it should, is to pray about it, and build a strong relationship with God. As Christians I think we let stress get the better of us. So many times we try to take control, and forget who is there to help us.

    I hope this helps, and I hope you guys can find a solution to help you. I have your blog in my news feed, so I'll swing by if you have any more questions.

  6. Oh thank you so much, Chris. Yesterday, a really crazy thing happened. After hearing from you about the benefits of going gf, etc, Matt, who had no clue, came home from work and said "I think we should give gluten free a try again." Here's our address ... since it might be easier that way ... mwmreaume at gmail . com. It's funny you mention stress, as the past year has been stressful for us with lots of change. I'll share more when I email you. By the way, it's great to hear from you guys!! And glad to hear you're doing well ...