Now that we’ve covered how to make your own taco seasoning (better tasting, cheaper and with fewer chemicals than those little store bought packets), I’ve got a veggified recipe that will make taco nights a little healthier for you and any kiddos. My Kiddo is not a big veggie fan, and while sometimes you just have to do the the “finish your green beans” bit, I know it’s hard to eat something you really don’t like. So, I try to work extra “concealed” vegetables in where I can.
The secret to making this recipe work for picky eaters is to make sure you dice your veggies very finely. After you sautee them until they’re soft, the textures and flavors blend so well with the meat and spices that my Kiddo didn’t notice the difference. The lentils add a nice bit of fiber, but their small size and subtle taste also help them blend in. And they’re a lot faster to cook than larger beans. They don’t require pre-soaking and they’re tender after simmering for about 30 minutes.
The other nice benefit to all these hidden veggies is that they bulk up the recipe and help stretch the ground meat (and your family budget). This recipe makes a lot, because I like to go to the work of cutting up all my veggies once and then have a bunch of taco meat to freeze and save for later. Feel free to scale it down if you would like.
Hidden Veggie Tacos
- 3 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (use your favorite color–I think the yellow or orange ones work well for “hiding” veggies because of their more mild flavor)
- 3 large carrots, shredded
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 4 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning
In a small amount of olive oil, sautee onion, pepper and carrots in a Dutch oven over low heat until soft. (Side note–you might notice that I used large frying pan, not a Dutch oven, in my photos. That’s because when I made this particular batch I wasn’t smart enough to think about exactly how much food I was cooking. Unless you scale down the recipe, you’ll find it easier to not accidentally toss meat and vegetables to and fro across the stove if you use a Dutch oven). Add ground meat and brown. If needed, drain excess fat (if you’re using very lean meat, you may not need to do this). Stir in lentils. Add one cup water and taco seasoning, then simmer for five minutes. Serve with your favorite soft or crunchy tortillas and taco toppings.