Everyone loves tacos, right?
What my kids love: the taste, the fun, & the autonomy of being able to choose what goes on their plates
What I love: it’s an easy, satisfying, gluten-free meal that infuses a lot of fresh vegies into my kids (and me!)
What I don’t love: those little packets of pre-made Mexican seasonings full of E-numbers, fillers, thickeners, fake flavours and other potentially nasty artificial additives
For a long time, that is all I knew taco seasoning to be. Mexican food hasn’t been a really prominent food tradition in Australia until relatively recently so I had no idea how to recreate those flavours.
Then I started following The Paleo Mom, and her simple taco recipe was a real revelation to me. You can find it here.
I have taken that recipe and pumped it full of essential nutrients from added vegies & superfoods like kelp and broth powder, to give some extra hits of health-promoting, immune-boosting goodness. Plus, you can never eat too many vegetables! As about 3/4 of the finished product is vegetables, it’s a good way to reduce meat consumption, not to mention boost fibre intake which has excellent benefits for the diversity of your microbiome.
The mix ends up quite a bit more wet than the standard taco-mince mixture, but no-one in our household seems to mind.
I know it looks long and complicated, which is usually a turn-off for me and recipes, but I promise that if you just prep everything first, it’s really straightforward and soon you won’t need to follow a recipe at all. Also, apart from the list of essential ingredients, everything is optional/ substitute-able.
This recipe makes double or triple quantity, so make sure you have room in your freezer to save some for a Day-Off-Cooking Day.
2Tbsp Coconut oil or ghee
500g grass-fed beef mince
500g free-range pork mince
Vegetarian version: 2-3 cups cooked lentils, kidney beans or chickpeas or mixture
1 lg onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. powdered cumin
2 tsp. powdered paprika
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chilli powder (optional)
Salt &/or pepper to taste
Optional Pep-My-Tacos Ingredients
2 Tbsp. dried kelp or wakame – a fantastic source of minerals, especially iodine
2 Tbsp. broth powder – for gut-healing goodness
2-3 Tbsp tomato paste – more for more colour, if necessary
1 tin peeled/crushed tomatoes
1 punnet mushrooms, sliced/diced*
1 large zucchini, grated*
1 large carrot, grated*
*quick/lazy prep tip: pulse these in a food processor 3-4 seconds. When my kids were toddlers they wouldn’t tolerate seeing pieces of vegetables in their food so I almost blended them to hide them in the sauce
Handful or two of green beans, sliced into 1cm pieces
1-2 corn cobs – kernels removed
Fresh coriander and/or parsley, chopped (I usually add loads, like a whole bunch)
Other ideas: diced red or yellow capsicum, spinach leaves, yellow squash, peas – any vegetable that you can get in there is great! Tinned/cooked kidney beans or chickpeas are also great for extra pre-biotic fibre.
METHOD – TACO MIX
- Chop and prepare all ingredients first, this will make the cooking process much simpler
- Heat oil in a large pan/wok, sautee onions 2-3mins
- Add mince, stirring to break up the chunks. Cook till it’s not pink anymore. If you’re doing a vegetarian version, add your legumes later.
- Add garlic & spices, keep stirring to coat and flavour the mince
- Add kelp, broth powder, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms, carrot, zucchini (or whatever fresh vegies you are using). Also legumes now if using. Bring to a bubble then reduce heat to simmer for about 20min to allow the liquid to reduce a bit. Longer is fine too, if you have time or a slow cooker. Prepping to this point in the morning is a good time saver for the evening.
- About 5-10min before serving, add the chopped green beans, corn kernels and fresh herbs (i.e. any ingredients that you don’t want too over-cooked)
Note: I haven’t given quantities for the ingredients following because it depends on you and your family. For example, only hubby and I eat the fresh tomatoes so I only chop one, but everyone scoffs the avo so we need 2-3. Do a bowl of each – you might be surprised at what your kids choose.
- Lettuce – cos or gem. We leave ours as whole leaves but you might like to shred yours. NB: I don’t use iceberg lettuce because it offers nothing nutritionally apart from water & a tiny amount of fibre. Cos and gem give a similar fresh crunch and a few more nutrients like magnesium and folate
- Tomato – diced
- Carrot – grated by kids
- Cheddar (preferably organic) – grated by kids
- Avocado / guacamole – see recipe below
- chilli sauce/salsa for the adventurers in the family
- Any other toppings you like! E.g. Chopped fresh coriander, red capsicum, diced cucumber
Hot tip! This is easy and fun for kids to make themselves
Squeeze of lemon or lime
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Optional: chilli, fresh herbs.
Method: use a fork to mash it all together in a bowl
PLATE-TO-MOUTH DELIVERY SERVICE:
Taco shells, burrito wraps, corn chips, lettuce leaves – just use whatever suits your family’s tastes and dietary requirements.
Put everything on the table and let everyone help themselves I usually give each kid their own small bowl of mince mixture, so I know they are at least eating that much (otherwise they might sneak in more chips than goodness)
- The kids love the mess of the shells
- Nowadays, mature Miss 10 also likes to have a tidy burrito-wrap
- Mr 8 loves to make a taco salad with everything in his bowl, topped with crushed corn chips
- I like mine a bit lower-carb so I wrap the fillings into a lettuce leaf (the kids also do this, for variety).
- I also like making a “Taco Bowl” (i.e. salad)
Enjoy! Let me know if you love it!!
Feel free to share the recipe but remember to credit me with a link back to this page, thanks!