1. Black legumes
Black beans impart a robust flavor and a chewy consistency to tacos in place of the meat. They are classified as legumes or pulses, which are highly recommended alternatives to animal-based proteins on account of their substantial protein content derived from plants.
Indeed, boiling black beans into a cup (172 grams) yields 15 grams of protein and provides 20% of the recommended daily allowance of iron. The transportation of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues requires iron. Nevertheless, vegetarian diets frequently fail to provide adequate amounts of iron due to the reduced bioavailability of iron from plant sources in comparison to animal proteins, which hinders its absorption.
Moreover, black beans are an excellent source of fiber, which, in conjunction with their plant-based protein content, may aid in appetite regulation, prolong feelings of fullness, and reduce the likelihood of developing chronic diseases (8).
Given their essential role in Mexican gastronomy, black bean tacos are invariably complemented by guacamole or pico de gallo—a traditional Mexican salsa composed of red tomatoes, onion, pepper, lime juice, salt, and cilantro—as side dishes.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are classified as legumes, which means they contribute significantly to the plant-based protein and fiber content of your tacos (3 reliable sources). Cooked chickpeas contain 12.5 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein per 1-cup serving (164 grams).
Moreover, research indicates that individuals who consume legumes have a tendency to have higher intakes of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), vitamins A, E, and C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron (10 reliable sources), due to the nutrient-dense nature of these foods.
Furthermore, these dietary powerhouses have the potential to assist in the reduction of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels, regulation of blood sugar, and enhancement of gastrointestinal health.
Chickpeas are distinguished by their velvety consistency and delicate, earthy taste. Nonetheless, roasting them could potentially impart a subtle bite to your tacos. If you’re interested in trying this vegetarian alternative, here’s a straightforward recipe for chickpea tacos. Serve alongside a side dish consisting of cucumber salad or coleslaw for a revitalizing lunch or supper.
The distinctive nutritional profile, mild flavor, and delicate texture of mushrooms all contribute to their widespread use as an ingredient in plant-based cuisine.
Mushrooms are low in cholesterol, similar to legumes, but high in protein and fiber. Indeed, mushroom proteins are composed entirely of essential amino acids.
Moreover, they possess an abundance of phytoactive constituents, including polysaccharides and antioxidants, which have the potential to bestow antimicrobial, immune-enhancing, and cholesterol-reducing attributes. For millennia, they have been employed for medicinal intentions.
Although over a hundred species of mushrooms are safe for human ingestion, portobellos are frequently substituted for meat. Meatless preparations centered around mushrooms include portobello steaks, burgers, fajitas, and burritos, among others.
Therefore, your next meatless taco night will unquestionably be a success if you opt for portobello mushroom tacos. For a colorful and flavorful entrée, mushroom slices roasted or grilled on soft tortillas with avocado, corn, red onion, and a touch of chipotle mayonnaise are an option.
4. Squashed butternuts
Winter squash of the butternut variety is renowned for its culinary versatility. In addition to its vibrant orange hue and sweet flavor, it can contribute a wealth of nutrients to your tacos. It is highly regarded for its substantial antioxidant content, specifically quercetin, vitamin C, carotenoids (which impart its distinctive hue), and phenolic compounds.
Antioxidants function by removing free radicals and potentially enhancing the immune system, which could result in a diminished likelihood of developing cancer and chronic illnesses (14 reliable sources, 15 reliable sources).
In addition to being low in calories, butternut squash is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals (including vitamins A and B, potassium, magnesium, and calcium), and eight of the nine essential amino acids.
Roast the squash with salt, pepper, and olive oil to create butternut squash tacos; serve with red cabbage slaw and guacamole. Black beans can also be incorporated to impart a Mexican flavor while also providing additional protein.
Quinoa is classified as a pseudocereal, which means that its primary application is similar to that of cereals such as wheat, barley, and rice.
Similar to mushrooms, it possesses an exceptional nutritional composition distinguished by its substantial protein content, which furnishes all vital amino acids. To be precise, the protein content of quinoa is analogous to that of casein, a primary protein found in milk.
Additionally, it is a food abundant in antioxidants and fiber, which may be beneficial for digestive health and may have anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and cancer-fighting properties. Its crumbled yet firm consistency renders quinoa an excellent plant-based alternative to minced beef. If you’re interested in attempting quinoa tacos with a meatless variation, try out this straightforward and delectable recipe that pairs well with your preferred green salad.
To produce tofu, solid bricks of condensed soy milk are compressed. Historically, it has been a preferred ingredient in vegetarian preparations owing to its remarkable nutritional composition and culinary adaptability. Tofu is regarded as a superior source of plant-based protein due to the fact that it contains each of the nine essential amino acids. Furthermore, it contains magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and phosphorus, among other essential vitamins and minerals.
Its mellow flavor and velvety, cheese-like consistency allow it to readily absorb marinades and sauces, making it suitable for virtually any taco recipe. If you wish to give your vegetarian tofu tacos an Asian or Mexican influence, consider attempting the following recipes.
Lentils are an additional legume that can upgrade the nutritional value of your vegetarian tacos. They, similar to black beans and legumes, are rich in complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, and minerals such as zinc, iron, and potassium.
Additionally, they are an excellent source of antioxidants, which may have antibacterial, anti-diabetes, anti-cancer, and heart-protective properties, and prebiotics, which promote digestive health. Nevertheless, variations in antioxidant content may be observed among distinct varieties of lentils. The prevailing hues are green, red, and yellow.
Due to their compact dimensions and resilient consistency, they are frequently employed in vegetarian preparations as an alternative to minced beef. Everything depends on how you season them. Consolidate your lentil tacos with grilled vegetables as a side dish to create a nourishing and wholesome entrée.
With the introduction of cauliflower rice, sirloin, and pizza, this vegetable’s popularity has increased over time. Cruciferous vegetables, of which cauliflower is a member, are lauded for their potential to combat cancer.
However, they also offer a multitude of supplementary advantages, including cholesterol-lowering and anti-diabetic properties, in addition to an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals. This recipe for buffalo cauliflower tacos garnished with cilantro sauce and guacamole is ideal for your next meatless taco event if you enjoy buffalo cauliflower wings.
Walnuts, renowned for their mildly earthy flavor and extensive array of health benefits, are extensively consumed on a global scale. This popularity extends to various culinary preparations, including tacos. They are a rich source of plant-based PUFAs, providing vegans and vegetarians with an exceptional source of essential fatty acids. Indeed, among tree nuts, they possess the highest omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Walnuts are also rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and antioxidant polyphenols, which contribute to their anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and heart- and brain-protective properties. Walnuts, like quinoa and lentils, can be substituted for ground beef in tacos. For a vibrant and fresh entrée, garnish them with sweet corn and pico de gallo.
Native to India, jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is also prevalent in Africa, Asia, and South America. Similar to the majority of fruits, it is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Nevertheless, it is among a limited number of fruits that are exceptionally abundant in B vitamins, including pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Likewise, at 165 grams and 3 grams per cup, it contains more protein than the majority of fruits.
Moreover, it imparts an extensive array of advantageous physiological responses, encompassing antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, and immune-boosting properties. Jackfruit is frequently substituted for meat due to its texture resembling that of shredded flesh. Indeed, it is the ingredient of choice for vegan “pulled pork” recipes almost always. Try this quick recipe for jackfruit “pulled pork” tacos if you’re interested in trying out this vegetarian alternative.