Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Taco Cleanse: Proselytizing, Review, and Giveaway

this epic tome is all you need for a fresh start of taco vitality in the new year.

This time of year, many people are busy making New Year's Resolutions. So many resolutions are heavy with shame and remorse... what a burden to begin the new year with all of that in your heart! 
Instead, may I suggest a few taco-oriented resolutions for you:
~ Embrace the energizing powers that tacos can bring to your life!
~ Commit to eating more tacos in 2016 than you ate in 2015, 
and experience dynamic improvement in your life! 
~ Challenge yourself to feel the taco crystals sparkling in your life! 

The taco holds the answers that you seek

Once you have seen the truth and the light, you are obligated to spread the word far and wide across the land. Friends, I have eaten from the glory of the taco, I have experienced the rush of energy and flavor and healing powers of a taco-rich diet, and I am here to preach! 

This life-changing book was written by an advanced team of vegan taco scientists who have each done years (even lifetimes!) of taco research. The Taco Cleanse represents the culmination of all their knowledge - into a book full of taco guidance and recipes that will maximize joy-bringing and life-enhancing taco potential!

In fact! I am very honored to have made a contribution to this esteemed tome! My friends the taco scientists know an awful lot about taco science, but they asked for my input in the realm of taco yoga!! Yes, you read right! There is a whole section of taco yoga poses, taco salutations, and even taco mudras complete with colorful little stick figures by yours truly - so that you may more fully incorporate your mind-body into your taco cleanse, and invite the transformation to occur!

Colors! Textures galore! Aura-cleansing wave emissions! Chakra-balancing flavors!

Now, let's get down to brass tacks: The Taco Cleanse is a very fun and funny book. Every time I read it I start laughing and laughing. It's so fantastic. But, here's the best part of all: the recipes are even more fantastic. As you will soon see, I have made SO many recipes from this book, and I have been totally amazed by it all.

As you probably know, I am from California, and out here we eat a lot more burritos than tacos. I didn't really experience the magnificence of taco culture until I went to Austin for VidaVeganConIII earlier this year. So, even though I came home from Austin with a new appreciation for the live-giving properties of tacos, I didn't really know where to start. I love that this book has so many recipes -- for tortillas, for protein-y fillings, for sides and toppings, for classic and nouveau fillings, breakfast dinner and dessert tacos, and even for drinks!

Radiant Rajas

The first thing I did was tackle a whole bunch of sides or extra taco toppings so that our tacos could be extra fun and varied. They were all quick and easy to assemble, and added so much extra flavor and zip to our taco feasts.

These Radiant Rajas were so good! This dish is made with fresh poblano peppers that are roasted and charred, then peeled and sauteed with onions and garlic and seasoning. Such a nice contribution to the whole: they definitely packed some heat, but also lots of flavor.

Bright Light Baja Slaw

This recipe comes together in a snap, but is super delicious... with an unexpected use of orange juice in the marinade. I always like to have some slaw on hand when I am engaged in taco activity. I love the fresh, crispy crunch that the cabbage gives to the overall experience. I have already made this at least 4 times, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

my yoga buddy

Top Left: Cilantro-Avocado Tranquility Sauce
Bottom Left: Regenerative Red Onions
Right: Deeply Roasted Chipotle Butternut Squash 

Cilantro-Avocado Tranquility Sauce is absolutely amazing. I think I've made at least 3 batches so far. I possibly like it more than guacamole (blasphemy?). It's so quick and easy and tangy and tasty, and a perfect cooling agent when there are some spicy, heat-giving components to your taco! You gotta have balance, after all.

Regenerative Red Onions: Another super quick, super easy mini-dish that adds so much to your taco! These red onions turn a beautiful, bright pink color that will lift your spirits -- and they have a bright, crispy tangy bite that will also lift the spiritual potential of your taco. Win-win!

Deeply Roasted Chipotle Butternut Squash: Oh gee. This dish is really wonderful, and is so nice in a taco with some refries and some of that avocado sauce... in addition to the cubed squash, it has chickpeas and walnuts and chipotles in adobo sauce... and the whole scene is roasted to enhance its flavor and to elevate its healing capacity. This stuff was Mr. VE&T's favorite, and I will have to make it again next time, because it is really top-notch!

Left: Quick Frijoles Charros
Right: Mighty Migas 

Quick Frijoles Charros: The first day I cooked from this book, my energy was still depleted from a lifetime of low taco levels. So, I needed to address the situation with some urgency, and selected this quick bean recipe for its quickness alone. Fortunately, it is indeed quick, but the beans are also exceptionally delicious, so they immediately started to restore my taco levels and gave me the energy I needed to make proper refries the following weekend.

