Healthy Taco Bowl (Plant-based)

or should I say ‘taco bowl with fewer processed ingredients…

This year I have made a promise to myself to reduce my consumption of all kinds of processed food. There are plenty of options for processed plant-based food these days and it is so tempting and damn difficult not buy them.

That’s not because ‘Lazy’ is my middle name but its mostly due to the fact that it has a longer shelf life and makes life easy for people who are time-poor. At least for me that has been the reason and I know I am not alone. 18 months ago I became a vegan and have been trying to eat less processed food ever since. I do have to admit at times I have faltered but I blame Ubereats and the monthly Dominos coupons.

Still, I have come a long way in terms of improving my relationship with food. When I was a teenager, I used to starve myself for days. In my mid-twenties to mid-thirties, I was still starving myself so that I can stuff myself with heavily processed fast food on the weekends. In my forties, I am eating proper food but I am still nowhere near to eating a meal without any processed ingredient in it.

This year, I am only going to use homemade, natural ingredients. That’s right, I am going swap every processed ingredient with a natural and unprocessed one. Might sound unrealistic and even unachievable. Who knows but I would like to try. So, here’s the product of my very first attempt.

I have been obsessed with tacos lately. Since I am not a mexican, my first few attempts of the recipe were using store-bought ingredients. The one below was made using store-bought corn tortilla, tofurky seasoned plant-based chicken, store-bought herbed plant-based mayo and homemade pineapple salsa. Frankly, it was delicious.

Slowly as I got the hang of making tacos, I started looking for substitutes for the store-bought ingredients. I replaced the tortilla with black and brown rice, the herbed plant-based mayo for avocado and tofurky with tofu mushroom mince. It worked very well. The ingredients came together so perfectly on my first attempt.

So proud of myself and if I can do it, then anyone can!

Here’s the recipe. I am a single person and this lasted me for 2 days (both lunch and dinner).

For Tofu Mince:

300g of firm tofu

1 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/4 cumin powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

2 tsp oil, vegetable or olive.

Salt for seasoning

Muslin cloth or muslin bag

To make the tofu mince, you will need to squeeze out the water using a muslin bag and some muscle 💪🏽💪🏽✨✨. Squeeze out as much as you can until the tofu becomes crumbly.

Mix the rest of the seasoning ingredients. Make sure the seasoning is well coated. Bake the tofu at 200 degrees (fan-forced) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crispy.

For mushroom mince

1 (200g) punnet of brown mushrooms

1/2 tsp of paprika

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1/8 cumin powder

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp onion powder

Salt for seasoning

1 tsp oil for frying

Chop the mushrooms into small pieces.

Add the oil to a hot pan and saute the mushrooms til they lose all their water. Then, add rest of the ingredients and saute till they start to get slightly crispy.

For pineapple salsa:

This recipe was adapted from Cookie and Kate

1/2 pineapple, cubed.

1 small/ medium sized red capsicum, cubed

1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped. Pickled ones should be fine.

1 half a can of corn, optional

1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped

1/3 onion, finely chopped.

Juice of 1 lime

Feel free to swap the measurements of the ingredients depending on your taste preference. I love pineapple but onion not so much. Hence, that ratio.

Mix the chopped ingredients well and add the juice of 1 lime. You can add salt if you like. I didn’t and it still tasted perfect.

For Rice:

Cook 1 cup of black rice and 1/2 cup of brown rice according to the packet instructions. I normally cook them both using the boiling method.

I add 6 cups of boiling water (already pre-boiled in an electric kettle) to a pot. Once the water starts boiling rapidly, add the washed black rice, reduce the heat to medium and cook the rice for about 20 minutes. Once rice is cooked, take it off the stove, drain the water and pop the rice back into the pot or container. Just make sure the water has been completely drained.

As for brown rice, its the same except I boil it for about 30 to 35 minutes in medium-low heat. Just keep an eye on the rice to make sure it doesn’t over cook. I find that brown rice tends to overcook easily compared to black rice.

Best practice, at around the 20 minutes mark test the rice. From that you should be able to gauge how long more the rice needs. Its shouldn’t be chewy. A bit of chewiness at the end because of some small bits of husk is fine but the rice itself should be soft when cooked.

Mix the two taco mince together and serve them on a medley of rice, pineapply salsa, few slices of avocado and a squeeze of some lime juice.

The mince replaces tofurky. I am sure you can omit the tofu from the mince if you find the process cumbersome or if you don’t like tofu.

The combination rice replaces the store-bought tortilla. These rice are healthier options to store-bought tortillas. Plus, brown rice has the essential mineral, selenium. This one reason why I swapped over from white to brown. It also has other essential minerals and so does black rice. I love the sweet nuttiness of black rice. Back at home, we make a sweet dessert from glutinous black rice (bubur hitam – black porridge) and I guess that’s why I am obsessed with it at the moment.

Please try it and let me know. Feel free to share your version of a healthy plant-based taco bowl as well 😊🌮😋.


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