Friday, March 24, 2017

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Black Bean Tacos

For a good, long while I have been on kitchen auto-pilot making mostly the same things. The time has now come to work on my menus.

I'm currently researching the best diet for me as I start treatment for breast cancer and while I have just started the process I know that increasing the most nutritious veggies, herbs and spices is as important important as drastically cutting sugar. Cutting sugar has been easier than I expected so I'm focusing on getting the good stuff in.

There are so many different theories are out there - Vegan, Keto, Mediterranean, etc. - all been recommended by various people and sources. I can see pluses and minuses to most so am taking my time and learning what will be right for my situation with my necessary restrictions like gluten free, dye free, etc. So while I continue to research I'm making lots of old favorites (especially Sri Lankan recipes with all the turmeric, ginger and spice) and some new vegan dishes.

Vegetables are a favorite, so it's not a burden to try and reconfigure my diet but it can be a challenge to make them a main course when you love spicy flavors and strive to use only whole foods rather than processed items.

The guys are not changing their diets but are getting exposed to lots of new veggie dishes in the process. So far they are just adding them to their usual meals and it's working out fine for everyone. Joe, especially, has surprised me with embracing arugula and watercress in his salads and trying some different roasted veggies. So in many ways this is a win win for us.

This is one dish I experimented with on our last Taco Tuesday and we liked it so much I made it all over again on Friday - doubling the recipe for leftovers. It's super fast and easy and very satisfying.

I've tried this combination in a crispy taco shell, without tortillas in a bowl and wrapped in in collard leaves. Every version was delicious and I've got another two pounds of butternut squash to saute tonight.

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Black Bean Tacos

Saute in a medium sized saute pan:

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 large Onion, minced
4 large cloves Garlic, minced

In another small saucepan heat:

2 cups Black Beans (approximately, either homemade or canned)

When the onions and garlic are softened, add:

1 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne (this will be spicy - just a dash if you don't love it hot)
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 pound Butternut Squash, cut into cubes

Continue to saute until squash is cooked through - about 15 minutes or so. I mashed a bit with the back of a spoon as I stirred.

Just before you are ready to serve, toss in:

2 cups packed and rinsed Baby Spinach which will wilt and heat through in a minute.

Serve in taco shells, as nachos, in bowls or rolled in a large steamed kale leaf and top the squash and spinach with black beans, and guacamole and any favorite salsa you like.

We love to add a mixture of cilantro (one whole large bunch), onion (one medium to large) and jalepeno (at least one large) all minced together and liberally spooned on top. I make up this mixture at least once a week and use it to top almost all Mexican and Asian foods I make. It will keep a couple of days in the fridge.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

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