Thirty Minute Thursdays: How to Make a Healthy, Homemade Taco Bowl

I was determined not to write about a Mexican-themed Thirty Minute Thursday recipe today, just to prove that I could. That is, until I realized that it being the Thursday before Cinco de Mayo, it was actually the one Thursday where it would be most appropriate to write just that. Go figure. Luckily for us all, I have an arsenal of recipes - many of which from Rachael Ray's cookbook - that fit the bill, so if you're still looking for that special Cinco de Mayo recipe, I hope this will end your search.

This recipe for a Baked Taco Bowl is by far the loosest interpretation of a Rachael Ray recipe on this blog yet. I took her recipe for refried beans (which is actually just a doctored up version of the canned stuff - though if you're looking for a genuine recipe for refried beans, I've used this one before and found it both easy and delicious), and then built a meal around it. I saw a "recipe" on Pinterest for a baked tortilla bowl, and thought this was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot. To both of those components I added enough vegetables to please even the most ardent veggie lover, and topped it all off with a dollop of plain greek-yogurt as a healthier alternative to sour cream.

It's entirely possible that in the very moment that I took my first bite of this meal, I died and flew right up to heaven. It's creamy, crunchy, spicy, refreshing, filling, satisfying - all kinds of delicious, I'm telling you. I think I should have baked the tortilla a little bit longer (mine was not quite as crunchy as one that is deep fried, and I think my own impatience is to blame), but aside from that, I really wouldn't change a thing. It's so much better than any taco bowl or salad or shell you get at a restaurant, and it's something you can feel good about eating, too. Even if you already have your meal figured out for Saturday, make this on Sunday, or Monday, or make it every day for the next week because once you taste it, you won't want to wait to have it again.

One Year Ago: Chicken Florentine
Two Years Ago: “Happy Biscuits” (soft sugar cookies)

Baked Taco Bowl
This individually-portioned vegetarian meal is a vibrant, healthy alternative to the taco salads you find at many Mexican-American restaurants around the country. Plus, it has so much flavor and contrasting textures, it will put those restaurant versions to shame.

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes

The Ingredients
1 teaspoon canola oil
¼ onion, thinly sliced
¼ orange bell pepper, sliced
⅓ cup vegetarian refried beans with green chilies
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ jalapeno pepper, diced
1 whole grain tortilla wrap
½ tomato, chopped
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped or shredded
¼ avocado, sliced
2 tablespoons plain, nonfat greek yogurt

The Method
Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit and lightly grease a small-medium glass (oven-proof) mixing bowl with oil or nonstick spray (I used a little bit of oil).

Heat the canola oil in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saut̩, stirring occasionally, until soft, caramelized, and perhaps slightly charred Рroughly 10 minutes. Remove from the pan.

To the pan you just used, add the refried beans, garlic powder, and diced jalapeno. Lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are well combined and warm.

Meanwhile, press the tortilla down into the prepared bowl to help mold it into a bowl shape and brush the inside very lightly with canola oil. Bake in the preheated oven for at least 15 minutes but preferably a little longer, removing only when it is golden-brown and crisp. Remove it from the bowl and allow it to cool slightly.

To assemble: place the beans at the base of the tortilla bowl and layer with lettuce, saut̩ed onions and peppers, tomato, and avocado. Top it all off with a dollop of yogurt and serve alongside a handful of napkins Рenjoy!

Source, inspired by: Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals (cookbook)

And be sure to come back on Saturday for a special Cinco de Mayo post featuring all of the Mexican-inspired recipes from the blog archives!

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