Dive into the world of healthy recipes from April's family kitchen. They are delicious, healthy and simple recipes for the whole family! Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on a mission to show people how to reverse prediabetes and lose weight with an anti-diet approach using whole-foods and personalized nutrition plans. You can Love Carbs and Lose Weight!
This post was sponsored by the California Prune Board. This post contains no affiliate links.
An Easy Vegan Taco Salad sounds right up my alley these days for 2 reasons:
I love tacos (who doesn’t?)
They’re meat free
I’m slowly (oh so slowly) transitioning away from meat for different reasons – (all personal, of course because food choice is a personal choice.) And I’m all about finding recipes that promise taco-like goodness in a meat-free form.
Plus, I find the unique combination of this “taco mixture” so yummy: sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts and the secret ingredient – wait for it…California prunes!
I developed this recipe from one I found in a Clean Eating magazine about a year ago. I ripped the page out of the magazine and put it in the “to make” pile. It’s a big pile so I’m just getting to it now.
When I told my husband I was inspired by a meat-free taco recipe and was going to use prunes as an ingredient, not one to mince words, he asks, “won’t that taste awful?”
I had to quickly defend my choice, but I wasn’t really sure it was going to work out. Needless to say, this was an experiment, as recipe development tends to be. Some you win, and some you don’t (see my attempt at vegan flourless chocolate torte. It tasted like a quiche with cocoa powder. I’ll keep working on that one.)
I love having prunes on-hand (I keep them on the counter in a mason jar) because they’re healthy, naturally sweet, good for digestion, and even support bone health, which is pretty cool.
Since my mom was over this weekend for her 74th (!) birthday, I made sure she was doing her resistance training (3 times a week) and let her know to add prunes to snacks and meals because they’re high in vitamin K and are a source of manganese.
The combination of these two nutrients contribute to the maintenance of normal bones. In fact, post-menopausal woman can actually help to slow bone loss by consuming a serving of 5 to 6 prunes daily. Good to know – and good for Nana to practice.
Plus, the fibre in the prunes keeps gut bacteria nice and happy
So back to these meat-free tacos that turned out sooooo good…
I also love that you can make the mixture up to 3 days before you plan to actually eat it – which is exactly what I did.
In this recipe, I chose iceberg lettuce for crunch and hydration, but you could use romaine, even spinach.
And it’s all about the toppings when putting a taco together: pico de gallo, guacamole, lime, cilantro.
This recipe is great because it packs well, too – great for a lunch on-the-go. I made up a container of the salad for supper at 2pm and generally felt like a rockstar.
I’m not going to say it takes like beef, because it doesn’t (obviously) but for the mouthfeel and satiety of a vegan meal? It’s dang delicious. And hubby likes it too, noting the hint of sweetness from the prunes. Yay this one’s a keeper!
I hope you try this Easy Vegan Taco Salad and love it.
Easy Vegan Taco Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed tomatoes, not the ones in oil)
1/3 cup California prunes
2 cups cremini mushrooms
1 cup unsalted walnuts
1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 yellow pepper (sliced)
1/2 head ice berg lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes (chopped)
Whole grain tortilla chips
pico de gallo
Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a glass bowl (or other heat-proof bowl) and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes until they’re softened. Drain.
2. To a Ninja or food processor, add the dried tomatoes, prunes, mushrooms, walnuts, soy sauce, coriander, cumin and salt. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
3. If serving right away, assemble salads on individual plates: add lettuce, chopped tomatoes, yellow peppers and a scoop of the taco mixture. Add desired toppings (guacamole, pico de gallo, cilantro, and limes.)
I’ve served this for supper on a platter and we just all dig in with the chips and/or forks.
If you need to make it ahead, the taco mixture will keep up to 3 days in the fridge before you want to serve it.
Not eating for days at a time? Not my idea of fun but intermittent fasting is hot.
Not a new practice generally speaking (by a long shot) but new to the “diet industry”, intermittent fasting is one of the trendier diet fads out there.
