Texas Health-y Home Cooking: Plant-Based Tex-Mex

Welcome to our weekly series called Texas Health-y Home Cooking!

You’re cooped up at home and well into the new reality of stay-at-home life. But despite the current state of crazy, dinnertime comes around as usual, the kids are hungry — and your hunger pangs are kicking in, too. So, what are you supposed to do?

Many have turned to social media for recipes from their favorite television chefs, such as Food Network veteran chef, Alton Brown.

But we were inspired to take a look in our own backyard and asked some top chefs/restaurant owners and dietitians in North Texas for their recommendations on healthy meals that can be prepared with items you likely already have on hand — think canned beans or tomatoes, whole wheat pasta, or the fresh or frozen produce chilling in your fridge. 

 This week, Annette Baker and Marianne Lacko of Nature’s Plate offer up some plant-based options for delicious Tex-Mex that are also pantry-friendly if you’re running low on meat. 

With many people striving for more plant-based eating, we reached out to Annette Baker, who co-owns Nature’s Plate with her sister, Marianne Lacko. Nature’s Plate specializes in made-from-scratch, plant-based meals. Baker offered two recipes that can be made from common staple ingredients:   chili-topped baked potatoes (or rice) and black bean tacos.  

“We know people are cooking at home more right now and also using a lot of staple items like beans and grains,” says Baker. “The good news is that these foods are packed with fiber and nutrients — and eating more plant foods is great for your immune system. These recipes are simple and can be modified to fit what you have on hand. Pairing staples with fresh fruits and vegetables will make a healthy, great-tasting meal.”

Chili-topped Baked Potatoes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans (can sub chili beans or pinto beans)
  • 2 14 oz canned diced tomatoes or Ro-Tel
  • 2 oz. canned green chiles – omit if using Ro-Tel, and sub a few slices of pickled jalapeños if you like it spicy
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions:  

Combine all ingredients, bring to boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even rice.

 

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or substitute the following ‘Spice Mix’ ingredients, plus apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup:
  • For Spice Mix:
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 3/8 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 15 oz. black beans (or pinto beans)
  • 3 Tablespoons minced cilantro (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice 

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except lime juice and cilantro and bring to a boil. Cook until beans are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Mash roughly, and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Stuff corn or flour tortillas with filling and garnish with taco toppings. Marianne says the filling is also great as a dip with chips or raw veggies. If used as a dip, she says you may want to mash it a bit more!

Remember, now is an opportune time to get inspired, try something new, and expand your culinary skills. So grab the apron, open the pantry, ask the kids to help out, and enjoy some family cooking time!

Got some avocados that are looking a bit mushy? Put a unique twist on a brunch favorite in our next installment.  

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