Trio of Veggie Mexican Tacos


I can’t tell share this recipe without mentioning my sluggish thyroid, so if you want to skip over the next little bit and just head to the recipe, here’s the most important tidbit about these tacos that you need to know: when these tacos were tested, I sat in my dining room and ate 7 of them. Seven.  

So here goes…

An estimated 20 million Americans have some sort of thyroid disease. One in eight women will develop some sort of thyroid disorder during her lifetime.* Those numbers are overwhelming when you think about how this is a disease that I believe we don’t yet fully understand. For example, just now, 13 years after my thyroid “adventure” began, have I found myself discussing the foods I eat with my doctors. When I was first diagnosed, my lifestyle wasn’t even a part of the conversation!

To begin with, let me be clear and start with an obvious disclaimer. I am not a doctor (and you should not take medical advice from a lady that makes enchiladas on TV for a living!). But I do think it’s relevant that I share my story because I’m one of those very frustrated Americans out there who has thyroid disease. Mine started with Graves and an overactive thyroid. Long story short: I weighed about 90 pounds, my eyes were bulging out of my sockets and my heart was about to jump out of my chest. Good times. For an entire year, I went through the gamut on tests – and yet somehow during that time, none of my doctors even thought to check my thyroid levels.

I remember that I didn’t know what to think… bouncing between operating at an extremely high energy level and being completely knocked out, dead-to-the-world asleep on my sister’s couch... I even ended up with a psychiatrist who said some antidepressants would do the trick. I politely excused myself and told him I’d ask for a second opinion. He had to be wrong because that was, what I felt, the happiest time of my life. By the way, at that point, I was a year into motherhood and breastfeeding and (don’t hate me) motherhood was a breeze for me. I enjoyed every second! I felt like I was born to breastfeed and mother and co-sleep and make humans. I knew I wasn’t depressed and the ailment felt very, very physical.

So, after a year of fruitless tests, I found myself in the ER, where the tests identified my (highly) over-active thyroid. It was recommended that I take radioactive iodine to eradicate my thyroid immediately. I took the iodine pill and quarantined myself for the required week away from my son and family. Oh, and funny side-story, every time I crossed the international border into San Diego, I would set off all of the bomb-sensitive alarms because I was, literally, radioactive. I’d be sent to secondary inspection and they’d make me get out of the car so they could check me with a sensor gun and the beeping would reach insanity levels when the sensor gun got close to my neck. When they realized I didn’t have a bomb in the car they’d let me go. They knew the drill. After 6 months of this, I became friends with all the Border Patrol agents. Anyway, as expected, and because they “killed” most of my thyroid, I became hypothyroid and needed medication to make up for my now-non-existent thyroid hormones. And it’s been a bumpy ride. Levels seem fine in bloodwork but the levels of exhaustion, hair-loss, dry skin and just bad mood persist. Well, unless (and this is a very big unless) I cut out certain foods.

In truth, I see Philip mentally prepare himself every time I put a piece of pizza in my mouth because he knows what’s coming. He’s a saint, though; he never says anything. He just knows he’ll have to man the fort soon after, because I end up useless. I’ll need a nap and I’ll probably be cranky… and eventually I’ll recover and all he’ll say is, “you’re just very sensitive, my love.” On second thought, if it was the other way around and it was ME watching HIM eat something that I knew would harm him, I would probably smack him in the face with that very pizza. Ha! I think that’s why we work: one of us has to be sensible and sane. That would be him.

So THIS is where Paleo or close-to-Paleo comes in. By the way, I in no way endorse any diet or lifestyle change, but it just so happens that when I follow certain rules my energy levels double. DOUBLE. But there’s a catch; I don’t follow a strict Paleo because I pay very close attention to what my body can handle. I can totally handle dairy (there’s cheese in the tortillas) and I do small amounts of corn every once in awhile (there’s corn in the rajas). It took a long time to realize this and that our bodies are just too different to think that there’s just one solution that will work for all of us!

 I laugh because I’m sure Marla, my assistant, likes it when I eat the pizza. When I’m clean and disciplined, I tend to be on 24/7. Lots of energy. Lots of emails at off-hours. Lots of ideas and plans and activities. And then I’ll eat a pizza and be out for a whole day.

But, man, when these came out of the test kitchen the other day, I nearly died because they are so satisfying in the way that only the foods that make me feel crappy are satisfying. Tortillas made out of zucchini? Rajas made out of cashew cream? What is this blasphemous food? It’s amazing, that’s what it is.

So anyway, it’s a trio of tacos and it may seem a little labor intensive but here’s the trick; you can make a gazillion tortillas and freeze them and make the sauces on Monday and use throughout the week. And for a weeknight dinner, just pick your favorite filling instead of making all three!

It’s crazy how much you guys request the healthier versions of Mexican foods, so here you go; this is definitely one of my favorite recipes to come out of the test kitchen. And look at how pretty it is! Enjoy!

*American Thyroid Association


Trio of Veggie Mexican Tacos

(8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil, plus extra for greasing

  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

  • 6 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced

  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 cobs) or frozen, thawed

  • 2 cups cashew cream (recipe follows)

  • 1 minced garlic clove

  • 1 cup peeled, cubed sweet potato

  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder

  • 2 cups chopped, stemmed kale

  • 3 sliced portabello mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

  • Jalapeño-cilantro cashew cream (recipe follows)

  • Zucchini tortillas (recipe follows)


Creamed poblano filling:


In a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Add onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add corn and poblano peppers. Continue cooking to blend flavors, about 5 minutes longer. Add 2 cups cashew cream to mixture and let simmer until thick, about 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.



Chipotle kale sweet potato filling:

Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and sauté. Add chipotle powder and mix with a spatula and continue cooking sweet potatoes until they start to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add kale to pan and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer until kale slightly wilts. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.



Portobello mushroom filling:

In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Add portobello slices and cook until they start to soften for about 5 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 more minutes to thicken balsamic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Grab a zucchini tortilla (recipe followed) and top with your favorite filling. For portobello taco drizzle some jalapeño cilantro cashew cream.

Zucchini tortillas:


Ingridients:

  • 4 cups coarsely grated zucchini

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coarse black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Directions:


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove as much moisture as possible from grated zucchini. Using a cheesecloth or kitchen towel, place zucchini in towel and squeeze in order to remove excess liquid (removing the extra moisture will help make your tortillas stick together better when baking). In a large bowl, place zucchini, egg, mozzarella, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Mix until are ingredients are combined.

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper and grease with coconut oil. Grab an ice cream scooper and scoop zucchini mixture on to parchment paper. Press zucchini down on baking pan into a thin circle. Tortilla should be about 5 inches wide. Repeat this step for the rest of the mixture. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Tortillas begin to look brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool. Gently peel tortillas from baking sheet.

Cashew Cream:


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews

  • 2 cups water, add more water depending on consistency desired


Directions:

Soak cashews in water for about 3 hours. Strain cashews. Do not discard water; it will be used. Add cashews to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Gradually add water and continue to blend depending on consistency desired for cream.

Jalapeño Cilantro Cashew Cream Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews

  • 2 cups water, add more water depending on consistency desired

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded

  • 1 cup cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon lime zest

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste


Directions


Soak cashews in water for about 3 hours. Strain cashews. Do not discard water, it will be used. Add cashews to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Gradually add water and continue to blend depending on consistency desired for cream. Add jalapeño, cilantro, and lime zest to cream and continue to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.



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