I really, really love Mexican food, but when I tell people this, they look at me like I am a crazy person. You like deep fried-rich-meat-cheesiness? No, obviously not. Mexican food from a Sarah B. perspective is a perfectly ripe avocado, a rainbow of beans, fresh herbs, spicy chilies, tangy citrus, and tropical fruits! That’s a whole lotta goodness goin’ on.
After my juice fast (feeling awesome, thanks for asking), I like to keep things fresh and raw-food based for at least a week. That being said, I also like to treat myself to something that totally rocks to reward myself for completing yet another successful detox. But I cannot tell a lie: the things I fantasize about eating while not eating anything at all can get rather elaborate, so during my week of pure liquids, a crazy Mexican craving completely took over my psyche and wouldn’t let go. I was a total taco prisoner with no key. Help!
Once my digestion was strong enough to handle the taco bomb that was undoubtedly to ensue, I got to work on a spectacular recipe that would finally put my cravings to rest. Combining what I felt were the best elements of Mexican fare, the Raw Taco was born and will surely live on in my kitchen for years to come. A spicy raw walnut mix is the protein base and looks almost too much like ground beef for my liking (seriously, I was doing double-takes all through lunch), topped with fresh, tangy salsa, smooth avocado slices, and a cashew sour cream-inspired sauce for kicks. Wrap it all up in a cabbage, collard, or giant spinach leaf, and you have successfully replaced your Old El Paso taco-in-a-box forever. He never really loved you anyway.
Walnuts look like brains for a reason
The reason being that they are good for your brain. Go figure.
On the tip-top of the healthy nut list, walnuts are loaded with Omega-3 essential fatty acids. In fact, a measly ¼ cup serving is 94% of your daily recommended intake! Grab a handful and you’ve made your quota.
Omega-3 fats are an extremely important nutrient that unfortunately, most of our diets are extremely deficient in. This deficiency has been linked to a whole host of problems including hyperactivity in children and disorders of the nervous system, PMS, difficulty getting pregnant or carrying to full term, low male hormones and prostate problems, endocrine disorders, auto-immune dysfunctions, and inflammation.
But getting back to the whole “brain” thing, Omega-3s are also critical for brain health and regulation of emotions and mood. Here’s how that works:
More than 60% of your brain is fat. That fat comes from the food you eat. If the kinds of fat you eat are solid and highly saturated (think lard, butter etc.) the membranes of the cells in your brain will in turn be solid and sticky, making it very difficult for nutrients to flow in and wastes to flow out. Omega-3 fats (from flax seeds, walnuts, hemp) are especially fluid and flexible, maximizing your brain cells’ ability to usher the good stuff in and eliminate the bad. This is pretty critical when it comes to how you think, how you feel, how you behave, your memory, judgment, problem-solving capabilities and all things cognitive. If that doesn’t make you want to run to the next walnut, I am not sure you will ever be convinced.
Because Omega-3 essential fatty acids are so susceptible to spoilage, it is always best to keep the foods that contain them, like walnuts, in the fridge. Flax seed oil, an even better source of this amazing nutrient must be kept cold to retain its properties (freeze that stuff – it won’t solidify!), and never, EVER cook with it. Deal? Great.
Inspired by Matt Amsden’s recipe in Rawvolution
Yes, I’ll admit that the ingredient list for this recipe seems rather long, but trust me, it’s worth it. Everything comes together surprisingly fast and if you’re really pressed for time, just make what you can. The important thing to try here is the Walnut Taco Mix, because even if you don’t get around to the other stuff, you will be blown away by how tasty and satisfying it is. Use it in other recipes too – and maybe replace that ground beef for a change?
Walnut Taco Mix
1 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbsp. nama shoyu (raw, unpasteurized soy sauce)
1/8 tsp. ground chipotle pepper (or more if you like it spicy!)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse just to mix. Don’t over-blend, or you will end up with walnut butter!
Cashew “Sour Cream”
½ cup raw cashews
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
5 Tbsp. water (approx.)
1. Put all ingredients except water in a high speed blender or food processor and blend, adding water one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If you want a thick cream, use less water, for a thinner sauce, use more. (You will not achieve a perfectly smooth sauce with a food processor, but it is still delicious!)
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
½ red bell pepper, chopped fine
½ orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped fine
½ red onion or 4 green onions, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ clove garlic, minced
juice of ½ lime
1 tsp. raw honey
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt
1. Whisk the garlic, lime juice, honey, olive oil and sea salt in the bottom of a bowl and set aside.
2. Cut up the veggies into rather small pieces, chop the cilantro and add everything to the dressing bowl. Fold to combine and let sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.
Other Raw Taco elements:
ripe avocados (about ½ per person)
cabbage, collard, kale, romaine, or spinach leaves
limes for squeezing
extra cilantro for sprinkling
This is the kind of recipe that truly blows the unhealthy competition out of the water and convinces me to never look back. Let’s face it, eating healthy can be a challenge, but when it tastes this good, gives you this much energy, feeds your brain in the best way possible, what’s the excuse for reaching for that deep fried taco shell filled with all-kinds-of-crazy again?
I wish someone had been there to see me take my first bites – I was laughing out loud, alone in my kitchen. Loco. Luckily, I convinced my friend Trine there to hit up round II with me. She went cross-eyed and giggled.
ps – hey friends, you know what else is a great source of Omega-3 fats? The Raw Brownie. Just sayin’.
source: Lynne Hinton & Tracy McBurney. Nutritional Symptomatology.