This month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux is near and dear to my heart: tacos!!
Show us your healthy, creative take on the taco.
For as long as I can remember, tacos have been a favorite food of mine. When I was a kid, my mom had (still has) special bowls that she used to put out the taco toppings and whenever I saw those bowls coming down from the cupboard I knew that an awesome dinner was in store! I think because I was a picky eater I enjoyed the control I had over my own plate—I got to choose which toppings I used and which I avoided and, if I was feeling brave, I could try something new in a small and safe way. As a kid, the taco options were the same every time: ground beef, kidney beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese, and salsa. And still, with the exception of raw onions which I am not a huge fan of, I love all of those components and would happily have one of my childhood tacos any night!
For this Taco Tuesday, though, I’m sharing a different version. While the ground beef is great and we definitely eat it from time to time in our house, it isn’t usually something I include with taco night because there are other, healthier sources of fat in the meal. In fact, many times our taco nights are vegetarian, using beans as the protein source. The tacos I’m sharing today involve one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations, black beans and sweet potatoes, along with a creamy avocado-based sauce that makes the whole meal feel special! In fact, the last time I made the avocado crema my 8-year-old said, “wow! This is such a fancy meal!” when the only difference was replacing our standard cut up avocado with the crema.
Now bear with me as I gush about this avocado crema for a moment. I could take a bath in the stuff! As many of you know, I am a huge fan of avocados, which interestingly enough I hated for years, and will use any excuse to eat them. My husband, on the other hand, only likes avocados in desserts (it’s a Brazilian thing), and has always (lovingly) rejected my offers of avocado or guacamole on taco nights. But in a shocking turn of events, he is in LOVE with the avocado crema!! The first time I made it I refused to tell him what was in it until he had tried it and since then not only has he enjoyed it every time I make it for taco night, but he has also been known to enjoy it as a dip with tortillas chips or pretzels! Seriously, I wish I could truly communicate to you what a breakthrough this is. And the best part about the crema is that even though it makes a meal feel “fancy,” it takes, at most, 3 minutes to make. Really!
These tacos couldn’t be any healthier! They’ve got the lean protein from the beans, healthy fat from the avocado crema, lots of fiber from the beans and the sweet potatoes, and at least one guaranteed vegetable in the sweet potato, plus more veggies if people use additional toppings! They also provide an awesome flavor balance between the earthy saltiness of the black beans, the sweetness and smokiness of the sweet potatoes, and the creamy and citrusy pop of the crema. In other words, I am in love.
Are you ready to give these a shot?
- 2 small or 1 large sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 3 cups homemade black beans or 2 cans black beans, drained
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (if using canned beans)
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice (about ½ a lime)
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8-12 corn tortillas, depending on your eaters
- Optional toppings:
- Lettuce, tomatoes, purple cabbage, cucumbers, salsa, grated monterrey jack or cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- For the sweet potatoes: Peel and chop your sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces, place in a bowl, and toss with olive oil, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on the baking sheet, making sure they are in one layer. Place in oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.
- For the black beans: Place the black beans in a small pot and heat over a medium-low heat. If using canned black beans, add garlic powder. Whether using homemade or canned beans, add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm over a low heat until everything else is ready.
- For the avocado crema: Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out all of the avocado flesh and place it in a bowl if using an immersion blender or the blender if using a regular blender. Add the yogurt. Mince the garlic and juice the lime and toss into the bowl/blender as well. Puree to smooth and then add salt and pepper to taste.
- When the timer for the sweet potatoes goes off, check to see if they are done and, if not, continue cooking in 5 minute increments.
- Serve with additional toppings (choose from list above).