Tacos with a twist

Written by
Diana Dutcher
on March 3, 2021

By now, you know that we don’t do boring food here in the WEST Kitchen. There’s almost always a twist to give the students a new experience.

Could we have done tacos straight-up with ground beef? Yes.

Would that have been kinda boring and unadventurous? Yes.

With the season of lent coming up, I thought some families could use an idea for meatless options and still enjoy their favorite dishes.

Today the students made tacos with a twist meaning we made our own taco seasoning mix and used a plant-based protein for the base; lentils.

Side note: ask the students about homemade taco seasoning versus pre-packaged taco seasoning!

For time sake, we used brown lentils since the have the shortest cooking time of any other variety; about 15-20 minutes versus 45 minutes for green or French lentils.

Unfamiliar with lentils? I found some helpful information on the CookingLight website and provided a summary here:

Lentils are legumes—cousins to beans, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts. The name “lentil” actually comes from the Latin word for “lens,” which makes sense since the dried bean looks like a little eyeglass lens. 

A cheap, nutrient-dense option, lentils may just become one of your new favorite foods. Here is the nutritional breakdown of a 1/2-cup serving of cooked brown lentils: 

Calories: 115 
Fat: 0g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Unsaturated Fat: 0g
Carbohydrates: 20g
Fiber: 8g
Protein: 9 g
Sugar: 2g
Added Sugars: 0 

In addition to their high protein and fiber content, which will keep you satiated for a relatively long period of time, there are a few other reasons you may want to make lentils an integral part of your diet. For instance, they are high in iron, a good source of phytochemicals, and can help control weight. 

Here’s the method we used:

Lentil Tacos

Ingredients

Toppings:

Tomatoes, diced
Shredded cheese
Romaine Lettuce or your favorite dark leafy greens, julienne cut
Black olives, sliced

Base:

1 cup dry brown lentils – boiled and seasoned with homemade taco seasoning

Homemade taco seasoning:

4 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Add 3-4 cups hot water to a big pot and bring to a rolling boil, add dried lentils and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally. These will take 20 minutes to cook.
  2. Mix homemade taco seasoning. You will not be using this entire recipe; it keeps in the pantry so you only have to make a batch every-so-often. Place the extra seasoning in a shaker bottle for ease-of-use.
  3. Wash vegetables, cut per the shape indicated on the ingredient list
  4. When lentils are fully cooked, drain excess water and return lentils to the pot, sprinkle about 1 tsp of taco seasoning spice on top and toss/cook on low heat for a 1-2 minutes
  5. Prep your shell or tortilla per instructions on the package; we warmed the corn shells for 5 minutes in a 325F oven
  6. Fill taco with lentil base and desired toppings
Look at this gorgeous spread of toppings prepped by Group 3 today

The students were pleasantly surprised with the final result! Many were apprehensive about how the lentils would taste when I announced the recipe for the day but I am super happy that they all had a good experience and tried something new. Many students have eaten beans in the past and lentils have a similar texture but a different taste. Hooray for adventurous eaters!

Diana Dutcher
Written By

I am an educator and entrepreneur who is passionate about non-toxic living. I get to be with my five kiddos (8, 6-year old twins, and 3-year old twins) as much as I want and teach one day a week. It's a beautiful abundant life 💖

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