If it’s Tuesday, it must be Tacos

Several months ago my six-year old came home and announced that he wanted to make Tuesday “Taco Tuesdays”; maybe he’d heard about it at school, or perhaps my son has taken to reading Laurie David’s “The Family Dinner”, I’m not sure.  Nevertheless, because his request was healthy (and easy), we agreed to give it a try.  Since then, we’ve stuck to our Taco Tuesdays religiously – well, almost.

We are all trying to teach our children to make better choices when it comes to food, and one simple way is to involve them in the choice.  Giving them ownership of a weekly meal by picking and naming it creates for them a connection to the food they eat, and the familial experience they eat it in.  And while it may not be Meatless Mondays or Fancy Fridays, Taco Tuesdays – if done right – are pretty fabulous as well.

At our house, Taco Tuesdays are based on a few key ingredients:

  • Start with corn based soft or hard-shelled tortillas (preferably organic). I usually keep them in the freezer, thaw them in the fridge, and warm them up in the toaster before serving.
  • Pick a protein (other than cheese).  My favorite – and fast – go-to option is any type of chopped meat cooked with some sauteed onions, the juice of half a lemon, and a good helping of spices such as cumin, paprika, turmeric and chili pepper. For meat I have used beef, buffalo, chicken, even left over Thanksgiving turkey.
  • If chopped meat doesn’t strike your fancy, you can also use fish, or eggs (scrambled or sunny-side-up).  My sons like tiny quail eggs, as they are better suited to be folded into a tortilla held in their little hands.
  • A great way to extend the protein while adding some fiber to the meal is to add grains to the protein mixture.  I find that yesterday’s rice, millet or quinoa work well.
  • Warm up a can of beans.  (Or, if you have the time, cook them from scratch adding a little cumin to the water, which makes them easier to digest.)  You can serve the beans only tacos if you are interested in a vegetarian meal, or else use them to give a little variety to the meat protein.
  • Add a little shredded cheese, chopped tomato, lettuce, a few slices of avocado and some cilantro for color, crunch and nutrients.
  • Eat and then, go back for more!
  • If all the taco prepping, rolling and holding becomes too cumbersome, combine all ingredients in a bowl, and top with a handful of taco chips and maybe a little vinegar and olive oil.  It makes a great full meal salad.
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