I find it rather amazing that I have gone through 23 years of my life without discovering the magic of tamales. Growing up in Iowa, they were not something that I came across on a regular basis. They always seemed like this strange, mysterious, non-vegetarian friendly menu item.

As I was sitting at Urth Cafe with my BFF Marly one day we unwrapped and devoured some delicious green chili and cheddar cheese tamales. My mind immediately jumped to the thought, “I could do this!” I began to ponder how to concoct such a scrumptious dish.

When I was telling my wonderful mother, who happens to be an incredible cook, about my new-found ambition to make tamales, she immediately said, “I want to make tamales too!” Luckily, she was coming to visit me in LA a couple of weeks later, so we had the chance to embark on this culinary adventure together.

This recipe for squash, black bean and goat cheese tamales served as our inspiration. However, being creative cooks, my mother and I find it difficult to follow recipes and we didn’t exactly use the measurements and definitely added our own flavor. We used home cooked black beans with garlic and winter squash from the farmers market, rather than the canned versions that the recipe calls for. Another essential addition to the recipe was blended up fresh sweet corn, also from the farmers market, which added a sweet flavor to the batter.

I also made a second filling which included mixed veggies cooked  in lime and cumin with pepper jack cheese. My original creation actually had more rave reviews from my eight lucky friends who came as guinea pigs to participate in my first tamale endeavor. All of them left alive, stuffed, and happy, so I declared it a successful completion of “Mission: Make Tamales.”

Based on my success, I was even inspired to make tamales a second time for a group of fifteen people, who could not stop exclaiming about their deliciousness. Double success!


Click HERE to see the recipe!


Puki Freeberg
Transcendental Meditation Instructor
Los Angeles, California