I love tacos. As a kid, I was so excited when my mom told me it was taco night. I remember the taco shells nested together in the oven, the little bowls of shredded cheese and salsa, and of course the yummy taco meat. As delicious as this meal was, it was made using the packaged taco kits, which included huge amounts of sodium, partially hydrogenated oils, msg, and a host of other scary chemicals and preservatives. As you can probably guess, I just can’t bring myself to eat this kind of food anymore. Which means I had to find a replacement – a way to enjoy tacos without compromising my standards for what I will put into my family’s bodies. I tried improvising by just seasoning ground beef with chili powder and cumin, but it never tasted very good. I looked for recipes, and was having a hard time finding something simple enough and with the same flavor profile as the taco seasoning packets of my youth (and even my early 20’s!).
I finally came across this recipe on MyRecipes.com, originally from the magazine Southern Living. It has a simple enough ingredient list, is made all in one pan, and, as a bonus, includes beans. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of beans, but appreciate how healthy they are and am trying to find ways to incorporate them into my diet. Plus, in a recipe like this, they help the meat to go further, helping us to be less dependent on animal sources of protein – a good thing for our health and the environment.
adapted from Southern Living
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef (grass-fed if possible)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
In a large skillet, sautee onions in olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they start to soften. Add ground beef, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Break up meat and cook until no longer pink and onions are soft.
Add beans and use a fork or potato masher to mash the pinto beans, leaving some of them whole if you want. Add tomato sauce, salsa, and water to the pan. If mixture is very thick already, add up to 1/4 additional water. Once the mixture comes to a boil, simmer over low heat until thick, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Serve in whole grain tortillas/wraps, taco shells, or over salad greens (like in my photo) with whatever toppings you like. We used additional salsa, cheddar cheese, and avocado with some whole grain blue corn chips on the side. Other ideas are lettuce, diced tomatoes, and sour cream – whatever makes you happy!
Makes approximately 6 servings.