What runners eat: lentil tacos

If you follow my food posts, you may have noticed I usually post recipes on Friday so you can go into the weekend with a new recipe to try out after your weekend long run. But I’m posting the lentil tacos recipe today. Because Taco Tuesday.

How do I know runners eat lentil tacos? Because once upon a time, in a land far, far away …

(Fine, it was suburban Chicago, but that’s like a different country compared to Central California. I mean, we’ve had like two weeks straight of 100+ degree temperatures and the coldest run I ever completed in Chicago was in -11 degree weather. That is a difference of at least 111 degrees.

You guys, I think I just figured out why all of my summer runs feel terrible.)

… Anyway, back in this land called Chicago, I belonged to a running group that had passed this recipe around for so long I’m pretty sure nobody remembers its actual origins. It was already a legend by the time I first made it in, like, 2006.

It is, to this day, one of my favorite taco filling recipes, even though I don’t make it very often because I’m the only person in my household who likes lentils. Tacos not your jam? You can use it for burritos, nachos, or as a dip. Or just eat it by the spoonful. I actually love it as a dip to accompany Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues tortilla chips.

Lentils are inexpensive. They’re packed with fiber and protein, which makes them an excellent meat substitution. They’re also a good source of both iron and folate. Eating dark, leafy greens alongside lentils helps increase iron absorption, so consider garnishing your tacos with shredded spinach or kale instead of iceberg lettuce. (For this post I used romaine lettuce because that was what I had on hand.) I also like to add a bit of grated cheese and diced avocado to my tacos.

Over the years, I’ve tweaked the original (“original”) recipe to reflect my own preferences. As with all of the recipes I post, this one is gluten free, since I am gluten free. This can also be vegetarian/vegan if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I use whichever I have on hand.

This recipe makes a good-sized batch of lentils that will easily serve a family of four. Or, if you’re like me, use it for a week of lunches.


Lentil tacos

Author Fresno Runner


  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup salsa of your choice (I use medium Pace Picante sauce)
  • 12 taco shells or corn tortillas

Optional additional toppings

  • diced avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • shredded lettuce, spinach, or kale
  • diced tomatoes


  1. Heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender.

  2. Add lentils, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

  3. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

  4. Uncover and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture is thickened. Stir in salsa and heat through.

  5. Spoon about filling cup into each taco shell or tortilla and top with your favorite taco fixings. 



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