making tacos tortillas lentils

Photo: Lionel Gustave @lionel_gustave

I know what you’re thinking: Two ingredients? Where’s the rest of the taco?

So, I’ll be upfront in addressing that this is about making the vegetarian taco “meat” But to set up the rest of the taco bar, add as many or as few of these things as you’d like:

    • Shredded lettuce
    • Diced tomatoes
    • Diced onions
    • Shredded cheese (or crumbled cotija cheese… or both)
    • Salsa
    • Taco sauce
    • Sour cream
    • Guacamole
        + tortillas!

Hard, soft, folded, flat, bring them on!

Ok, now that’s out of the way, let’s make this as simple as possible:

What You Need:
2 cups cooked lentils (cook according to the package)
1 packet taco seasoning

What You Do:
Cook the lentils
Add the seasonings
Assemble the tacos

That’s it! And before you ask, “What the heck did I just read,” let me explain. When I started cooking for myself, I literally needed directions for everything, including little things like, “lentils can be combined with pre-bought spice packets.” For some reason with cooking, it’s really easy to complicate things.

For example, could you go out and buy each type of spice in those packets, measure out the exact amount in each, and use that? Sure. But why? One tiny packet should make you roughly 2 cups of cooked lentils. That’s a lot of taco filling!

And if you’re a person who was like me and made cooking a very precise, semi-stressful event: it’s ok. This is just cooking, not baking.

wink michael scott gif

Messiness: I gotta be honest, taco bars can get pretty messy, so use some cheats. Get pre-shredded lettuce and canned diced tomatoes. It’s a taco, you can only go so wrong with the ingredients.

Budget: I found all of these items at my local 99 Cent store, so you can make roughly 20 tacos (give or take 5) for around $10. That’s about $0.50 a taco. Cheaper than the truck, right?

Simplicity: This is kinda the whole point of the recipe: keep it simple. Growing up, our mom fried all of our taco shells and it felt like the fanciest, most labor-intensive thing, and it can be that way. But there are ways to make everything taste just as good while cutting a few corners.

Delicious Scale: If you give taco meat a 10/10, then look forward to more of the same. Lentils have a similar texture to ground beef and they absorb flavor well, too.

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Taylor Kiser @foodfaithfit

We’ve all been there: you took time out of your morning to construct the perfect salad that will get you through your workday and all of the way to dinner. But then, when you go to eat the salad later, the dressing has soaked into whatever was at the bottom and ruined everything. 

Or maybe you took your salad dressing to work, totally meaning to bring it back later for dinner, but forgot the bottle, then dinner is ruined and it’s all your fault for trying to be healthy.

Now, there are ways around this, like strategically layering things in a mason jar, but what if your salad — like my favorite greek salad — has no ingredients that will sufficiently buffer the dressing? Then you just end up eating a sandwich or a bunch of snacks that are nowhere near as good for you as that salad.

So, I started looking around for salad dressing containers.to take to work with me, and I found some good affordable options I thought were worth sharing. Of course, there’s a small stainless steel container for $35 for people who just like to spend money because why not, but for the rest of us, here are some sensible options to make sure your work-salad is never naked again:

Sistema® 4-Piece Dressing Pots To Go Container Set — $4.99

 

 

Evriholder Dressing to Go Salad Dressing Container, 2-ounce — $6.25

 

 

YINGGG Squeezy Portable Salad Dressing Bottles — $9.99

 

 

 

 

3 Pc Round Leakproof Salad Dressing and Condiment Locking Lid Airtight Container to go 3 oz capacity — $7.95

 

 

Oxo Good Grips® On-The-Go Silicone Squeeze Bottle — $8.99

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed there’s a serious lack of cute to-go containers for dressing. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way! Because I’d much rather pour my vinaigrette out of a dinosaur shaped bottle than a tiny, yet very stackable cylinder.

Crispy quinoa recipe

I’ll admit it: salad is just an excuse for me to eat croutons.

I love bread, and croutons and everything carb-related, but obviously they’re not the best choices when you’re trying to lose weight and/or get more protein in your diet. So, what if you could combine them?

