Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Your Basic Taco

OK, I admit it. I've always enjoyed those little packets of taco seasoning that you toss in with some ground meat. Now, there are "wholesome" versions of those little packets available (Simply Organic's comes to mind), but even that's cheating, really. Besides, it's more expensive than making your own. My confession really boils down to this: when I make tacos, I'm aspiring to make something that resembles junk food. Ohh! It feels dirty just saying that! Some part of the foodie in me just died.

The reality is that my tacos would never be recognized as such in Mexico, or in Texas for that matter, but they're seriously quick and easy, they cost very little, they're fun to eat, and they make everyone in the family happy and satisfied. And, despite the aim to taste like lesser food, they're actually healthy! What more could you ask for in a home-cooked meal?

This is less of a recipe and more of guide. I try my best to use ingredients that I need to get rid of, or that are leftovers from something else. That's especially true for the meat (I often use already cooked shredded chicken or turkey leftover from some other meal or soup), but I will often use a few leftover leaves of kale or beet greens that aren't enough to use as a side dish for another meal.

So, here is it:

Your Basic Taco
1 Tbsp. olive oil or oil spray (optional)
1 lb. meat, poultry or fish (ground, shredded, diced, flaked)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsps. cumin
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2 tsps. garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup water
1 15 oz. can beans (pinto, black, aduki)
several leaves of shredded raw greens (lettuce, kale, chard, beet greens, mustard greens, etc)
4-6 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
6-8 small whole grain, sprouted grain, or corn soft tortillas (bring to room temperature)

In a medium saute pan, heat oil over moderate heat (the oil is necessary for fish or already cooked meats, but not for raw, ground meats). Add animal protein (if raw, you'll need to cook through). Add chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and combine well. Heat for 1 minute, until spices become fragrant, but not burnt. Stir in water, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat beans. Set out guacamole, shredded greens and shredded cheese in bowls. Using one tortilla at a time, assemble by adding a little of each item: meat, beans, guacamole, greens, cheese. Enjoy!

Note: If you add some cooked brown rice to this, and use larger burrito-size tortillas, you could make burritos instead.


Living A Whole Life said...

What kind of fish do you use in your fish tacos? I really like Simply Organic, but making your own is a fantastic idea and I need to try it!


Healthy & Green on the Cheap said...

Karla, I use salmon, tilapia or mahi mahi. Tilapia and mahi mahi are good, inexpensive choices that are relatively low in toxicity. I get wild mahi mahi and organic farmed tilapia. Salmon, as long as its wild, is also a good choice, and of course full of omega 3 fatty acids, but a little more expensive. Sometimes I grill the fish and just sprinkle on the seasoning, rather than trying break it up in a pan. You can flake it after you cook it.

Jesse and Amy Powell said...

I can't wait to try these! We eat tacos all the time - we love corn tortillas =)