Taco night!

Who doesn’t love taco night?!

Yum.

This was Tuesdays night’s dinner, and I’m still thinking about it (and looking forward to having leftovers for lunch today!). I’m a big fan of Mexican food, period. I love tacos, fajitas, enchiladas… you name it! What I also love is how easy it is to make Mexican food “healthy.” Not everything has to be slathered in cheese or deep-fried to taste good. To me, it’s all about fresh, simple flavors along with the right amount of spice.

The last few times I’ve made tacos, I’ve used tempeh, tofu or chickpeas as a protein source. But on this particular Tuesday, I was craving meat instead. I had bought some ground turkey breast at Whole Foods over the weekend, so I grabbed that and got to work.

As you probably know, meat can be expensive. Especially if you’re super picky like me, and only like to purchase free-range/organic meat. This ground turkey happened to be $6.99/lb., and I’ll honestly say that I’ve paid more for it in the past. For me, it’s totally worth it to spend a little more- I can easily get two or three meals out of this one pound of meat. My secret? Bulk up the meat with other ingredients.

I always bulk up ground meat (whether it’s beef, chicken, turkey, whatever…) with onions and mushrooms. This not only adds volume, but it also keeps leaner cuts of meat moist that would otherwise get really dry. I also use this combo in my bulked-up burgers and burrito bowls. I cooked the onions and mushrooms in a pan first, and then set them aside and browned 8 oz of the turkey (1/2 of the package). Then, everything gets added together.

I usually make my own taco seasoning, but have a few packs of pre-made seasoning on hand for nights where I’m lazy (like Tuesday). I used a little bit of this (which was all that was needed!) to add to the turkey/mushroom/onion mix:

I generally buy soft corn tortillas for tacos, but saw spotted some hard taco shells at Whole Foods last weekend that I thought would be great for a future taco night. I got them along with a can of refried black beans.

I don’t remember ever having refried black beans before- I’m pretty sure the variety that I usually have is pinto. But these were great!

I made a batch of salsa fresca (using mostly yellow tomatoes- hence the odd color)

This is my absolute favorite pre-made salsa! I put it on everything.

Greg cooked up some rice for himself, and I roasted a little bit of zucchini with a little garlic and chili powder for me. I topped the black beans with some plain Greek yogurt, which was a fantastic combination!

The other thing I love about Mexican food? It is super filling! This was all I could handle- and it kept me satisfied for the rest of the night! I even had enough turkey left over for a whole extra meal- which is pretty impressive for only 8 oz. to begin with.

Do you like Mexican food? Any tips for “bulking up” more expensive or calorie-laden ingredients?

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23 Comments on “Taco night!”

  1. Corrie Anne says:

    We love Mexican night! I should totally make it a weeknight tradition. I feel the same way about buying meat. Haha. I can’t help but feel like it’s super expensive!! I saw a few recipes yesterday for adding quinoa to tacos. Here’s one: http://sometimesiveg.com/2011/08/black-bean-and-quinoa-tacos/
    Worth a try! Although that’s not super cheap either.

  2. nssweetlife says:

    OMG… I LOVE Mexican food. YUMMMMMMMMMMM!! It’s my absolute favorite. I could probably eat it every day. That salsa you made looks delish!! I also love me some mango salsa in the summer. And don’t get me started on fish tacos!!!!

    But alas, my hubby doesn’t like Mexican food (serious BIG sadface) 😦

    So I often eat it for lunch while I’m at work.

    -Kelly

    • Lauren says:

      Oh MAN! What is wrong with dear hubby?! How can you rule out an entire culture of food?! I’m lucky to be married to a man that will eat ANYTHING and everything (and often does).
      I am a little obsessed with fish tacos… if you know of a good place in Colorado, I’m all ears!

  3. Gil says:

    I swear by recipes in Cooks Illustrated, and they say you can remove the skins from cooked lima beans, blend them to a puree, and add it to ‘bulk up’ guacamole with more protein and fiber and cut fat. They say the difference in taste/texture is negligible, but I havent tried it yet!
    Also, I hate when people say they “can’t afford” ethically sourced meat. No, you just have different priorities, which is totally OK. But OWN your priorities and be confident in them. And if you can’t, they might need to be reexamined…

  4. I had tacos last night after craving them for days! Just some seasoned black beans, a little cheese, and olives. Simplicity at its best!

    I also buy the “good stuff” as we call it in my house so when its on sale I stock up on it to freeze. So easy and makes portioning really easy too.

    • Lauren says:

      I’ve added a little seasoning to black beans or chickpeas for a quick taco salad to pack for many lunches.
      We really need to get a separate freezer to store the bulk stuff- it’s so much cheaper that way!

  5. glowkitchen says:

    I love your blog. I also am loving the colors of this meal. I usually add a lot of avocado and lettuce to bulk up and stretch out the lifespan of expensive ingredients.

  6. Mmmmm TASTY!! I LOVE Mexican food topped with gobs of Greek yogurt. YUMM

  7. biz319 says:

    Tonight is my taco night – woot! Yep, could eat it every day and never get sick of it. I do “Pam” fry my corn tortillas to make them crispy – so good!

  8. Yummm. I LOVE Mexican food, and I really love the idea of “bulking” up the meat so you don’t have to use as much. I’ll for sure be trying this trick…meat is expensive!
    I bought refried black beans on accident once and never looked back, they are so delicious.

  9. Errign says:

    I love Mexican night. I like adding brown rice and making my own taco seasoning with cumin and chili powder and salt and pepper.

    • Lauren says:

      I’ll have to try that combo- the blend I use has about 10 ingredients- some of which I’m sure can be left out and it wouldn’t make a difference.

  10. Lee says:

    I’ve used that Trader Joe’s taco seasoning before and it’s great. No weird ingredients like some other brands.

    I am a huge fan of Old El Paso refried beans. It borderlines on obsession really.

  11. I love Mexican food! Anything to get salsa into my mouth 🙂

  12. Meghan says:

    I just stumbled onto your blog. GO RED SOX. I thought I would share this with you, we switched from meat to this for our tacos. We use the TJ’s taco seasoning too, just mix with water and lime juice for the chickpea’s. Can’t even tell the difference 🙂 http://peasandthankyou.com/2010/08/01/like-looking-in-the-mirror/


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