Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crunchy Turkey Tacos with a Side of Innocence

 At the grocery store today, my kids were as loud as these Crunchy Turkey Tacos. (And these tacos are loud -- oven-baked crispy shells with only 151 calories per serving.) My one daughter was sitting in the cart while the other one ran circles around her. The one in the cart thought that was hysterical. Running circles? Come on. That's the stuff of comedic legends. They could not stop laughing.

Since this happens quite often and I have resigned to the fact that my children are in fact going to act like children, I tune it out and go on my merry way. As long as they are not being disrespectful in any way, seriously, what is the harm of a few good laps around a cart and some intense giggling?

I was in the bread aisle, intent on scrutinizing labels when a woman came up next to me and said, "They have the cutest laughs." I, of course, rolled my eyes in a good-natured way that said, yeah, you wouldn't be saying that if 97% of your day was filled with this. But then she said, "No really. I just love their giggles. My kids are in high school. I really miss these days. All of the giggles. The plain happiness. I really miss it."

As she said this, she was looking wistfully at my kids and I shifted my head to look at them and it was weird: I saw them through her eyes. I heard them through her ears. They were little kids who right at that very moment were so innocent that they were 100% happy without one single care in the world; their giggles were true giggles, not one ounce of insincerity in them. They were happy. Truly happy and absolutely lovely in their innocence.

I turned back to her and nodded my head in understanding, afraid if I were to say anything, just one thing, I may start to cry. Because at that very moment, I didn't want my kids to grow up. I didn't want them to feel failure and heart break. I didn't want them to know what it feels like to be disappointed or embarrassed or self-conscious. I wanted to freeze time and stay in that very moment forever. Since I couldn't do that, I wanted to bottle up what they were giving off right then and there and I wanted to put it away for a very special day when I could pull it out of a drawer, from beneath old pairs of underwear and say: Here, take this. Breathe it in, pour it over you. Immerse yourself in it. This is innocence. This is happiness. You had it once many many years ago and I am giving it back to you because now you know, you finally realize that there is nothing quite like it.

Crunchy Turkey Tacos

These tacos are lean, mean Cinco de Mayo machines (or any day and any month of the year machines). By combining ground turkey and mushrooms, you're left with a very meaty flavor without all of the fat that comes from beef.

Clocking in at only 151 calories per taco, they are gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free. But they are not, thank heavens, free of taste.

Makes About 10 Tacos (1/4 cup each of meat)


1/2 tablepsoon grapeseed oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey thigh
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3 campari tomatoes diced (or 8 oz of fresh diced tomatoes)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 white corn tortillas
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion. Season with salt and cook until soft.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the turkey meat and cook until no longer pink. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes.

Cook until the mushrooms are slightly soft. Add the chili powder through the salt and simmer until most of the liquid is gone, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Spray one side of each tortilla with cooking spray (about 1 second per side). Season with kosher salt.

Place two tortillas in the microwave for 25 second to soften. (I did this on a napkin I kept in the microwave.)

Using a loaf pan, hang each tortilla on the handle side of the loaf pan.

For a much thinner tortilla, hang on the non-handle side. I tried all sorts of variations and found that the handle side of a regular loaf pan produced the best crunchy tortilla. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until very golden and crunchy. Take out of oven and spoon 1/4 cup of meat into the shell. Top with desired toppings, although I don’t think it needs anything! Taco meat can be frozen.

This taco offers the best of both worlds -- crunchy outer shell and tasty, soft meat, without the fat from frying and from beef.

The night after we had these tacos, my husband was gearing up for his second dinner of the night (do all men do this?) and he asked what we had leftover. I said turkey tacos. He said, "Turkey? Those pockets of awesomeness had turkey in it?"

Yep, fool 'em when you can ladies (and gents). Fool 'em when you can.

Nutrition Information Per Taco Using 1/4 Cup Meat and 1 Tortilla: Calories 151; Total Fat 5g; Total Carb 15g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 1g; Protein 11g

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  1. This is so smart!! I just showed this to my husband and we both were amazed. We are definitely going to make our taco shells like this everytime! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I felt the same way after I tasted it -- why the heck did I wait so long to do this! SO simple!


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