Blog | Rachel Begun, MS, RD | Page 2

Holiday Entertaining: neat® Mini Taco Salads

Amelia Alpaugh Photography

Mini Taco Salads – copyright Amelia Alpaugh Photography

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  I received complimentary samples and was paid by neat® to write this post and develop this recipe. The recipe and opinions in this blog post are my own.


While I love entertaining for the holidays, it isn’t easy. Anybody who has done it knows!

We want to prepare delicious, fulfilling dishes for our guests while also being mindful of everyone’s individual dietary needs, whether that be avoiding gluten and/or food allergens, or choosing to eat paleo, vegetarian or vegan.  To boot, I like to use only the highest quality, nutrient-rich ingredients.

When I find a product that makes recipes better and meets all of the above criteria, I not only stand up and take notice…I share it with you!


So, I am introducing you to neat® a healthy replacement for meat, a product line of meat replacement mixtures.

I first tried neat® at Expo West in March 2013.  I was representing a client at their booth, and the neat® booth was right next door.  From the very first bite I knew this product was a winner. Here’s why:

  • Contrary to the majority of meat replacement products of the past, neat® is made from whole, nutrient-dense ingredients, including ground pecans, garbanzo beans, gluten-free whole grains and spices.
  • It isn’t easy finding a wholesome, gluten-free, soy-free meat replacement product. Neat® meets all of these criteria and more.  For this very reason, I recommended neat® in an article I was interviewed for about the 10 Best New Gluten-Free Foods.
  • In addition to being vegetarian, gluten-free and soy-free, neat® can easily be prepared vegan and egg-free.  The directions call for adding water and eggs to the mix, but an egg substitute can also be used.  Neat® makes their own vegan egg substitute.
  • Neat® provides the protein and texture of meat while also contributing fiber and phytonutrients from beans, nuts and spices, nutrients you can’t get from animal protein alone.
  • In addition to being certified gluten-free, neat® products are also Non-GMO Verified, Kosher Parve, and made with only domestic ingredients.


From a culinary perspective, I love the ease and versatility that neat® products bring to entertaining.   When thinking about the best timing for this post, I knew I wanted to focus on the holidays.  Many ideas came to mind for making neat® finger foods that are full of flavor while also being gluten-free and made from wholesome ingredients.

These mini taco salads topped the list. You get all the flavors of a taco salad in one (or two) bite–the crispy corn taco shell topped with a spicy ground “meat”, the fresh flavors of romaine lettuce, olives, avocado and cilantro, and the spice of pico de gallo. This is a perfect holiday hors d’oeuvre, whether passed or plated.

neat® Mini Taco Salads

Makes: 24 mini taco salads


12 100% corn tortillas
High heat oil
1-5.5 oz. package of neat® Mexican Mix
2 large eggs or vegan eggs (the neat® egg)
2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. avocado oil
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste (I like Cholula)
2 cups romaine lettuce, chiffonade
2 cups pico de gallo
1 avocado, diced
2 cups pitted, sliced black olives
24 whole cilantro leaves, stems removed


  1. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out two rounds from each corn tortilla.
  2. Fill a frying pan with high heat oil, enough to submerge the tortilla rounds completely.  Fry the tortilla rounds until they are browned and crisp, about 1 minute each.  Place the tortilla crisps on paper towels to drain the oil. Add a pinch of salt to each.  Let cool.
  3. Prepare entire 5.5 oz. package of neat® Mexican Mix according to package instructions, which requires mixing with 2 large eggs and 2 Tbsp. of water.
  4. After you have browned the “meat” mixture, place in a food processor and pulse 2-3 time, until you have a texture similar to ground meat.  Take the food processor bowl off.  Add the almond oil and rub into the “meat” mixture with your hands to make moist.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
  5. Place tortilla crisps onto a serving platter.  Top each tortilla with the following ingredients in the following order: shredded romaine lettuce, “meat” mixture, pico de gallo, one black olive slice, one piece of diced avocado, and one whole cilantro leaf.

Free E-cookbook: Gluten-Free Thanksgiving with Jules


If you don’t already know Jules Shepard, she is an absolute gem in the gluten-free community.

Her company, gfJules, makes gluten-free flour and baking mixes, and the recipes she shares via social media are divine.

She is always giving back to the gluten-free community, and she doesn’t disappoint this Thanksgiving.

She has offered me and my readers the opportunity to download her Thanksgiving e-cookbook–Gluten-Free Thanksgiving with Jules–for FREE.  That’s 31 gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes free of charge.  Not to mention all of the other valuable information she shares, including how to source gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients.

The link to download the cookbook is  Use the following promo code to get your copy for free: gfjules54601c422c5ae.

The deadline for the promotion is November 15, 2014, so don’t delay.

If you want to thank Jules directly, you can find her on Facebook at and Twitter at

I am going to thank her right here.  THANK YOU, JULES, for always giving to the gluten-free community!  Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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