Best Recipe: Turkey Taco Salad


An amazing flavor combination, but not too spicy

Cook’s notes: This recipe is adapted from Alaska from Scratch, and it’s just terrific. The turkey mixture is enough for 6 servings. Leftovers are great for lunch. Note that the raw garlic in the dressing gets more pungent overnight. This salad has an excellent combination of flavors and textures, and the recipe is quite flexible.

Make the turkey mixture and the dressing, then assemble salads. You can also top them with a spoonful of guacamole.


Turkey mixture:
1 lb. (16 oz.) package ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Arizona Dreaming chili spice blend (from Penzeys)
1 can (14.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.25 oz.) organic corn kernels, drained

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the turkey with salt and taco seasoning and brown the meat, breaking it up with a spatula as you go. When cooked through, add the black beans and corn, heating through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or taco seasoning, as needed, to taste.

Cilantro Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice [half a lime]
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Assemble the salads (per person):

  • 3 oz. mixed greens
  • 1 oz. slightly crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup turkey, bean, and corn mixture
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 scallion, chopped
  • Cilantro Ranch dressing to taste
  • Salsa, if desired

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas

Cook’s notes: Modified from a Minimalist Baker recipe. I usually cook sweet potatoes in the microwave for convenience, but you really can’t beat the caramelization of the sweet potato when they roast in the oven. The chickpeas are delicious. This dish goes well with sauteed spinach or a salad.

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed with peel on
Olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese for serving

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner). Heat the oven to 400F.

Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Oil the cut face of the sweet potatoes and place them face-down on the lined pan. Lightly spray their tops with cooking spray. Pierce potato backs several times with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil, and the spices. Stir well to combine, making sure the chickpeas are coated well. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread them on the pan around the potato halves.

Bake 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and roasted through. (If needed, remove chickpeas from the pan and continue roasting remaining sweet potatoes for another 10 minutes.)

Peel the sweet potato halves after they are cooked. Break the potato surface with a fork. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and pile the chickpeas on top.

Review: Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas


Perfectly pumpkin enchiladas

Cook’s notes: This excellent recipes uses a full can (15 oz) of plain pumpkin puree. The enchiladas are hearty, and leftovers freeze well.

I omitted the jalapeno and red pepper flakes. We like our Mexican-style food on the mild side, and the 2 Tablespoons of chili powder provided enough heat.

We did not need all 16 corn tortillas, but we used at least 12 of them.

For pumpkin sour cream sauce:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup good quality tomato sauce
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

For filling:

  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of black beans
  • 2 cups good quality tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 16-20 corn tortillas
  • 2-3 cups reduced-fat Mexican or Colby Jack cheese
Instructions: See the Ambitious Kitchen site

Review: Turkey Taco Casserole

Turkey Taco Casserole

Turkey Taco Casserole

Cook’s notes: I made this for a friend’s birthday party, and it turned out quite well. The author, Lauren Keating, notes that ground chicken has a “delicate flavor [that] allows the salsa and beans to take center-stage.” I used mild salsa instead of hot and plain olive oil (not chili oil) and added lots of black olives.

To save time, I doubled the recipe for the filling (1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 lbs. ground chicken, 4 Tablespoons taco seasonings, 2 cans beans, and 2 cups salsa) and cooked the mixture in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. For the casserole, I used the same amount of chips originally called for but added extra filling to fill the pan to the top. About 3/4 of this mixture went into the pan. The leftover filling was delicious not baked but eaten in a bowl like chili.

Penzeys makes taco seasoning just for chicken tacos. Highly recommended.

I would definitely make this again, and topping the casserole with guacamole is a great idea.

Source: Adapted from the Healthy. Delicious. blog


VB6 Lunches

A VB6 lunch with snacks

A VB6 lunch with snacks: beans and grains, roasted veggies; a pear and tangerine; salad with roasted beets; hummus and carrot sticks

I recently read Mark Bittman’s book VB6, because I needed inspiration for lunch ideas. The focus of the book is eating more vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Here are some lunch ideas inspired by Bittman’s book. You’ll notice each one includes a large green salad (see the “Daily Salad” post for more ideas). Have fresh fruit for dessert.

