I Know This Because I Am One, and I Love This Stuff
By: Mary Pat Baldauf
I’ve been eating healthier for about five years now. I best describe my “diet” as simple clean eating: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food. I love eating this way, but do occasionally miss some of those comfort foods we all know and love.
That all changed when I tried a recipe for Cheesy Taco Bake from a now defunct website called The Naked Kitchen. The best way to describe this recipe? A healthy “Hamburger Helper,” without the hamburger. Double this for freezing! Your kids and/or picky eaters will LOVE it; I know because I have a palate of a six-year-old.
Warning: There’s a little upfront work with this recipe as you must pre-make the enchilada sauce and taco seasoning. However, once you make both, you’ll have plenty to use for several batches. In a hurry? You can always use store-bought enchilada sauce and taco seasoning.
Cheesy Taco Bake
(Makes 8-10 servings)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 6 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp Taco Seasoning *
- 4 heaping tbsp Homemade Enchilada Sauce **
- 1 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 small onion, diced (Being the picky eater I am, I skip the onions and use onion powder instead.)
- 1 can (15 ounces) no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
- 7 ounces organic firm tofu (you can also substitute with quinoa or any other protein source)
- 8 ounces whole grain pasta of choice, cooked
- 1/2 cup croutons, finely crushed
- 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
- 4-6 ounces shredded cheese
* Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 12 ounces no salt added tomato paste
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- sea salt to taste
** Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot add the flour, reduce heat to low and stir until completely dissolved.
- Add in the enchilada sauce and broth. Stir well and then add the nutritional yeast and taco seasoning. Mix well, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan add 1 tbsp broth and heat over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent.
- While the onions are cooking, use a fork and mash the tofu into small crumbles. Add the crumbled tofu and black beans to the pan and stir well. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl add the cooked pasta and rice, the onion, bean and tofu mixture, and the cheesy enchilada sauce. Stir well and transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
- Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top (if using) and then the croutons. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.