Tacos were actually our first successful home-cooked low-sodium meal two years ago. We licked our fingers clean and rubbed our bellies and patted ourselves on the back and have been making some version of them every one to two weeks since. This version is vegetarian and has our favorite source of vegetarian protein, black beans. It can easily be made vegan if you use vegan cheese or skip the cheese altogether.
We always use corn tortillas; they have much less sodium than flour tortillas. I prefer hard shell tacos and I fry mine in a pan with a little bit of oil. I have yet to perfect my method — I never seem to get the temperature and time ratio right — but they’re still always better and less likely to fall apart than store-bought hard shell tacos, even when I accidentally dry them out. The only constant I’ve noticed is that the fresher they are, the less likely I am to screw them up. My husband toasts his tortillas in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. Check the tips section for more explicit instructions on how I heat them up.
Low-sodium black bean, mushroom, and avocado tacos
Serves 2 people
- 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
- freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- crushed red chili pepper, to taste
- two fresh basil leaves, chopped into small pieces
- half of an avocado, cubed
- freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
- 1/4 cup (10g) salad greens of your choice, chopped
- grated cheddar cheese, to taste
- a handful of shiitake mushrooms (45g-60g), rinsed and sliced
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 can (425g) black beans
- 6 corn tortillas (3 per person)
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped tomato with freshly-ground pepper, crushed red chili pepper, and the basil.
- In another small bowl, combine the cubed avocado with freshly-ground pepper and lime juice.
- Set the table with the seasoned tomato bowl, the seasoned avocado bowl, a small bowl containing the greens, and a small bowl containing the grated cheese.
- In a medium-sized pan, heat over medium heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Stirring occasionally, cook the mushrooms until tender, about 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, drain half of the liquid from the can of beans. Puree the beans to your desired texture using a blender (hand-blenders are great here); we like our beans slightly chunky. Transfer the beans to a medium-sized pan and heat them up over medium heat. If they start to simmer before everything else is ready, reduce the heat to low. If they thicken too much for your liking, thin it out by stirring in some olive oil.
- Heat up the tortillas in a toaster oven or by frying them in a large pan (see the tips section). Once they are heated, wrap them in aluminum foil to keep them warm.
- Transfer the cooked mushrooms and beans to serving dishes or serve directly from the pan.
- Assemble the tacos to taste and serve immediately.
Sources of sodium
Approximate sodium intake per serving: 140mg
- 125mg from the beans, which have 125mg per 1/2 cup (130g) serving
- 15mg from the tortillas, which have 10mg per 2 tortilla (47g) serving
- These values are calculated from the nutritional labels of the ingredients I used
Further reduce the sodium
- If using canned black beans, check the nutritional labels and choose the kind that has the least amount of sodium. We use organic black beans because they have less sodium than the non-organic low sodium option. Try to find a no-salt added option.
- You can decrease the sodium content by completely draining and rinsing the beans and then replacing the drained liquid with two tablespoons of olive oil.
- You can soak your own black beans and use little or no salt to the water.
Increase the sodium
- If we were not watching our sodium intake, we would salt to taste the beans and the tomatoes.
Heating up tortillas
- Tortillas can be heated in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes.
- They can also be heated in a dry pan over medium-high heat for approximately 10 seconds on each side (or longer if you prefer them toastier.)
- I prefer them to be crispier so I heat up my 12-inch cast iron pan with a small amount of oil (enough to almost cover the bottom of the pan) on medium-low heat. I heat the three tortillas on one side for a few seconds, until lightly browned but not stiff. I flip them and fold them into a shell shape. I fry them on one side until they are nicely browned, then flip them and fry them on the other side. I place them on paper towel inside the aluminum foil pocket, to drain any excess oil. When they’re perfect, they’re not hard at the fold and they do not break while I’m eating them.