Mighty Migas: This was one of my favorite dishes from the book so far! I could just eat this excellent tofu scramble over and over and over and over. It's got lots of nooch, tomatoes, spicy spices, and even has crumbled tortilla chips in it. The recipe calls for optional vegan cheese, and I happened to have some of the Chili Cayenne Chao Cheese (from Field Roast) in my fridge. I chopped up a slice and it was a great addition! I already have a little baggie of chips waiting on my counter for my next batch.

tacos in my heart
tacos on my mind
tacos in my aura

Taco Bonanza Number One!

Look at my homemade tortillas! They are so good and so easy. I don't have a tortilla press, but this book taught me how to use the bottom of a pot instead. I think this is only the second time I had ever made homemade corn tortillas, and now I've already made them 3-4 times since getting this book.

Mr. VeganEats&Treats figured out how to stand on the doggie stairs 
(for Snoopy to get up and down from the sofa)
for maximum downward pressure and superior tortilla results! 

Everything on all those tacos took me less than 2 hours to prepare, and lasted for at least 3 meals for the two of us. We've had tacos for dinner and for dinner and for dinner. SO worth it. Plus, with all those fillings and all those condiments, it didn't seem like leftovers at all - each and every taco was a new combo and a new experience. 

When you order a burrito, it's a serious commitment. One of the things I enjoyed about all the tacos I ate in Austin was that I could order three different tacos and have so many different tastes and experiences in one meal! So it was a really fun to recreate that by cooking such a variety of items, and then eat three (or four!) totally different tacos per sitting. 

Top Left: Veracruz Giant Lima Beans
Top Middle: Optimal Coconut-Roasted Delicata Squash
Top Right: Soy Curl Fajitas

Veracruz Giant Lima Beans: I wish I could have found actual Giant Lima Beans because they look super fun and special-looking in the picture in the book. I had to use regular-sized limas. I was afraid maybe using smaller beans would result in reduced taco dynamics, but no! These beans are quite distinctive and it actually took a little while for them to grow on me... and then I was all in. They're flavored with green olives and pickled onions, and a myriad of seasonings.

Optimal Coconut-Roasted Delicata Squash: this recipe called for an acorn squash, but I haven't seen any acorn squashes at our farmers market yet this year, so I used a delicata squash. These roasty chunks of squash, were so simple and easy, and added a lot to our tacos!

Soy Curl Fajitas: Yes Yes Yes! I had a bag of Soy Curls languishing in my fridge from my last trip to Portland* and I was happy to put them to use. This recipe was 5-star fantastic. Mr. VE&T was totally flippin' for it. Somehow it came together super quickly and was just absolutely great. My new favorite fajitas recipe, in fact I've already made it twice. The first time I made it (pictured), I didn't have the aji amarillo the recipe called for -- so I followed the book's suggestion and used a chopped jalepeno instead. But, then I went on Amazon and ordered myself some of that aji amarillo paste for myself, which I used in the second batch. That biz is super beautiful, and super spuh-icy!

* great news, local readers! You can now buy Soy Curls at Staff of Life in Santa Cruz

Left: Wake and Shake Tofu Scramble
Right: Affirmation Cumin-Onion Rice

Wake and Shake Tofu Scramble: when all us vegans took over Austin for the VidaVeganCon, everyone had to go to the Bouldin Creek Cafe at least once to try their famous tofu scramble. This is really similar, and it is literally covered in nutritional yeast. So Much Nooch. The tofu bits are tossed in a big bag of nooch and spices, and then baked -- which gives them an excellent chew and bite. So good! Next time I will probably cube the tofus. I know this is offensive to some die-hard tofu-crumblers, but I was distraught about the little bits of tofu that I couldn't rescue from the bag of seasoned nooch, and I need to prevent that from happening again. I hope you'll understand.

Affirmation Cumin-Onion Rice: this is a good, solid, lightly-seasoned rice recipe that went well with so many stronger flavors. Easy and definitely a big step up from plain ol' rice, which is my usual.
learning the ways of the taco from the master

Taco Bonanza Number Two!
Every taco has its own unique magical powers!

Top Left (in repurposed Heidi Ho jar): Spirited Salsa Inglesa 
Left: Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans
Bottom Center: Ion-Charged Refried Beans
Bottom Right: Enlightened Soy Curls Al Pastor
(note: I prefer soft corn tortillas, but Mr. VE&T prefers the crunchies!)