1 cup soup, 1 serving bread or crackers, and 1 large green salad

1/2 cup beans, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice, and 1 large green salad

1/2 cooked sweet potato topped with 1/2 cup black beans and cumin (or chickpea salad), and 1 large green salad

1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1 cup sauteed spinach (or green beans), and sauteed mushrooms, and 1 large green salad

1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup black beans, 1 cup roasted squash and broccoli (or other roasted vegetables), and 1 large green salad [this lunch is shown in the photo]

Asian noodles with stir-fry veggies and tofu

The Big Bowl“: 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas; 1/2 cup cooked quinoa; 1/2 cooked sweet potato; avocado pieces; and shredded carrots. Can be served on a bed of mixed greens.

Black bean tacos and 1 large green salad

Veggie burger on a bun with sliced tomatoes and 1 large green salad


Daily Salad, VB6 Style

Salad fit for a meal

Salad fit for a meal

We recently started a monthly “Vegan lunch potluck” group at work. The Kitchn site also posted a review of Mark Bittman’s book, VB6, which sounded interesting. I read the book to get ideas of dishes I could share at future potlucks.

The “Daily Salad” is a great way to get more fruits and vegetables in your meal plan. This salad is “VB6-style” without cheese or chicken. I’m enjoying the challenge of making a salad without cheese. You can certainly add those things if you want to eat them (2 oz. diced chicken and up to 1 oz. cheese). You can dress the salad directly and just shake the container before serving.

The salad should be about 3 cups in total volume when you’re done. Serve with 1 cup soup, if desired.

Basic Daily Salad:

To make this salad a vegan meal, add 1/2 cup grains and 1/2 cup cooked beans.

2 cups (2 oz.) mixed greens tossed with up to 2 Tablespoons dressing
1 cup additional vegetables: mix and match

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Olives
  • Peas
  • Pickled beets
  • Red bell pepper
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Snow peas

Salad shown in photo:

  • 2 cups (2 oz.) mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup drained white beans
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 large black olives
  • 1 to 2 oz. diced pickled beets (I’m fond of Rick’s Phat Beets)
  • Dressing in the Bowl: Drizzle the salad with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and a squirt of mustard. Season with ground black pepper. (I used Lavender vinegar that a friend brought me from South Africa, and it was divine, but any vinegar will do.)

Additional Lunch Salad Ideas

Adapted from The Anti-Detox Diet on Vox.

Crunchy, green chopped salad
2 cups salad leaves
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup leftover lemon-basil chickpeas
Leftover roasted broccoli
1 celery stalk (or approximately 4 pre-cut sticks), chopped into chunks
2 Tbsp. vinaigrette (or make “Dressing in the Bowl”, as described above)

Chopped avocado, feta, and quinoa salad
2 cups salad leaves
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
4 Tbsp. feta cheese (or marinated tofu)
2 Tbsp. vinaigrette (or make “Dressing in the Bowl”, as described above)

For both of these salads, place salad ingredients in a portable lunch container. Store dressing in a small, separate container. When you’re ready to eat, toss the ingredients together.

The Big Salad from Oh She Glows

Sweet potato, toasted almonds, red pepper, carrot, cucumber, and green onions on a bed of romaine lettuce. She recommends a lime juice and tamari dressing (link).

BBQ Chickpea Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing from the Garden Grazer

BBQ chickpeas, corn, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, and green onions on a bed of romaine lettuce. The ranch dressing looks amazing (link).


Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked April 2015

Black Bean Brownies without Flour (link): One of my coworkers started a Vegan Lunch Club, where we bring dishes to share. It’s been a fun way to try out new vegan recipes. At our first potluck, no one brought dessert, but we talked about black bean brownies. This recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is great: vegan, gluten-free, and very fudgy.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing with Greek Yogurt (link): This dressing is awesome on roasted beets or with raw baby carrots. It’s also good on salad. Reduced the honey in the recipe to 2 Tablespoons, and it’s still plenty sweet.

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken in the Slow Cooker (link): A wonderful way to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts so they aren’t dried out. The rosemary and garlic blend to make a delicious gravy.