As promised, here is the recipe for the tacos I made for dinner on Tuesday evening. I’m not going to lie and tell you that this recipe is super quick to make. I realize “slow cooker” makes it sound like a fast recipe but it does require some prep. And it is totally worth it. If you’re busy (who isn’t!?) then it would be wise to put portions of this recipe into your weekly meal prep slot. Then, when you’re ready to have your tacos, you can just chuck it all in the slow cooker and walk away.
There are two things to prepare in advance:
- Taco seasoning – Use my recipe. If you triple the recipe you’ll have enough for other Mexican inspired dishes in the future. Bonus!
- Enchilada sauce – I just couldn’t bring myself to buy premade enchilada sauce. To be honest, I didn’t even try to find it. Sauces in jars freak me out a bit. So many additives and ingredients. I dare you to go to your fridge and find a sauce in a bottle and read the ingredients; I bet you’ll be shocked….alright, I’m getting off track. Just make some enchilada sauce ahead of time. It takes about 15 minutes in total. I use this recipe from my favourite blog, Cookie and Kate. Her recipe makes two cups and you only need one cup for the tacos, so freeze the other half for another recipe. Be sure to follow her instructions, especially the part about having everything ready and right beside the stove before you turn it on. Like Kate says the sauce comes together really quickly and it would be a pity if you burned it.
Let’s talk nutrition for a moment (i.e. time for me to be a geek!):
- Quinoa – this is a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids that the body requires. You’ll recall that proteins are the building blocks of life, so if you’re pregnant you need a lot of protein to ensure your little one is developing properly. Proteins are made up of many amino acids. Essential amino acids refer to ones that the body does not make, and therefore must be acquired through your diet. Animal sources of protein are complete; however, if meat or dairy isn’t your thing, you can also combine foods to make complete proteins (i.e. rice and beans, hummus and bread). Quinoa is one of a handful of plant foods that is a complete protein all on its own.
- Black beans – these little gems are high in fiber, which is great for helping to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and increase bowel movements (because we all know pregnancy can wreak havoc on our digestion!). In this recipe I used organic canned black beans from Costco; this saves time, but the most ideal would be to buy dried beans and soak and cook them beforehand. That wasn’t going to happen in my house this week, so I opted for the canned ones.
A key component of making this recipe extra nutritious is using nutrient dense add-ons when you are building your tacos: avocado, Greek yogurt (a great sour cream replacement), fresh tomatoes, cilantro and fresh greens. I would normally bulk my tacos up with a lot of spinach, but I didn’t have any left from our CSA box this week, so I used a bunch of mixed greens to do the trick. That’s what I love about tacos – so versatile and you can just use whatever you have on hand to make them extra nutritious and delicious!
If you want to make this recipe gluten free, you’ll need to use a gluten free flour mix for the enchilada sauce (if someone does this, let me know how it goes!), and ensure you use real corn tortillas, which are naturally gluten free when made traditionally (read the package ingredients!). These are typically pretty easy to find in the wrap/pita section of the grocery store. Be sure to heat them up in a dry frying pan just before you build your tacos; this will make them more pliable and avoid cracking/falling apart when you fill them. You could even just make a taco salad/bowl and omit the tortillas altogether for another gluten free option!
Full disclosure, I claim this recipe is vegetarian (which it is!) but I used chicken stock instead of vegetable stock because it was all I had on hand. Something to add to my grocery list!
All in all, I’m a big fan of this recipe. I knew it was a good one when my recipe tester husband said “this IS really good” (as if he didn’t believe me until he tried it! Fair enough – sometimes my recipes are big fails! But not this one!). It makes A LOT, so we ate it for dinner for two nights and I put some in the freezer for those nights we don’t feel like cooking, or when John is away for work and I need an easy meal for Henry and I. Plus, I’ve now also got extra enchilada sauce in the freezer and more taco seasoning in the cupboard! These tacos would be great for a potluck, game day, meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, or really ANY day of the week!
I really hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know if it’s a hit in your house!
Slow Cooker Quinoa Tacos
Taco Seasoning: 10 mins
Enchilada Sauce: 15 mins
Slow cooker prep: 10 mins
Cook time: 3-4 hours
- 1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken if you’re ok with it not being vegetarian)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes (with the liquid)
- 1 cup enchilada sauce
- 1 – 1½ cups frozen corn
- 3 Tbsp taco seasoning
Prepare the taco seasoning and enchilada sauce in advance (see links above for the recipes). Put all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and stir until well combined. Put the lid on and cook on high for 3-4 hours. The time will vary depending on your slow cooker; you want the quinoa to be cooked but not mushy. Do not attempt to cook this on low or you’ll have a very mushy taco filling.
Heat corn tortillas in a dry frying pan and top with taco filling, greens, sliced avocado, cheese, extra salsa, tomatoes, cilantro, lime, Greek yogurt or all of the above! Enjoy!