I was so inspired by the Perfect Turkey Burger recipe which included mushrooms that I thought I'd apply the concept to other dishes too.
One of my nearly 3 year old son's (Cooper) favorite dishes are tacos and it also happens to be the main topic of one of his favorite books and a great read for all ages, Dragons Love Tacos. (And you can find matching PJ's! I digress...)
So naturally when I want to have a night of guaranteed success at the table, tacos will be the day's special. In general tacos are crowd pleasers and pretty simple to prepare in a pinch. As a dietitian, I'm always thinking about the nutritional value of the meals I prepare for my fam and tacos have their pluses and minuses.
The nutritional downside is that taco seasonings are often very high in salt and ground beef high in fat, which I've remedied in the recipe below. The upside is toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, avocado and cheese can enhance our nutritional intake, but Cooper only likes avocado and cheese from that list leaving me without a great option for a veggie at dinner. Enter the magical mushroom.
Research actually supports mushrooms improve the taste profile of ground meat even when the salt content is reduced. So I confidently ignored my husband's comment to "go easy" on the mushrooms when he saw me mincing the mushrooms in the mini chop food processor. As an aside, my intention isn't to "trick" my family by blenderizing veggies into recipes, but since the mind is a powerful tool, sometimes its best told after the fact to avoid predisposed biases. Plus for those of you that have children under 2, it's the prime time to introduce all types of foods because it leads to greater food acceptance down the road. And it's perfectly natural for kids to become more picky starting around age 2 when they enter the neophobic stage and are learning to exert their independence.
In good health,
Time Saving Tips:
Prep the mushrooms and onions while the ground beef cooks.
Prep all the taco ingredients on a large cutting board and let the family pick from there instead of placing in individual bowls to reduce dirty dishes.
Measure leftover tomato paste in tablespoon portions, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for future use.
Magical Beef Tacos
1 lb. 92% lean ground beef (I actually used 1.25 lbs.)
8 oz. mushrooms (caps and stems), cleaned and finely minced
1/2 cup diced red onions
2 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, oregano and Kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp. water
12 taco shells
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 small head chopped romaine lettuce
4 oz shredded cheese
In a large skillet on medium high heat, add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until it has lost it's pink color. Add minced mushrooms, diced onions and all seasonings and cook for 5 minutes, until onions are softened. Reduce heat to medium, adding tomato paste and water, cook for 5-7 minutes until taco meat is thickened.
Serve with taco toppings and shells.
Bonus topping (If including, start this while you're preparing the taco meat)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1/3 cup diced red onions
2 tsp. garlic powder
In a small saucepan on high heat, bring black beans and liquid, onions and garlic powder to a boil and let simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.