Make Your Own Delicious, Vegan Taco Meat With This Secret High-Protein Ingredient

Photo: Stocksy/Sean Locke

Most of the time, beans work as a simple swap out for meat in recipes. Chili, burgers, burritos...they're all foods where you can use 'em in place of chicken or beef. But considering many of us have been working through our canned pantry goods during quarantine, you might be super sick of beans at this point. And while they're delicious, you can't really consider them to be a convincing meat alternative. No matter how you season them, they still look and taste like beans. Hence the quest for finding a vegan taco meat with a texture that's closer to its meat-based counterpart.

Leave it to vegan food blogger, actress, and fashion designer Tabitha Brown to concoct a vegan taco meat that actually delivers on both texture and taste. Recently, she shared her go-to recipe on TikTok, which features an unexpected ingredient: pecans.

@iamtabithabrownTaco Tuesday with my favorite Pecan ? ##tabithabrown ##vegantacos ##pecans ##fyp♬ original sound - iamtabithabrown

Besides pecans (which contain nine grams of protein and a whopping 9.5 grams of fiber per cup), she also uses mushrooms in her recipe, an increasing go-to in meat substitute products because their texture is similar to meat when cooked. Brown says she'd seen walnuts used in vegan taco meat recipes before, which helped serve as inspiration for her own. "I have a slight allergy to walnuts, so I decided to try it with pecans, and it worked!" she says.

Of course flavoring is super important. Brown uses a mixture of liquid aminos, low-sodium taco seasoning, and garlic, along with onion, green bell peppers, and jalapeño to get the taste profile exactly right. "The mushrooms give the texture you need and liquid aminos help give the meaty flavor, so those two ingredients are crucial," she says.

She offers up another pro tip when trying this recipe at home: "Soaking the pecans or boiling them if you are cooking them is so important to help them get to the right texture." Ready to give it a shot? Get Brown's full recipe below.

Tabitha Brown's vegan taco meat

Yields 12 servings 

2 cups raw pecans
2 cups water
3 Tbsp liquid aminos
4 large white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp low-sodium taco seasoning
1 Tbsp salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
Juice from 1 lime

1. In a medium bowl, combine the pecans with the water and liquid aminos. Soak for three hours, then drain.

2. Add the drained pecans to a food processor with the mushrooms, green bell pepper, red onion, jalapeño, taco seasoning, garlic and herb seasoning, and lime juice. Pulse a few times until the mixture is well chopped and resembles ground meat. Do not over-process. Enjoy!

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