Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Amandine Paniagua and Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed
Published February 1 2020
In a pot over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the quinoa reducing heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile to prepare the coconut yoghurt dressing, place all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Fill a pot of water, bring to boil and add the corn. Let sit for 5 minutes, remove corn and allow to cool. Then remove kernels from corn and set aside.
Place quinoa in a large bowl and add corn and remaining salad ingredients, toss to combine. Divide the salad between bowls with a tablespoon of dressing and serve immediately.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. This salad will keep up to 2-3 days.
Several years back I invested in two sets of 4-cup Pyrex containers — these are glass and come with nicely fitting lids. I prefer glass and opt to avoid plastic for food storage. For smaller meals, though I am quite partial to these Luminarc glass jars which come with a simple tight-fitting lid. Both are ideal for storing meals such as this.
This taco salad is loaded with foods to hydrate and nourish our systems — our skin and our minds. Ground down with a protein base of beans and quinoa, awaken with the tastes of the sun-filled days of summer. Summer marks an uptick in our intake of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables. As such, on any given day, the refrigerator remains abundant with lush seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. And with humid nights, my partner and I are creatures of habit, opting for giant salads at dinnertime to alkalise the system and cool us down from the inside out. It's like a nightly ceremony to the plants.
I am super blown away by the simplicity of just eating raw plant foods, and with this taco salad, you are creating exciting flavours that are both bright and seasonal. Salads such as these are intrinsically flexible, so think of this recipe as a guide, not a rule. Depending on where you're reading this, your grocery store and farmers markets will look different to mine. Find what lights you up at the moment and let it inspire your custom creation — this adaptability is why these taco bowls are one of my favourite easy homemade dinners.
And yes, you can get enough protein as part of your daily requirements from this meal. The truth is that you only need to eat 0.8 grams per kilogram (or around 0.36 g per pound) of body mass, which a balanced plant-based diet more than covers. Protein is composed of 20 amino acids, 11 of which your body produces naturally and 9 of which you can only obtain through food sources. The term "complete protein" refers to a food source that has all 20 of these amino acids — however, there are many delicious food combinations that provide this complete source of nutrition.
A plant-based diet teaches you that you can find protein in some surprising places, beyond the usual suspects like quinoa, hemp seeds and beans — though you'll find these vegan diet staples here. Any plant-based bowl can be transformed into a nutrient-dense powerhouse meal that keeps you energised, satisfied for hours. What follows are my on rotation ingredients for creating this taco salad — a weekly staple during the summer months, I've returned to again and again and probably will forever. There are other additions such as tempeh, tofu and nutritional yeast that would be work wonderfully. I love this salad, and I hope you do too.
Kidney and black beans: 7.5 grams per ½ cup I tend to think of my meals as simple equations, adding two or three base ingredients together, this works well with regards to food combining. Aside from the high-quality plant protein, any meal with a base of beans will add fibre, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Tempeh: 15 grams per ½ cup Tempeh is fermented soy, a slightly different product to tofu with a lot more protein. My partner and I love tempeh pan-fried with liquid smoke and sea salt, for nights when you feel like something more substantial, add a serving of tempeh.
Tofu: 10 grams per ½ cup Not for everyone, I'll eat tofu once every other week, it may or may not be directly related, but my skin is better with less soy in general. I love tofu pan-fried with good quality olive oil and sea salt tossed into salad bowls like this one.
Quinoa: 8 grams per cup cooked Technically a seed, quinoa is high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. We keep containers of cooked quinoa on hand to add to salads throughout the week, and that makes it easy to have a meal ready in under 20 minutes.
Hemp Seeds: 5 grams per tablespoon I usually have hemp seeds on hand, they provide the perfect ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids — and are another bioavailable complete protein rivalled only by spirulina. We'll add a tablespoon to most meals when it comes to achieving your protein requirements. Everything adds up.
Nutritional yeast: 2 grams of protein per tablespoon Besides being the Parmesan for the plant-based world, nutritional yeast is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that us humans must get from food. You'll also find the high content of minerals, amino acids and B vitamins a welcome addition to your pantry. Always check the ingredients before you purchase. Some brands of savoury or nutritional yeast are made primarily from brown rice which does not have the same nutritional profile or benefits.
And a final note, the coconut tahini dressing. It is all in the sauce; you can save any (almost any) lacklustre meal into something amazing with a decent dressing. This coconut tahini dressing is still my current obsession. It requires no blender — you simply whisk all ingredients for a simple sauce that delivers healthy fats, grounding comfort and beneficial probiotics. And so with this dressing you will also make your stomach happy. One of my favourite items in the fridge, a thick and creamy, probiotic-rich coconut yoghurt makes its way into our meals on the regular.
At this point, I've used a variety of dairy-free yoghurts to prepare this dressing, coconut, almond and a blend of macadamia and coconut, all very good. And for the herbs, I love dill, parsley and chives but on nights where there is only parsley or mint from the garden that is enough to create a wonderful herbaceous flavour. I highly recommend playing around with this recipe — the bowls and the dressing, adapting it to the flavours you love.
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