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Good times at La Esquina (before my bangs grew out).

Its 'National Taco Day'! Though I wouldn't consider Mexican food to be a favorite, I do love tacos every now and then. Unfortunately, most of the Mexican restaurants in Manhattan can't compare to the fresh and authentic food that I grew up eating in San Diego and well, Mexico. The main reason that I go to Mexican restaurants here is for the mariachi band and sombreros, after all! When I moved to Los Angeles, I noticed that the Mexican food wasn't as good there, either, and it isn't just because I was further from the border. Tacos are fun and delicious, because you can fill them with a number of different goodies. 

I don't cook much because my kitchen kind of sucks. There, I said it. Its funny that what I pay for an alcove studio in Greenwich Village could get me a two bedroom apartment with a swimming pool and parking garage back in Los Angeles. Hell, I wish I could have a personal trainer since I love being beaten up in workouts, but I'm currently doing it on my own and saving for a VitaMix (they're around $400 and one of the best). Oh, the prices we pay to live in such a fabulous city...hey, its worth it! I can't use my little, old-school kitchen as an excuse to avoid cooking, though, so I'll get more into it and share my "creations" with you lovely people soon. The best way to stay lean is to prepare meals at home more often than dine out so that you know exactly what you're eating and where its from. Plus, there's less temptation (in the kitchen) at home! 

I'm no chef and can't freestyle it much, but I do enjoy cooking and hope to get more comfortable with it. Cooking for others is far more motivating and entertaining than doing it alone, that's for sure! Here are some healthier taco options to celebrate this fine holiday:

Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde

From: The Food Network Kitchen

This looks so good, it makes me want to do "The Macarena"!

Avocado Salsa:
1 small onion, quartered
1 jalapeno, quartered, seeds optional
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 medium tomatillos, (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
1/2 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle or blended chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound medium shrimp (about 20), peeled and deveined
8 corn tortillas
8 sprigs cilantro for garnish
2 limes, cut into wedges

- Put the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor and finely chop. Add the tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.
- Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high. Mix the olive oil, chipotle or chili powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side.
- Grill tortillas, until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Alternatively, wrap in a damp paper towel and heat in a microwave.) Spoon sauce on the tortilla, then top with about 2 or 3 shrimp and a sprig of cilantro. Serve 2 tacos per person, with a lime wedge on the side.
Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

Raw Vegan Tacos
From: Have a Namaste
Raw is always a better choice!


Cashew-Cilantro “Cheese” Sauce (makes 1 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, about 2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, packed
1/4 cup water

Place garlic and salt in food processor and process into small pieces. Add cashews and process into paste. Add lemon juice, cilantro, and water; process to mix well. Set aside.
Ground Walnut Taco “Meat” (makes 1 cup)
1 cup raw walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon liquid aminos, such as Bragg’s  Essential Amino Acids, or soy sauce
Pinch of sea salt, to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor and process until the mixture looks like ground meat. Do not over process.
To make tacos: Place 2 tablespoons each of cashew sauce and walnut filling into a romaine leaf. Top with natural salsa and avocado slices. Wrap and serve.

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