Spirited Salsa Inglesa -- the book says that sauce is a Costa Rican sauce a lot like Worcestershire sauce. I'd never heard of it, but I really like it! It's tart and vinegary, but also a little sweet, and full of seasonings. It's really, really good with the Gallo Pinto too!

Gallo Pinto is a great black beans and rice and onions and yummy spices mix. It's kinda like everything you need in one pot! I've actually made this twice already. Once I cooked the black beans and rice from scratch (very good), and once I short-cutted that biz and used a can of black beans and some leftover rice in the fridge (also very good!). I love a quick and dirty shortcut that works out great. More time and energy for taco yoga!

(not pictured: fried plantains!) - the next morning I made some of the fried plantains and compiled some Tropical Breakfast Tacos to keep my taco levels high! These excellent morning tacos had gallo pinto, plantains, avo sauce, and fresh cilantro. What a great start to the day!

Ion-Charged Refried Beans: I have a confession. Making these refries was the first time I've ever made homemade refried beans. I usually just buy the kind in the can!! So this was an exciting adventure with magical results! I did something kinda wrong and accidentally soaked the beans overnight, but that was okay because it meant I only had to pre-boil them for one hour instead of two. I also reduced the oil by a whole lot, because that's just the way I am. I think I used 1 Tbsp. But OMG! These were so good. In all, I cooked them for about 2 1/2 hours. They were so smooth and flavorful and fantastic. Mr.VE&T pretty much fell in love with these and only wanted these beans on every taco he ate. Luckily it made a huge batch, so we had refries for days! It took time, but almost no effort, especially while I was fiddling in the kitchen with other things. I'll definitely make these again!

Enlightened Soy Curls Al Pastor. All gone in one sitting. Just like that, looks like I need to go buy more Soy Curls after months of not knowing what to do with them. This recipe was fun because it involved flavors and ingredients that I almost never use: dried chilies that were roasted and then ground, diced pineapple (!!), plus my fave chipotles in adobo sauce. So delicious, rich and complex and totally new-to-me flavors! *special note: Both of these soy curl recipes have converted Mr VE&T to a total Soy Curls fan, and I am so grateful!

Taco Bonanza Number 3!
tacos when the sun comes up!
tacos 'til the sun goes down!

resting with my taco pal.
deep inner peace comes from increased taco exposure

Comforting Seitan White Bean Guisada 
(I followed the suggestion to use white beans in place of seitan, 
definitely good for a quick, last-minute addition to the taco table)
White beans and peppers and onions cooked in a delicate gravy.

What do you do when one of your besties proposes a family dinner date two days before Christmas? You make a ton of taco fixin's! In fact, I already had lots of taco components on hand from two nights in a row of taco cleansing, so it was no hardship to whip up just a little extra taco magic: a quick batch of Soy Curl Fajitas, a batch of tortillas (now I am like a pro or something), and this Comforting Seitan Guisada. I loved this dish! It's mild, but still flavorful, and a nice balance to some of the stronger and spicier flavors in play. In the end, we had so much fun together and we all ate so many tacos. I mean, like I said... once you've had a taco awakening, it becomes a moral imperative to share the glory. It would have been wrong for me to prepare anything else for my friends.



Are you ready to invite the spirit-awakening powers of tacos into your life?
Do you need to address the taco-deficiencies in your diet?

If so, you are in luck: I have been granted permission to offer a copy of this life-changing book to one lucky (dare I say, blessed?) reader. (US & Canada only. Alas, you other kind souls are left to fend for your taco needs all on your own. You can do it!

To enter, just leave a comment here with some taco news, or a shame-free new year's resolution, or something you accomplished in 2015, or a favorite taco memory! I'll pick a winner in one week! <3 nbsp="" p="">


  1. I have no taco memories, so I hope to create some if I win this book. I need some inspiration for additional ways to use beans and to motivate myself to try making corn tortillas!

  2. I have so many taco memories it is hard to choose! From taco nights with my brother (always good times!) to being saved from hunger by a glorious angel of a taco food truck (seriously amazing tacos) to discovering breakfast tacos were a thing when I moved to Texas. Definitely psyched to try the migas recipe. Please count me in for taco glory!

  3. My resolution is more body positivity. It's always a struggle and never something I arrive at 100%.

  4. My earliest taco memory was the Old El Paso kit, still beloved in a pinch. And only allowed when my dad was out of town!

