Black Bean Tostadas with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Black bean tostadas with creamy cilantro sauce! A healthy, budget-friendly and flavor packed meal!  

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First, thank you so much for the support and encouragement after my big announcement about starting a private practice. As someone who generally isn't a risk taker, this decision was one of the most terrifying things I've ever done. Each comment, email, text and facebook message made me feel a bit more confident and for that, I am eternally grateful. I'm still scared, but I know the fear will always be there, I frankly, I kinda like it that way. As long as I can harness my fear as energy and motivation, I won't be paralyzed by it.

The other day, I stumbled across a quote that I immediately connected with. 

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~ Dale Carnegie (of How to Win Friends and Influence People fame)

Being in transition is probably the scariest part. Fear of the unknown is the most intense fear of all. I know with each action I take towards building my private practice, the more confidence I'll build. I keep reminding myself how scared I was to teach a nutrition class or stand up for what I feel is the most appropriate medical and nutrition care to other providers. Now these are things I do without a second thought.

My other big fear is how to make it work financially. Luckily, we've always lived well within our means. And starting a nutrition coaching practice doesn't require much capital, so it won't be as difficult or risky as it is for other entrepreneurs. Still, we need to cut back, like, a lot. 

When we sat down to look at our expenses, we found two places where we could realistically save money. The first was what we'll call the random nonessentials - a latte here, a Target run there, a 12th LBD - it adds up when you're not paying attention! The second category, of course, was food.

Gulp.

I've always been mindful of our food expenses. I purchase most of my pantry ingredients from the bulk bins. I rarely buy processed food or meat, the two biggest expenses for most people. I comparison shop. We don't go out to eat as often as most people our age. And as much as I like goji berries, raw cacao powder and kale chips, I don't buy them cause they're hella expensive. Still, it adds up. So here's a look at the steps Scott and I are taking.

1. Limit dining out to once a week.

2. Cut back even more on meat and dairy.

2. Purchase less organic food. Unless the price difference is insignificant, I'll be purchasing mostly conventional foods. One exception - I will continue to purchase organic meat, eggs and dairy.

4. Get a bit more liberal in my adaptions of recipes. I'm trying to be better at adapting recipes based on what I have on hand. For example, the bean dip recipe I made last night called for fresh mint, but since I had parsley, I just used that. Two bucks saved right there.

5. No weeknight drinking.

6. Selectively purchasing convenience foods. No, you won't catch me with Hamburger Helper in my cart, but I'll probably purchase some things that are a little more processed than I'd normally get for convenience sake.

So get ready, cause you're going to be seeing quite a few budget friendly bean recipes here on this blog (as if there wasn't enough already). Might as well get started today with these black bean tostadas with creamy cilantro sauce!

Black Bean Tostadas with Creamy Cilantro Sauce
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: serves 4
This recipe is all about the cilantro sauce. I mean, the tostadas are good and all, but the cilantro sauce takes them to another level. You may never hear me say this again, but you could easily leave off the cheddar and not even notice the difference. I used a little bit of a high quality, aged cheddar I had leftover, but between the creaminess of the beans and the tangy sauce, I could barely taste it. Quick pickled onions are an easy and inexpensive way to dress up Mexican dishes. Try them in quesadillas, chopped salads, or to garnish my green posole. They'd even made a great condiment for my spicy tofu burgers.
Ingredients
  • [b]Tostada:[/b]
  • 1/2 red onion, thin-sliced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup feta
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
  • [b]Cilantro Sauce:[/b]
  • 1 cup plain, organic yogurt (preferably full fat or 2%)
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
Instructions
  1. To pickle the onions, place the onions in a bowl with the vinegar, salt and sugar. Let sit at least 15 minutes, or until the rest of the food is done cooking.
  2. Next, make the sauce by blending the yogurt, cilantro and lime juice in a blender until pureed. Season with salt to taste.
  3. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat. Add peppers and saute 5 minutes until tender. Add onion and garlic, saute an additional 5 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Add cumin, stir, and cook 30 seconds. Add black beans, water and season with salt and pepper. Cook until warmed through, about 3-5 minutes. Mash lightly with a potato masher, so about half the beans are still whole.
  4. Toast the tortillas over a low flame on a gas stove.
  5. Divide the black bean mixture over the tortillas. If using, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and place under the broiler a minute or so until melted.
  6. Divide the shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and pickled red onion over the tostadas. Drizzle (or bathe) in cilantro sauce.