Plant-based power to the rescue with this simple make-ahead Spicy Vegan Taco Salad. It’s full of protein, fats, and fiber, all flavored with a DIY taco seasoning. Get ready to spice up your salad repertoire!
Welcome to crunch week! Even if you’re not a student anymore, you’ve been there before and remember how it is. Professors forget that theirs isn’t your only class. Instead of lightening the load to give you more time to study for finals, they pile it on like there’s no tomorrow. Walking around campus, you can catch snippets of conversation as students commiserate with each other. It’s a giant game of who has it worse, and the winner gets… buried in assignments.
Here’s a snapshot of this week and next for me:
- Monday– final case competition for Marketing & Design fellowship
- Tuesday– final exam in Business Law
- Thursday– market research team project due
- Wednesday– English final
- Friday– history final, nutrition final, English paper due
- Tuesday– market research final
It just enough to have me up late at night and consequently questioning what day of the week it is the next morning. Which leads us directly into Taco Tuesday on Wednesday, because sometimes you just get the date wrong.
Another challenge is staying active during stressful times at school, despite knowing that moving helps me relax. Until I manage to conquer that challenge it’s going to remain steadfastly on my to-do list. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. In the end I always bounce back, but letting the guilt or frustration over ‘failing’ only makes matters worse.
Besides, what is failing anyway? Nothing but a state of mind.
Even though some healthy habits fall to the wayside for these couple of weeks, nourishing myself with quality meals remains constant. It’s not just a matter of avoiding hanger (although that’s highly recommended). Eating regular meals also improves mental clarity and concentration. You might feel like you should eat less, because all you’re doing is sitting and studying. Pause, rewind, and try again please.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s taco ’bout the situation.
Tacos were always a fan favorite at home. I loved the crunch of toasted shells with each bite, the juicy taco meat mixed with fresh chopped salad, and that oomph from spicy sauce. Somehow I never learned how to neatly eat a taco, even after all the ones I’ve consumed over my life thus far. Is it bad that I’m kind of okay with it? After all, the mess is part of the experience and, you know, there’s bound to be a napkin around here somewhere.
Moving on, high school marked a transition for me as, in my brothers’ eyes, I grew more hipster and switched to deconstructed tacos. Otherwise known as the taco salad, complete with crumbled shells on top. It’s hard to believe, but I took it one step further this week, with
Spicy Vegan Taco Salad!
This is the perfect make-ahead energy booster for busy weeks when you have to be on your game. The base is made of spaghetti squash, sneaking in an extra serving of vegetables, rather than leaving you too weighed down and lethargic to study after eating. Black beans and avocado add extra fiber and healthy fats, while tofu takes centerstage. Wondering how tofu can compete with traditional taco meat?
I’d be lying if I said you’ll be fooled, and would be sorely underestimating your abilities of discernment. Let’s call a spade a spade, since what really makes a difference is how you spice it. Thankfully our apartment cabinet is brimming with spices and I was able to create up my own taco seasoning, sans MSG and added sugar.
Easy, delicious dinner? Check. Energized and ready to hit the books? Double check.
If you try this recipe, I’d love your feedback. Leave a comment below, save it on Pinterest, or tag #lensesandlentils on Instagram to share!
- 3 tbsp + 1 tsp avocado or olive oil, divided
- 1 spaghetti squash
- ¼ large white onion, diced
- 1 pkg extra firm tofu
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- SQUASH: Cut spaghetti squash in half, then rub with 1 teaspoon oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake cut side down for 30 minutes.
- TOFU: Drain the tofu and cut it in half widthwise. Cover each half on a towel, resting a heavy book or pan on top to press out the liquid, for at least 30 minutes.** Once drained, crumble the tofu with your hands into small pieces.
- Combine all the spices in a mixing bowl, then toss with the tofu and 1 tablespoon of oil.
- In a large pan over a medium flame, heat the remaining oil. Sauté the onion for 3 minutes, until translucent.
- Lower flame to medium-low, then add in the tofu and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.
- TACO ASSEMBLY: When the spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to scrape out the flesh. Mix with the beans, tofu mixture, and avocado. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
**Longer pressing time helps the tofu cook better.