Maybe you’ve already heard the claims that intermittent fasting (or IF) can help you drop weight fast, crush sugar cravings and control your blood sugars.
So what’s the scoop?
Well, if you’re not totally clear on what IF is, it’s basically a way of eating that involves significantly reducing the number of meals eaten either each day or a few days of the week, which results in a net caloric deficit throughout the week.
So can it help you lose weight and reverse prediabetes?
The answer is…maybe. If you can stick to it.
But no more than any other strategy that result in you taking in fewer calories than you need.
Intermittent fasting is basically a way of eating that involves significantly reducing the number of meals eaten either each day or a few days of the week, to result in a net caloric deficit throughout the week.
For a complete run down on all the different types of IF, check out this stellar article from Examine.com
Practically speaking, I’ve seen some people try it for a few weeks (at most) but then typically find that it’s just not an easy way to eat and live life.
With all the variations of IF out there, it’s tough to study its effectiveness. Although there is some research that points to its potential benefits, and potential downsides.
For example, there’s a few studies that show it may be harmful for people with type 2 diabetes with one study showing an impaired blood sugar response in people with type 2 diabetes (2).
This basically means that as your insulin should be coming out to take care of the glucose (sugar) that’s coming into your blood stream, it’s not doing a very good job. So the glucose stays in your blood stream, which is not a good thing.
In my version of Modified Daily Fasting, you aim to get a 13-14 hour fast each day. So, for example, a typical "fast" would be from 6pm - 7am.
A review published in 2014, looked at the differences between intermittent fasting vs. calorie restriction on the prevention of type 2 diabetes by analyzing the research published to date (3).
The authors found intermittent fasting can caused a weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks, which was not significant from traditional caloric restriction methods.
The authors of the review suggested these preliminary findings showed promising results for the use of IF as an alternative to more traditional “calorie restriction” for weight loss and type 2 diabetes risk reduction in overweight and obese populations, but more research would be needed.
So what to do?
If you want to add the potential benefits of intermittent fasting to your eating plan but you’re not interested in doing anything extreme, here’s what I’d suggest: a Modified Daily Fast.
With modified daily fasting, you have a better chance of getting the benefits of a free and clear blood stream for the maximum amount of time, without the inconvenience of not being able to eat all day.
In my version, you aim to get a 13-14 hour fast each day. So, for example, a typical “fast” would be from 6pm – 7am.
This allows your body to do a few things:
Clear the glucose from your blood stream from your main meal
Helps to reduce the strain on your pancreas by lowering the total amount of insulin needed for the full 24-hour period
And helps your body switch to burning fat in the evening, not using any new glucose that would have normally come into the body
When you have prediabetes, I always recommend finding a way to reduce the strain on the pancreas.
It can be taxing on the pancreas to be constantly pumping out insulin to cover glucose coming into the blood stream. When you give the pancreas a good break every day, you allow the beta cells of the pancreas a nice rest and potentially, help to delay the progression to type 2 diabetes.
When you’re the kind of person who wants to do anything and everything reasonably possible to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, a strategy like modified daily fasting may be something you’ll want to try on for size.
If you think this strategy could be helpful for you, let me know in the comments below if you’re curious to try it out.
Hugs and high fives,
PS Like any lifestyle change, be sure to commit to a trial process. Generally speaking, I recommend a good 8-12 weeks of a trial period for any intervention before you can really say yay or nay if it’s useful for you or not.
Jakubowicz D (2015). Fasting until noon triggers increased postprandial hyperglycemia and impaired insulin response after lunch and dinner in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care. Oct;38(10):1820-6. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0761. Epub 2015 Jul 28.
Barnosky, A et al (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research; Vol 164, Issue 4: 302-311
2. Jakubowicz D (2015). Fasting until noon triggers increased postprandial hyperglycemia and impaired insulin response after lunch and dinner in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care. Oct;38(10):1820-6. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0761. Epub 2015 Jul 28.