  5. This is a truly inspiring post! I can see we (i.e. I) need to step up our game for Taco Night. Bueno!

  6. Aimeemarienoelle2:18 PM

    Ah Gallo pinto!! We ate so much Gallo pinto in Costa Rica over the summer it's my favorite thing! Anyway my resolution for 2016 is - have even more fun! Like going to Texas (Austin here I come!), taking improv class, and have a happy attitude even when coworkers don't! Happy new year co Aimeemarienoelle:)

  7. What a coincidence! My New Years Resolution is to eat more tacos!

  8. Delicious taco memory from eating whole bean tacos with a lime/ shredded jicama something else bought from a vendor on a beach in Mexico 25 years ago. I can still taste the salty tang and smooth beanie yumminess.

  9. I asked for this book for christmas, and I *did* get a vegan taco cookbook, but it was the wrong one! As far as I am concerned there are never too many vegan tacos, so this one remains on the list!

  10. We don't have much of a taco culture, here, and it was even more true twenty-something years ago: we had just started seeing fajitas appear on the scene. So when I went - those twenty-something years ago - to visit a friend in another province and she took me to Taco Bell, it was like a brand new world opening up before me! Though that was the only time I ever set foot in one, since we still don't have them around here... and homemade tacos must be so much more delicious anyway! I clearly have to take matters in my own hands, and your glowing review (based on impressively extensive testing!) makes it very clear that this book would be a huge help in introducing me properly to the glories of tacos! Your contributions to the book would be an extra lovely bonus, too... :)

  11. Wow! You were not kidding when you said you made a lot from this book! My favorite tacos to date are Isa's Anchor Lentil Tacos but these recipes look like they could give those some serious competition!!!

  12. My new year's resolution is to eat more fresh herbs...and what better vehicle for herbs than tacos!

  13. My resolution is to eat more tacos. Dragons Love Tacos is one of our favorite books and we need to be prepared for dragon feasts!

  14. I would love to up my yoga to 3 times a week and have more patience with people!

  15. I would love to up my yoga to 3 times a week and have more patience with people!

  16. You've converted me, Sister Amey! I love your drawings - the taco pose is the best! I agree and I resolve to eat more tacos! (I'll still try to read more literature this year but consuming more tacos is a lot more realistic). Happy New Year!

  17. OMG Taco Yoga! I LOVE it!!! And the food looks so so so so good!!!!! I had heard of this book, but didn't think I needed a whole book about tacos. Well, I have obviously been deluded and confused, probably from a serious case of taco depletion. I MUST have this book! (don't include me in the draw though as I am outside US/Canada - hello Book Depository!)
    Happy New Year to you Amey xx

  18. Taco yoga sounds fun!! We're having cauliflower chick pea tacos tomorrow!!

  19. Oh goodness! I don't really have any taco memories, but I do miss Jack In The Box tacos! I guess my goal for this year is to be more diligent about my veganism; I cheat every now and then with coffee creamer 😢

  20. My New Year's resolution is to become taco strong!

  21. I love love love your cookbook reviews, Amey! You do such a thorough job and write fun and helpful commentary. I've bought other cookbooks based on your reviews. That said, I just received Taco Cleanse last week, so I don't need to win one, but I know know what recipes to start with first. Thank you and happy new year!

  22. This book sounds amazing!! I recently had delicious vegan tacos at an omni restaurant that happens to also have a vegan menu. With the help of this book, I could hope to make authentic, tasty tacos like those I ate at the restaurant.

  23. I'm not entering because I just won this book from Kittee (waiting for it to arrive >○< ) but I just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year, Amey.

  24. Anonymous2:38 PM

    Yum! Looks so good Amey! I think I could live on Tacos. I will have to try some of these recipes. XOXOX- Sandy

  25. Awesome review and adorable drawings! I cooked a lot of these and agree wholeheartedly. I have recommended this book to, well, basically everyone I've met since I acquired it.

  26. My favorite Amey illustrations of all time!! The downward facing taco is ahmeeeeeeezing!

  27. I love tacos and I'd love to win this book! I definitely prefer the less healthy hard taco shells. But soft tacos with fresh tortillas are also yummy. =)

  28. This book looks like a lot fun and full of delicious and healthy recipes. Definitely what I'm looking for to start the new year!

  29. First of all, I don't think I've ever seen anything cuter than a taco in downward dog!

    I need to bring my family over to the taco side with me! They are burrito heads, boooooo.

  30. A favorite taco memory is eating some sort of wonderful cashew cheesy taco at Gracias Madre in San Francisco. A goal for 2016 is to eat more tacos.

  31. I love your comprehensive reviews! This book sounds like a real winner. Maybe my resolution should be to buy a tortilla press!

