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whole food ~ well made

Sweet potato pinto bean tacos at lynnecurry.com.

3 Simple Strategies to Eat Better This Year + Sweet Potato Tacos

Is there anyone who doesn’t resolve (whether or not they label it a resolution) to eat better at the start of a new year?

In the past eating right had a simpler meaning–more whole grains and leafy green vegetables, less refined sugar and saturated fats. Food pyramid stuff. Nutritional equations with (fairly) definite answers.

These days the quest to eat right has a staggering level of complexity. There are so many rules you can choose to follow–and many diets, like clean eating, are loaded with judgement.

On top of that, it’s not just a matter of what we eat, but where it comes from, who produced it and how they were treated and compensated, how far the food traveled. And when it comes to animal products how these living creatures lived and died…

Eating choices are now a multi-dimentional matrix and we’re still left wondering: How do I eat what’s right?

Sweet potato pinto bean tacos at lynnecurry.com.

All I know is that there is no pure or perfect food; there is no perfect diet. But there is a way to be well nourished, to eat well. It’s why I write this blog and how I try to feed my family.

Here are three principles I’m striving to live by in the year ahead. None of them is a solution to the conundrum of the eating choices we face, but each is a step that feels, right now, like resolve:

  1. Shop Less
  2. Use What I Have
  3. Cook Simply

Shop Less

Do I go to the supermarket more often than I need to? What am I buying on a regular basis that my family could live without? What can I make instead of buy?

We’ve cut way back on boxed cereals, but we’re still addicted to chips, crackers and other snacks. Granola and energy bars have been on my list to make instead of buy for school sports and hiking trip. Jerky, too. And I have the raw ingredients to make these items from scratch instead of going to the store. The time is now.

Use What I Have

Do I have foods in my pantry gathering dust? How can I build a meal around one or two items I have on hand? What’s taking up space in the cupboards and, more importantly, the freezer?

I clean out my clothes closet every spring and fall, but I have nori in the pantry that’s as old as my eldest daughter. The paella rice and the millet are also neglected. What am I waiting for? All it takes is to plan a few meals to use up these overlooked foods. It also means less spending!

Cook Simply

Do I need to cook like I’m on Top Chef? Can I make a locally grown organic potato the mainstay of a meal? Can I be satisfied with doing less?

Having kids certainly put the kibosh on fancy cooking, but we all love to eat and appreciate great flavors. I don’t think that any of that needs to be sacrificed for the sake of simplicity. Soups, stews, stir fries, pasta dishes…there is no limit to the satisfying dinners to make with a few solid techniques.

Sweet potato pinto bean tacos at lynnecurry.com.

Case in Point: Sweet Potato Tacos

Here’s a meal that puts to use all three principles. Since it uses ingredients I have on hand–sweet potatoes and pinto beans–I don’t need to go to the store.

I love the flavor combination of sweet potatoes and whole pinto beans. Together, they create a taco filling with great texture, too.

Sweet potato pinto bean tacos at lynnecurry.com.

Forage readers know that I’ve usually got a pot of beans on hand for turning into soup, chili, stew or a quick bean dip. I also often bake sweet potatoes for a quick lunch. Or, in a pinch, I can microwave them.

And ever since I started making my own corn tortillas {and getting better with each practice session}, none of us wants to go back to store bought corn tortillas.

And the creamy topping of avocado blended with sour cream and a pinch of salt is a great way to use up a less-than-perfect or overripe avocado. So, all in all, this is an easy, inexpensive meal that not only nourishes my family on the fly but also cuts down on our food waste.

And if eating less meat is also on your list of new food intentions for 2019, this sweet potato taco recipe checks off that goal, too.

What’s not to love about all that? Here’s to a fulfilling year!

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What are your best food intentions for the new year? Let me know in the comments below or tag a photo #lynnesforage on Instagram or Facebook.

Sweet Potato Pinto Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema

The combination of diced sweet potatoes and whole pinto beans makes for a wonderful and unexpected taco filling. Spiced with a mild homemade taco seasoning, it’s perfect for a Meatless Monday meal or use it as a filling for burritos to go. Bake the sweet potatoes in advance or microwave in minutes until just fork tender.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword sweet potato tacos
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained
  • 1 tablespoon pure chile powder see Recipe Notes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 small ripe avocado, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • corn tortillas, for serving
  • drumbled cojita or feta cheese optional
  • chopped scallions, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving

Instructions

  1. To bake the sweet potato, pierce it in several places with a fork. Place directly on the rack in a 400-degrees F oven and bake until just fork tender, about 40 minutes. For a quick alternative, microwave using the “potato” function but remove a minute or two before the timer to catch it when it’s just fork tender. Cool, peel and dice the potato.

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

  3. Add the diced sweet potato, whole pinto beans along with the chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano and salt and stir to coat them well in the spice mixture. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, combine the avocado and sour cream in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and taste for seasoning. Set aside.

  5. Heat the tortillas and spoon a portion of the sweet potato-pinto bean mixture into each one. Top with the avocado cream as well as the cheese, scallion and cilantro as desired.

Recipe Notes

Pure chile powder: Unlike chili powder, which a premixed spice blend, pure chile powder is dried and ground from a single type of pepper. Since I keep dried peppers on hand, I just tear, de-seed and blend up something mild, like New Mexico chiles or Ancho chiles, in my spice grinder until finely ground.

You can substitute 2 tablespoons of your favorite chili powder blend in this recipe to replace all the seasonings.

 

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