SEATTLE — Eating more fruits and vegetables can seem challenging when you look at the prices at your local market or are afraid of sacrificing taste for healthy dishes. Following a plant-based diet can just seem intimidating to both you and your wallet if you're unsure of how to modify your favorite meal or how to get your ingredients on a budget. 

Toni Okamoto strives to teach others that you don't have to give up flavorful dishes or your saving accounts in order to pursue a plant-based, healthier diet. She is now sharing the lessons she learned from her own struggles of adjusting to a vegan lifestyle while still worrying about paying bills in her book, Plant-Based on a Budget. With recipes like 4 Ingredient Chocolate Pie and Bean & Corn Salad, you'll have a wide variety of dishes to choose from that are cost-effective, healthy, and delicious.


Yields 2 to 4 servings 

The word chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs in Mexico) word chil-a-quilitl, which means "herbs or greens in chili broth." It's traditionally made with eggs and cheese, but since I no longer eat those things, I did my best to create a tasty plant-based version of one of my childhood-favorite Mexican dishes. 


  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 5 corn tortillas, cut into small strips 
  • 3/4 cup diced red, white, or yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 small cloves)
  • 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, pressed
  • 6 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt Pinch of pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bottle of your favorite salsa

Optional Additions:

  • 1 cup chopped spinach added in step 4
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (if you like your salsa spicy), added in step 4

Optional Toppings:

  • Fresh or canned jalapeños
  • Sliced avocado


1. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and fry the tortilla strips for 11/2 minutes on each side or until they are crispy.

2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes or until the onion is tender and translucent.

3. Using your fingers, crumble the tofu into the pan.

4. Add the cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. Add the pinto beans, mix well, and let cook for 2 more minutes.

6. Serve topped with the salsa. 

TONI'S TIPS: If the term sprigs is unfamiliar, here's a little helpful info: Cilantro is sold in bunches. Each bunch contains stems with cilantro leaves. Those are called sprigs. If you're doubling this batch and planning on saving some for a later meal, when serving the leftovers it's best to start at step 2 and fry up new corn tortillas. Use corn chips instead of frying the tortillas if you want to save on time. 

TESTERS' TIPS:  "Vegan sour cream would be A+ in lieu of avocado. I also recommend 1/2 tea-spoon turmeric for health and to make the tofu a yellow color, similar to the color of eggs." —Logan J. from Sacramento, CA 

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