  32. My new years resolution is to go to a new vegan restaurant each month of 2016... hopefully one will have tacos.

  33. Eek! I can't join in the giveaway being in the UK, so I'll just drool quietly and appreciatively from over here...

  34. i think a good new years resolution is to use my lovely tortilla press. what an opportunity this giveaway provides!

  35. Love the book idea and the blog!!!keep up the good work!😁

  36. i'd love to win this one! new year's resolution: incorporate more variety into my taco practice. #tacothetown #vegantacostrong #blessed

  37. You totally hit one of the things I love about taco's on the head, variety! I love that you can make a whole load of stuff and have a few different tacos. It's the best! I also just realised that I miss 'slaw! As you know I'm not really a vegetable lover but 'slaw is my favourite, I need to find somewhere that makes it in Bangkok!

  38. My favorite taco memories are of the breakfast tacos at VVC last year! Austin just knows how to do it!

  39. Oh my goodness, this sounds like an amazing cookbook!
    I'm sad to say that in our house, we eat way more burritos than we eat tacos because it always seems like so much work to make separate components for tacos. But for heightened awareness and a clearer mind, I'm willing to open myself up to the magic of tacos.

  40. oh my lord. i was drooling so much reading your post. i also live in california and can easily tackle a burrito but am not really sure how to do tacos. and i also always have bags of soy curls sitting around waiting for new recipes. honestly the best taco i have had was at a children's carnival because i couldn't find any other vegan food. beans plus tomatoes plus cabbage and salsa on a corn was delicious but i'm not sure if that was the desperation. i'd like to try these recipes and find out!!

  41. Wow, you really did make a lot from this book! Very impressive. Also, I love the confused look Snoopy has wondering why Mr. VeganEats&Treats is using his stool in your doodle above.

    My favorite taco memory is my son wanting to learn how to make tacos himself and then enjoying the fruits of his labor with him. We just made a plain old boring filling but I am enlightened now to all kinds of taco filling possibilities! I can see the light!

  42. I never discovered what amazing things you can put in tacos until I stopped putting meat in them. It is so great the amount of fillings that can go into a shell. I love to whip up a batch of potatoes and spinach with veggie cheese. Yummo!

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.


  44. I'm 6 months pregnant and sometimes have such a taco craving I go to Taco Bell, 'frescoing' the menu. No New Years Resolutions since I have to be a super healthy vegan for the wee one. In the future though I am going to DEFO need to try their 'margarita cleanse' I've heard about!

  45. I'm in the UK so can't enter (SOB) but I wanted to say how much I love your illustrations. This is exactly the sort of enlightenment I can embrace :)

  46. I'm ashamed to admit that I can't remember the last time I had a taco :( I clearly need to win this book to remedy that situation.

  47. My girlfriend, who is not vegan, took me to a vegetarian taco cooking class which was nearly all vegan (and the one recipe that was veg was easily veganizable). Um um tacos!!!!

  48. Taco memory - first time my son tried tacos and he loved it. The smile and excitement on his face. It was if he had never had those foods before. He was 4 and he didn't care that it had tomatoes,guacamole, rice, lettuce, corn, sauce, onions and peppers. Now when I set up a taco bar he wants to do it all by himself- beans or meat sub, cheese and sauce if not too spicy! We do Taco night at least once a month and change up the fillings and topping but he prefers it The same way. Thanks

  49. Taco memory - first time my son tried tacos and he loved it. The smile and excitement on his face. It was if he had never had those foods before. He was 4 and he didn't care that it had tomatoes,guacamole, rice, lettuce, corn, sauce, onions and peppers. Now when I set up a taco bar he wants to do it all by himself- beans or meat sub, cheese and sauce if not too spicy! We do Taco night at least once a month and change up the fillings and topping but he prefers it The same way. Thanks

  50. Dressing up as a taco for halloween!!!

    - Judith

  51. I have lots of taco memories but none of them in my own house. I need this book to change that!

  52. I've never actually liked tacos so this will be interesting to try.

  53. I'm obsessed with tacos and all food related and anything meatless. I need this book to break my chipotle/panchero/moes addiction

  54. Making taco memories tonight - shredded beef tacos in the crock pot.

  55. Oh how I love this post. I LOVE tacos and think the taco cleanse sounds awesome sauce.
    I love how you contributed to taco yoga pose pictures. That's completely adorable =)

  56. I live in LA, so I have lots of fond taco memories. My favorite little taqueria truck/taco purveyor is Plant Food for People. They have the spiciest, bestest jackfruit tacos and pinto beans! BUT, my resolution is also to eat at home more and hone my cooking skills, and this book would 1000% help me achieve that. :)


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