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Spice Doctor

Tacos are a mainstay in our house.  They’re satisfying, pretty balanced, and super fast — the weeknight dinner trifecta as far as I’m concerned.  We generally make them with beef, topped with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, salsa and shredded cheese, and wrapped in either soft corn tortillas or big pieces of crisp lettuce.

I’ve been doing the weeknight taco routine for years — running into the house carrying a computer, running shoes and about 14 pieces of children’s artwork, pouring some pistachios into a bowl so the kids and husband don’t melt down, grabbing thawed meat out of fridge and throwing it into a pan, and reaching into spice drawer for the magic taco seasoning.  You know the seasoning I mean — the orange-y stuff with the pretty picture of a taco on the front? The stuff that’s actually not very good for you?  The powder that’s loaded with salt and often sugar too?  The stuff I promise myself I won’t eat but end up using because I “only need a tiny bit of it?” Yup, that’s the stuff.

Last week was a turning point.  With the meat already sizzling in the pan, I realized we were out of magic taco powder and I was going to have to improvise.  After consulting a few recipes on the web and surveying my own spice drawer, I came up with the following recipe:

Taco Seasoning (inspired by Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19)

  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper

I also mixed some salsa in with the ground beef to add moisture and flavor.  This seasoning mix was much tastier than any packaged mix and much more consistent with my effort to eat a real food diet.  Not too spicy, not too bland…just right.  I’ve officially kissed seasoning in a pouch goodbye and am inspired by how easy little changes like this one are to make.

What’s your favorite quick and healthy fix?  I’d love more ideas like this one!

P.S. If you’re looking for other easy weeknight dinners, here’s what’s on our menu this week:

  • Monday – Leftover vegetable soup, brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan (and pita for the kids)
  • Tuesday – Veggie and cheese omelettes, roasted potatoes, smoothies
  • Wednesday – Gluten-free penne with meatballs and salad
  • Thursday – Curried chicken and spinach over rice

Bon Appetit!

Photo by Amit Burstein, via Flickr Creative Commons.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. that’s funny! We just had taco’s last night and I have been using that same easy recipe for mine. Amazing how simple it is to make your own, will never buy again. The other thing I do is make my own flour tortillas…so depending on how long you cook them, you either have something harder or softer (like a fajita maybe). So easy, just flour, baking powder, salt, a fat of your choice and hot water…. 🙂 I also saute onions and some other veggie for more filler: last night we had the onions with mushrooms and eggplant but whatever season it is and whatever veggie is around you could mix it too, along w/the beef….love the wrapped in lettuce and avocado idea too. Will have to add that.

    February 11, 2014
  2. Can I come over for dinner at your house? Yum! Tacos are also a weeknight staple at our house. It’s been a great vehicle to get my girls to try out new vegetables. We’re big fans of roasted red peppers and spinach on the tacos.

    February 11, 2014
  3. Here in Austin, you can pretty much live on tacos alone, and trust me, this is not a bad thing. But high-quality spices will help you out! Penzey’s Spices has some of the best spices around–and they ship!–to help make your own spice concoctions.

    February 11, 2014
  4. Ack, I’m allergic to chilis, cayenne, paprika and pretty much any tasty spice, so my tacos are bland, bland, bland. I MISS REAL TACOS. Frowny face. xox

    February 13, 2014
  5. Love this suggestion. I went through a similar process with salad dressing a few years back realizing how easy it is to mix my own. What a wonderful way to tell the food industry…we don’t want your processed foods.

    February 18, 2014

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