Flavorful Soft Tacos

Hearty winter meals such as stews, soups and chili are easy to make in large quantities and later re-heat for another meal. Although cooks love the time-saving quality of leftovers, many people dislike eating the same meal two days in a row.

The problem can easily be solved with what I call “planned-overs.” By simply adding a few key ingredients to the original recipe, you can create a completely different dish. Or, sometimes simply changing the presentation of the meal will make it special. Cooks can also save time by cooking some extra meat, chicken, fish or tofu, which can be turned into a hearty salad or other dish for lunch or dinner the next day.

Our taco filling recipe, for example, can be transformed into several simple meals with just a few changes:

Taco filling + beans and more tomatoes = Chili
Taco filling + polenta or cornbread = Tamale Pie


Ingredients & Methods

Makes 4 servings

Flavorful Soft Tacos

2 teaspoons canola oil

½ cup minced onions

1 fresh jalapeño, minced

1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes with the liquid, or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces ground turkey or lean ground beef, or vegetarian ground round*

1—2 teaspoons chili powder

½—1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

Optional: 1/3 cup roasted shelled pumpkin seeds

4 large lettuce leaves or 4 corn tortillas

1 cup shredded cabbage

¼ cup sliced radishes

½ cup crumbly Mexican-style cheese or other cheese

¼ cup taco sauce


Nutrition at a Glance (per serving)



Total fat


Saturated fat


Total carbohydrate


Dietary fiber





  • In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions for about 2 minutes, then add the jalapeño, tomatoes and garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the onions are softened. Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • To the onion mixture, add the ground turkey and spices, and cook until turkey is browned, stirring to separate it into small bits. Mix in the lemon and lime juice and pumpkin seeds.
  • Heat tortillas on a plate in the microwave or conventional oven until softened.
  • To assemble the tacos, place ¼ of the meat mixture in a corn tortilla or lettuce leaf; top with ¼ of the cabbage, radishes and cheese. Top with a little taco sauce, if desired.

*Vegetarian ground round is made from soy protein and is sold precooked and ready to eat. It can be sautéed just like the ground turkey or beef, or you can add it at the end of the recipe.

** Carbohydrate content is for tacos wrapped in lettuce leaves. Each corn tortilla adds 13g of carbohydrate.

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