To Bean, Or Not To Bean... - Cooking with Cacti (Adventures in healthier cooking) Blog at - 255658

Cooking with Cacti (Adventures in healthier cooking)

To Bean, or Not To Bean... 
Nov. 2, 2011 8:35 pm 
Updated: Nov. 3, 2011 6:52 am
That is the Question!

I admit it -- I love meat, particularly red meat.  I'm a carnivore and proud of it!  So I am always a bit suspect of "vegans" and their meat-free ways.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good salad, and I've even gone meatless for a day (but those days are few and far between).  However, I have embarked on an "adventure in healthier eating," which means I am spending more time perusing to find healthy things to try.  And so today, I stumbled upon this: Vegan Bean Taco Filling.  Now normally, being the meat-lover I am, I would have skipped over that in a heartbeat, but I want to have more heartbeats and so I gave it a once-over.  It had lots of things I liked, and the usual suspects for a taco filling -- cumin, chili powder, cayenne, onions and bell peppers.  What it lacked was meat.  The meat was replaced with black beans.  I like black beans okay, but I've never once considered using it to replace good ol' ground beef... EVER.  But I was intrigued, and the reviews were pretty good.

And about lunchtime, my wife calls.  She is on her way home, and is going to stop by the store for some basics.

"Do I need anything?"

I don't know what came over me, but I started to rattle off the ingredients for this recipe.  My wife, a bit confused, asks, "Are you going to take over the weekday cooking too?"  She needn't worry, her cooking time is secure.  I'm just experimenting with new things as I come across them.  Being a loving, patient partner for life that she is, she bought all the things I asked for without a complaint or anything.  I think she was probably giggling to herself, to be honest.

When I get home, I proceed to pull up the recipe and get to work.  I followed the recipe with two very minor exceptions.  1) I used a few sprays of cooking spray instead of the olive oil.  2) I did NOT use 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper.  Had I used that much cayenne, my wife would have probably spit it out and divorced me on the spot; she has little tolerance for hot, spicy foods.  Valuing my marriage, I used just a couple dashes of cayenne.  You can always add more for personal tastes, but you can't take it out.

These things are healthy.  For reference, 3 taco shells with this filling is healthier than one of those 6" subs you can buy at a national sub sandwich chain.  Adding the toppings: diced tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, light sour cream, a bit of mexican mix shredded cheese, and some diced avocado -- you end up about the same as the sub sandwich.  To kick mine up a notch, I put a few dashes of Smoked Chipotle Tabasco Sauce on my tacos as well.  This added a bit of smokiness as well as a bit more heat than my wife likes.  Along with this, my wife bought some microwave brown rice, to which she added a little salsa for a more healthy spanish rice.

But how do they taste?  To my surprise, these things were very good!  The filling looks a lot like ground beef, although the texture is a bit different.  The various spices do a good job of bridging from meat to bean, and you might not even notice it is not beef except for the lack of grease running down your hand.

Don't get too excited, I'm not going vegan.  If you ever hear me say that I am, you can call the shrink because I most certainly will have lost my mind.  But, I will use this again in the future, and if you have ever thought about making a meatless meal that doesn't seem meatless, I would definitely suggest you have a "Taco Nite" and use this instead of ground beef or even ground turkey/chicken.

I guess the answer to the question is... To Bean!
Nov. 2, 2011 10:16 pm
I would not be a vegan if you paid me! Red meat run through my veins along with Dodger Blue. I am married to to a man who LOVES beans! After 21 years, I am still not all that crazy about them unless they are BBQ ed and got pork in them. Your addition of chipotle pepper sauce should be it's own food group. Love it on just about everything. I will give you this, beans Are extremely healthy for you! Try making a burrito with them and adding mashed up sweet potatoes. Sounds odd, the recipe is on here but they were really good! And for ya! Thanks for going out of your comfort zone and trying something new and sharing your thoughts on it. GO MEAT!! lol
Nov. 3, 2011 5:22 am
My nineteen yr old daughter has been a vegetarian since she was 8 yrs old - she does eat dairy & eggs. She loves to replace meat w/beans bc she doesn't care for most "fake" meat products. I keep canned beans in the house all the time and she adds them to salads, tacos, soups. I like a spoonful of black beans on my taco salad...along with the beef :o)
Nov. 3, 2011 5:24 am
My daughter will even order beans in place of the meat at the local mexican rest. and they always oblige her. The first time a new waiter brought her bean-instead-of-meat dish to her, he stood by to watch her try it and asked "that is good? you like?" LOL
Nov. 3, 2011 6:52 am
dried peas and beans have always been a part of the diet, and replaces meat when it was not readily available. "A Handbook for Overland Expeditions" was the manual for westward migration, it was Originally published in 1859. I could forgo red meat, I have done it when I was in the army, and I was In Korea, and Germany and my wife stayed here in the states. My wife on the other hand wants red meat in her meals.
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About Me
I've been cooking since I was a young kid, and have always enjoyed cooking (and eating) a good meal. Grew up in The South, but my family was all from the north; I have always loved Southern foods, but I like a very wide variety of things. Cooking is a way for me to relax, be creative, and try new things.
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My favorite food is soup -- any kind of soup really, I have yet to find one I wouldn't eat! Soup is easy and you can always tweak a recipe for personal tastes by simply mixing up the spices or adding some things. And a good bowl of warm soup is just great on a chilly day! I also enjoy grilling (what man doesn't?), and if there is a way to cook it on a grill, either I have tried it, or I am willing to give it a go!
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