We’d been home 15 minutes when Tim said he felt like going out. Our plane from Chicago to Nashville had been delayed, then delayed again, so by the time we were standing in our kitchen, suitcases unopened and the source of that very unfortunate musty smell that had greeted us when we’d arrived yet to be discovered, it was already past 8 p.m. Nonetheless, “let’s do it” were the words that came out of my mouth in response to him. I’d been gone almost a week, and we’d been together with family for several days. Spending time alone together, even just going to the grocery store before it closed on Tuesday night, felt like luxury.
“Yeah,” I said to him. “Let’s go someplace else.”
Before we left, in the fastest fashion to date, I scrambled through one of our newest cookbooks, picked out a few ideas, scribbled down a meal plan in our sunshiney yellow journal and compiled a barebones grocery list. We’d only be shopping for the rest of the week, leaving the planning for the following week for a day when there was more time to think. Still, though, thanks to one recipe I’d hoped to make on Wednesday, the list wasn’t short.
That Wednesday recipe, which Tim and I tweaked and changed and made together to eat with Nathan two days ago, was for these vegetarian tacos. They are inspired by Balanced Raw, where they’re originally dubbed ”sugar potato, fiery mushroom, and chipotle creme tacos with zesty radish slaw,” and while that’s a pretty enticing name on its own, the cookbook picture on the opposite page is what sold me. A few months ago, someone at my church told me that while her kids hate most new foods, everything changes when she sticks them in a taco. “They’ll eat anything in a tortilla,” she’d said to me.
Next time someone tells me that, I’ll say, “me too.”
The next day, Wednesday, turned out to be an especially hectic day, the way days after trips can tend to be. It was a mess of work and plumbers (long story!) and checking out a few new-to-the-market houses (because, yes, that hunt is still going strong), so the tacos we ate ended up being more loosely based off the original recipe than I’d planned, but they’re still worth telling you about when I tell you about the book that inspired them because we’d make them again in a heartbeat.
Our review copy of Balanced Raw came only a day or so before I left for the woods, but as soon as I flipped through it, I knew it was a book I’d like. The premise is combining both raw and cooked whole, real foods for optimal health. Created by Tina Leigh of Haute Health Now, it includes a four-week cleansing program better than almost any other published version we’ve seen. For anyone looking to jump-start physical wellness with a not-too-crazy, step-by-step plan, this book is worth buying. And actually, even for someone not looking to do a cleanse, the book is a valuable resource, if only for the recipes focused on clean, unprocessed foods. From a “shaved roots and herbed parsnip stack” in week one to an “apple pie smoothie” in week two to some falafel-stuffed collards (or, hello, these tacos!) in week three, we found a lot of inspiration.
We also found a vegetarian taco recipe sure to be on our menu plan again sometime soon.
Sweet Potato, Mushroom + Radish Slaw Tacos
Adapted from Balanced Raw
Serves three for dinner
This has nothing to do with the tacos, but two hours before we made them, I was drying onions in the oven based on this recipe from Gluten-Free Girl. Amazing. (Tim says we should throw these in tacos, too.)
2 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted
1 cup crimini mushrooms
Crushed red chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup sliced red radish
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 or 5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped or torn into small pieces
Organic and/or sprouted corn tortillas
Cashew cream dip, optional
Preheat the oven to 375F.
If you’re like me, it helps to think of these tacos in terms of the parts that make them whole: roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and a radish slaw (plus toppings). So to make the tacos, start out with the sweet potatoes: Peel and dice them into small pieces. Toss in a large bowl with a tablespoon of softened or melted coconut oil and a hefty few dashes of salt. Spread the pieces out on a baking sheet and stick in the oven while you continue doing everything else. They’ll take around 45 minutes to an hour to get soft and golden.
Next, chop up the crimini mushrooms. Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Add a few dashes of crushed red chili pepper flakes, using more or less depending on how hot you like your mushrooms. Toss a few times, and keep cooking the mushrooms until they’re soft, but not mushy. Salt and pepper to taste.
For the radish slaw, combine 1/4 cup sliced red onion and 1/2 cup sliced red radishes with 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice and a few leaves of fresh basil, torn into small pieces. Toss this together and set aside.
Chop up a ripe avocado. Set out some pumpkin seeds. Warm your tortillas over the stove if you like. To help your tacos hold together, you may want to double up (two tortillas per taco), but it’s up to you.
When the sweet potatoes are ready, all you do is assemble: Tortilla(s), sweet potatoes, mushrooms, slaw, avocado, pumpkin seeds, cashew cream. Enjoy!