Nopales Quesadillas

So, if by some small chance you don’t know this by now, well, I love Mexican food. Yes, yes I do. I grew up eating lots of cheesy goodness, which I still love. The only thing that’s changed is my conviction to not cause harm when I can and a desire to be healthy. The good news is, as a plant-based vegan, you can still have your Mexican food and love it too!

About a year ago is when I discovered Nopales at an authentic Mexican restaurant in Denton, TX. I was told all the vegetarians loved it, so I finally gave in and tried some. (Tacos, that is.) I’m so glad I did! Don’t let the fact that this comes from the leaves of a prickly cactus turn you off. It tastes great after it’s been cleaned up and marinated in spices and good stuff.

And who knew it would be so good for you, too! Just do a quick Wiki search and you will find that nopales have many great health benefits. Totally worth trying at least once! Let’s make it!

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You will need:
1/2 small jar Nopalitos (found in the international section of most grocery stores)
1 small can diced tomatoes and chilies
4 large corn tortillas (organic preferred)
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 avocado, sliced (for garnish)
Daiya cheddar cheese and/or
Roasted red pepper hummus (lower fat version)

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Fire up a skillet on medium heat, and add diced Nopalitos (drained), tomatoes, and half your diced onions. Leave this be for about 5 minutes – but toss it around every minute or so so it doesn’t burn. I realize that last sentence is an oxymoron. While this is heating up, spray a skillet with olive oil spray and add a tortilla. Add your choice of either Daiya or yummus hummus. Layer on a few fresh onions (I like a few crunchy ones, but you can just add them all to your cooked mixture if you like). Once the cooked mixture is sufficiently heated, add a bit to your doctored up tortilla as evenly and well distributed as possible (lol). Add a tiny bit more cheese or hummus to the top (if using hummus, just spread on the second tortilla). Layer on the last tortilla, press it down a bit with your cool cat-shaped spatula, and wait. Once you are sure your tortilla isn’t going to fall apart (yes, it’s a guessing game), flip it like a pro, doing your best not to let half the filling fall out (this is just a bit easier with the Daiya). Let this side brown for a minute and then remove from heat onto your favorite plate of choice. Slice it up, add some pretty stuff to garnish, and serve! I tried a adding a little salsa, but honestly it was a little too much salt for me. Another option for this, instead of Daiya or hummus, would be to make your own cashew cheez (a well-known vegan phenomena). Enjoy with your choice of healthy or unhealthy beverages. (I’m obligated to say healthy.) Mmmmm.

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