I recently fell in love with Mendocino Farms’ caesar salad (with the lemon parm dressing), and the kicker for me is the crispy quinoa. They’re like tiny crunchy croutons that are good for you. So, I started making them at home and now I put that shit on everything. It’s really simple too!

What You Need:

Quinoa

Non-stick spray

Your favorite seasonings (optional) like garlic powder, smoked paprika, etc.

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package (Click here if you need some tips)

Spray the nonstick spray (or use some oil) and put a flat layer of cooked quinoa on it

(Optional) Sprinkle your favorite seasonings on the quinoa

Bake for about 30 minutes, checking often to flip quinoa and to make sure it doesn’t burn

You’ll know it’s done when it’s reached your personal level of ideal crispiness

Messiness: I’ll be honest, it’s a little annoying that you have to cook the quinoa then bake it because more dishes!), but it’s worth it!

Budget: Typically, you can get the best deal on quinoa if you buy it from the bulk bins. A little bit goes a long way, so you shouldn’t need more than a few dollars worth of quinoa.

Simplicity: It’s about as easy as homemade croutons, but healthier and easier to store since quinoa is much smaller.

Delicious Scale: If you’re a carb fiend, then this is a great way to get your fix and make salads tastier. Even if you’re not, a little crunch never hurt anyone. 🙂

This post isn’t so much about a recipie as it is about a cooking tip I realized this past week.

Did you know you can stuff peppers with premade contents???

I know, this sounds super remedial, but if you’re like me, then sometimes you get into this mental rut where cooking is an all or nothing affair. But that’s not always true!

Case in point is the stuffed red pepper I made this weekend (not the pepper pictured above — shoutout Wikimedia commons, because I’m still garbage at food pics). It had brown rice, lentils, garbanzo beans, peas, edamames, carrots, and other chopped goodness in there. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Making the rice and lentils, and chopping the carrots. WRONG!

I cheated, used the contents from one of those instant steamer bags, and voila!

Seriously, that’s it. I cut the top off the pepper, emptied it, sprinkled some cheese in the bottom, added the frozen contents from the bag, stuffed some more cheese in the top, and baked it (375 degrees for 30ish min).

See? How easy is that?

Then I put the rest of the bag’s contents in a pan, steamed it with a little water, and dinner was done.

It may seem like such a straighforward tip. But for me, it was a revelation.

If you have any tips like this, I’d love to know!

asparagus pita pizza

I’d have to say that pita pizzas are a big staple in my diet when I’m trying to lose weight. They’re simple, satisfying, portion controlled, and can be as healthy as you want to make them… and as fancy too.

But what happens when you’re out of pizza or spaghetti sauce?!

That happened to me recently, and I had to get creative. I’m in a pretty big sriracha phase, so I thought, why not try and find a way to make that work? It was pretty perfect. With that said, if you’re not a spicy fan, you can easily make this pizza with spaghetti sauce too (just swap the sauce of your choice when you read about the oil and sriracha).

What You Need:

  • Sriracha
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pita
  • Asparagus (try to pick some on the smaller side so they don’t take as long to cook)
  • Tomatoes (sliced)
  • Spinach
  • Shredded/grated mozzarella cheese
  • Feta (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Cover the pita in a thin layer of oil.
  2. Spread as much sriracha on your pita as you can handle (I like to make fun designs because I’m a basically an adult who refuses to grow up)
  3. Layer spinach leaves on the sauce
  4. Cut the asparagus to that it’s the size of the pita, then arrange as you like with the tomatoes
  5. Sprinkle a layer of cheese over your pita (the more the better imo, but you can use as much as you want)
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees either on the rack itself or on a baking sheet

Enjoy!

Messiness — not messy at all… unless you get into a food fight halfway through in which case all bets are off.

Budget — Depending on what’s in season, you can make this all for under $8 I found all of the ingredients at my local 99 Cent store, which puts each pizza at about $1-2/each.

