Meatless Monday & Money Matters: Creamy Taco Mac

tacomac2 We were grocery shopping in Meijer yesterday afternoon when Mr. Prevention comes strolling up to the cart with his arms over-flowing with foods that get the side eye from me. When I flipped over his luncheon meat turkey package to point out the sodium nitrate, he responded with, “WTF is a nitrate and why do I care?” (No exaggeration, this was said).



Can I just say, we’ve had this conversation MANY times before. But, I seized the opportunity, yet again, to educate on rates of cancer, namely colon cancer, and the fact that nitrates are 100% avoidable.

“Do you want me to get something from the deli counter instead?” he asked.

“Yes, dear, that would be a better option”, I responded calmly.

tacomac1 Sometimes, it’s easier, maybe even preferred, to not have meat on the table. This vegetarian meal has been on my must-make list for far too long. Though the ingredient list is simple and wholesome through and through, the end result is fun, healthy (nearly 17 grams of fiber per serving!!!), comfort food.

We both loved this meal. My only complaint is that it didn’t reheat that well for leftovers. I did find that stirring in about a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt and/or some salsa solved this problem, however!


I have no plans today — thanks to the holiday, classes are cancelled and I don’t start my new job until tomorrow. :-D

P.S. I started categorizing recipes based on the number of calories. I hope this is helpful to some of you!

Be well,


  1. Bookmarking this! Love the sound of this mac, and it doesn’t even contain cheese, just yogurt. Mr. P will learn eventually. I wish all of my pals were nutrition-minded too!

  2. Great recipe! And great reminder about nitrates!

    Enjoy your Monday off, and have a great week!

  3. This is a combination of several of my favorite things-Mac n Cheese, pasta, and Mexican food! It looks so yummy!

  4. Oh I’m a little jealous of your day off! Enjoy it and good luck with the new job!

  5. I have that nitrate conversation with Jason all the time. There is one packaged brand (something natural, it’s in a brown box that looks cardboardy) that I try to get him to buy but if it’s not on sale, he insists of getting whatever is.

  6. This recipe looks great, but I have a question about the nitrates. So the turkey/ham/roast beef from the deli counter is nitrate free? I figured it all had nitrates.

    • Nicole, RD says:

      Melanie: Great question! Nitrates are a preservative that help give meat a aesthetically pleasing pink color and help prevent rancidity. Always avoid cured meats but generally speaking, many deli meats do not contain nitrates because they don’t have a very long shelf-life. Some of the packaged meats will be good come July (!?), but the meat you buy at the deli counter will likely get slimy and rancid after 3-4 days. You can always ask the person working the deli counter to ensure the meat you purchase is nitrate-free, as well. I hope that helps!

      • Wow, I just didn’t know that. We don’t eat a lot of lunchmeat, but that’s reason enough to stand in line at the deli. I figured it was all the same thing and took the easy route of picking it up in the lunchmeat/hot dog/bacon aisle.

  7. Looks delicious!

    I have today off, but am opting to work and take Friday off instead. Ahh the joys of having a flexible job.

    Enjoy the day and have a great first day tomorrow!! (Are you going to take “first day of work” photos, similar to the ones I am sure you Mom took of you on your first day of school?? :)

  8. Yum– looks like a great veggie meal! And I love the idea of reheating it with greek yogurt!

  9. This sounds amazing – definitely my kind of meal.
    Enjoy your day off!! :)

  10. Aren’t the lunch meats in the deli counter the same as the ones in the packages?

  11. I am not sure my husband has ever even looked at a nutrional label! Another winning dish Nicole! :D

  12. Tt in nyc says:

    Great recipe here! As a two decades plus vegetarian (now vegan) i often recommend to my omni parents that they dont want a completly meat free meal that just less meat is a step in the right direction- for example, my mom was making chicken noodle soup and i suggested she just use half chickpeas and half chicken, that way she got the “flavor” of the chicken but was actually eating less of it. Although they will never be meat free they are finding a middle ground to be “meat less”

  13. This looks delicious! I am a huge fan of pasta….but unless it’s a very spicy or pungent sauce (like this one YAY!), I have a hard time with whole wheat pasta. I’ve heard some good things about multi grain pasta, but haven’t tried it yet…..have you?

    • Nicole, RD says:

      Ann: I have, but I don’t notice a huge difference between the two. I like Barilla’s pastas the best if that helps :) Thanks for your comment!

  14. This looks fantastic! I am loving meatless meals lately too, but my husband is having a harder time transitioning to them. This though, I think he’d definitely go for :) It will bring a welcome change into our regular taco nights.

  15. I’m sad that this meal wasn’t the best at reheating – that is important to me – I need to find something Matt will take for lunch!

    Thanks for posting – this has been on my list to make for a few weeks now!


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