Taco Bar Dinner

Oct 15, 2020 | Bowls, Quick and easy mains, Recipes

This is a favorite in my house. Everyone loves it because of the versatility involved in these “bowls.” All the toppings ensure that every person has option to put together their taco bowl all while ensuring my family is getting in a punch of nutrients into their meal. I’ve been speaking about eating the rainbow a lot lately. Dinner is the perfect time to make up for all the colors you haven’t gotten into your diet that day. And dinner bowls and bars are the perfect vehicle to accomplish this.

This recipe is actually part of a series of dinner prepping I hope to be putting out soon. It’s 5 dinners that can be prepped in one hour at the start of the week. Then each night you need to dedicate an additional 20-30 minutes to assemble and put on the finishing touches. Every one of these dinners is versatile, allows for option, delicious and nutritious. I even tested it on my large extended family over lock down. We had ages ranging from 2 (thanks yaya) to 72 (thanks parents) and every teenage and kid age in between (thanks family). So you can rest assured that even your most pickiest of eaters will have some sort of option each night.

For now, I’ll leave you with this gem of a recipe. It punches in the red phytonutrient we recently covered together, holding anthocyanidine and lycopene compounds which gives produce like raspberries, beets and tomatoes their deep red pigment. These compounds provide the body with iron and antioxidant rich nutrients which fight fatal diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. They are also immune boosting and promote healthy brain and heart function.

I particularly love this dish because I was never a tomato lover, and unfortunately that preference got passed down to my children. The hubby is also not the biggest tomato fan. So tomato sauce on pasta won’t cut it here. But for some reason this dish is the perfect marriage of flavors that don’t overload the tomato flavor. And their are actually fresh tomatoes hidden in! So I’d say win!

All the topping and side recommendations are jus that: recommendations. The thing about bowls and bars in general is that you can dictate what to include. No one in your family likes red cabbage? No problem! leave it out or swap with some carrot slaw instead. Some kids don’t despise rice?! Fine! Swap out the rice for some tortillas or tacos! Hate beans? No worries, you can totally leave it out!

Vegetarian Options

I love this topic. We aren’t vegetarians, but we do tend to live a pretty plant based life with occasional animal protein splurges during the week. Otherwise, we really save animal protein for the weekends. So when we aren’t feeling the meat vibe, we often turn this into an awesome veggie taco bowl. You can just tripe the bean quantity by adding in a variety of beans in addition to the black beans. I’ve done pinto beans and kidney beans, both yum! But if you want a vegetarian option here are two of my favorite meat alternatives:

  1. Teva Deli makes a “ground meat.” They have two versions: one that’s intended for bolognese and one that’s meant to make “burgers.” I like the bolognese option in general but have to admit that I have not tried it in this recipe. I’ve made the bean version of this recipe and been quite happy, but it’s definitely worth trying out this product if you want a more “meaty” option. Here’s the link to the product. I’ve seen it at most health food chains as well as in Shufersal and Tiv Ta’am.
  2. Vega makes a great fake ground meat alternative. Really quality ingredients and no chemicals at all. There are 2 disadvantages though: a) they come in really small packets, so you’d need a lot to feed a large family and it can get pricey. But if making for 2-4 diners, 2 packs should do. b) they come pre-spiced so definitely do change the flavors of the dish a bit.

Hope your family enjoys this just as much as mine did

Happy Rainbow Eating my fellow Sabras

xoxo,

Liat

About Me

Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I’m Liat, a certified yoga instructor and dietician in training. My goal is to help you navigate healthy living here in Israel with recipes and tips that will show you just how doable healthy eating can be without sacrificing the dishes that you love! Happy navigating fellow fresh sabras xoxo

Taco Bar Dinner

Servings: six

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, diced*
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup red wine (optional but recommended
1 kilo ground meat/turkey/chicken/see note for vegetarian option**
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 cup pre-cooked black beans (or one can)
3/4 cup chicken broth or water
200 grams tomato paste

To top:
1.5 cups cooked brown rice
1 Avocado, diced or mashed
Chopped cabbage
Lettuce
Canned or fresh corn
Taco shells

Instructions

Prep Work:
1. If making rice, be sure to get that up while you prep the taco meat, this way it's done when you're ready to eat. I like to have a big pot of rice in my fridge from the beginning of the week so that I can mx and match it into my meals all week. And my kids love it, so I always have a backup grain ready for them. Pro tip: cook in a pareve pot so you can incorporate in any meal.
2. Prep all the veggies: dice the onions tomatoes and peppers, mince the garlic. I like to chop any of the toppings (except the avocado) here too so I just get all the veggie prep done. So I shred the cabbage, chop the lettuce, and cut the corn kernels off the cob here as well.

Taco Meat:
3. Heat olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Allow to sautee for a few minutes until onions start to turn translucent.
4. Add the peppers and tomatoes, and cook an additional 5 minutes until the peppers begin to soften.
5. Add the honey and red wine and reduce, approximately 3-4 minutes.
6. Add the ground meat or veggie alternative and top with all the spices. Incorporate all the veggies and spices into the meat as it browns.
7. Once browned, add the black beans (if adding), the tomato paste and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce flame to a medium low and allow to simmer for a few additional minutes until a uniform mixture forms. Cooking time will vary based on what type of meat/alternative was used.

To Serve:
Put all the toppings in bowls, place the meat and rice in their own bowls as well, and mash or dice you avocados. Let each family member build the bowl however they please! My favorite: rice, taco meat, mashed avocado, topped with Trader Joe's Chili Lime Seasoning (if you are blessed with a current stock of it 😉

Notes:
*My family doesn't love red peppers, so we have left it out on occasion and it still turned out bomb!
**There are a few vegetarian alternatives I love. See blog post above for all my recs!

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