Simplicity — It’s pretty darn simple. A bit more work than putting a premade mini pizza in the oven, but much fresher and healthier.

Delicious Scale — Frankly, I was shocked how much I liked sriracha in place of regular sauce. Together, these flavors reminded me of the Yardhouse’s thai chicken pizza… minus the pizza.

Now that I don’t have a job that begins at 6am, I’m trying to adopt a lifestyle that lets me get my important things done in the morning, and then I can relax at night. For me, this typically means working out, writing for 30 minutes in the morning, and squeezing in 10 minutes of yoga meditation. What’s weird though, is that since I’m trying to achieve so much in a matter of hours, I find myself shortchanging my breakfast.

I’ll grab a drive-thru Starbucks spinach feta wrap, or heat up some oatmeal at work, but truth be told, I’m usually starving by then.

So, I needed an easy solution to having a healthy breakfast without it cutting into my new routine.

My answer was simple. Scramble eggs + toppings in a coffee mug, microwave it for 1-2 minutes, which is as long as I like my English muffins to toast. 2 minutes and 30 seconds later, you’ve assembled a scrambled egg sandwich. Healthy, portable, and the cleanup is just your coffee mug.

breakfast sandwich

Here’s how to do it:

What You Need:

1-2 eggs (I do 1 egg 1 and 1 egg white)

Cheese

Tomatoes (chopped)

Spinach

Salt, pepper, etc. (whatever seasonings you like in your scrambled eggs)

1 English muffin (or bagel)

 

What You Do:

Crack the eggs into the mug and mix scramble with a fork

Add in the toppings and seasonings; mix together

Microwave for 1 minute; if it doesn’t look cooked, continue cooking for 30 seconds at a time (after you do this twice, you’ll get a sense of how long it will take)

Toast your English muffin/bagel

When the eggs and muffin are done, assemble into a sandwich

 

TIP: Wrap it in foil to keep it warm and portable if you’re on your way out the door

 

Messiness:

Not messy at all, especially since it’s all contained in the mug.

Budget:

Really cheap. It’s the same cost as scrambled eggs, or anything else you’d eat for breakfast. And over the course of a week, it’s cheaper than grabbing a fast food breakfast sandwich.

Simplicity:

It’s as hard as making mac’n’cheese in the microwave. If you’ve done that, you can easily make this. You can also play with your toppings. Add an avocado when you put the sandwich together, change up the cheese you use, add chunks of ham. There are lots of options for you.

Deliciousness:

I happen to LOVE scrambled eggs and breakfast sandwiches in general, so for me, this is about as good as it gets.
And, if you want to make it low-carb, just don’t use the bread, and eat your eggs right out of the mug. It’s completely self contained.

As some of you may know, I spent a few months living in Sevilla, Spain. I loved my time there, and while I’m not a very adventurous eater, there were a few things that caught my attention and that I still can’t get enough of to this day. Of course, the one I loved the most is the most confusingly named and really close to our own omelet, only more fluffy an delicious.

Basically, “tortillas” as we know them in the western world aren’t really a thing in Spain. If you order a tortilla, you’ll get this:

tortilla espanola

What You Need and Do:

This is not what I normally do, BUT I stumbled upon a cooking site that not only tells you how to make things, but offers coupons for any of the ingredients. So, for the sake of saving money, I recommend you check this out HERE.

I will add that I’ve tried several recipes and ways to make this, and this recipe is also the most conservative in terms of how much olive oil to use.

Messiness:

Eh… It’s not too messy. Sure, potato peels can go everywhere, and working with oil means you need to wear clothes you don’t care about, just in case some splatters on you. But at the end of the day, it’s not too bad.

Budget:

Pretty cheap as far as meals like this go. Olive oil will be the most expensive part.

Simplicity:

Okay, this is my main piece of advice: cook the potatoes slowly and don’t rush them. If you rush them, they turn into french fries. That being said, accident fries in an omelet don’t really suck. Also, the part with the plate takes a lot of confidence. But don’t worry, I believe in you!

Deliciousness:

I mean, it’s a delicious potato-y omelet. What more do you want?