Monday, June 20, 2011

Recipe for Spicy Beef and Black Bean Soft Tacos with Cucumber, Tomato, and Lime Salsa

These Spicy Beef and Black Bean Tacos are healthier and maybe tastier than the ones mom used to make.

When I was a kid I loved my mom's tacos.   One thing that made them so good was the way mom would get the oil very hot in her cast iron frying pan and quickly fry the corn tortillas to make shells, folding them over to be filled with spicy taco meat, lots of grated cheese, lettuce, hot sauce, and sometimes tomatoes or olives when the family budget was flush.  When we ate mom's tacos, we had to hold them over a plate because so much grease would drip out!  

Now flash forward *quite* a few years later, and I still love to make tacos, but my recipe is much different.  These days I make tacos into a more healthful meal by using lower-glycemic whole wheat flour tortillas instead of corn, choosing low-fat ground beef and low-fat cheese, adding black beans for more fiber, and using a cucumber, tomato, and lime salsa to bump up the vegetables in the meal.   Even though these tacos are much different than the tasty-but-greasy ones mom used to make, I promise you, they're quite delicious!

Heat oil in a heavy frying pan, add ground beef and about 2 T Kalyn's Taco Seasoning Mix (or your favorite brand) and cook until the meat is well browned.

While the meat cooks, rinse canned black beans with cold water and let them drain well.

When the meat is browned, add the black beans and one cup of water and let the mixture simmer until the water is evaporated.  (Taste to see if you want more taco seasoning; I added one more tablespoon.)

While the meat-bean mixture simmers, chop cucumbers into very small pieces.

And cut up one cup of diced tomatoes.

Mix the diced cucumbers and tomatoes, chopped cilantro, sliced green onion, Green Tabasco Sauce, and lime juice to make the salsa.

I like these small six-inch flour tortillas for taco shells, but you can also use larger ones if you prefer.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave between two moist paper towels.  (This takes barely a minute; don't leave them in there too long.)  As soon as you take tortillas out of the microwave, fold them in half.

Open tortillas, cover one half with spicy taco and black bean mixture, and top with grated cheese.

Then spoon a generous amount of salsa mixture over this, fold tortillas over and eat!  (See suggestions in the recipe for other optional toppings.)

Spicy Beef and Black Bean Soft Tacos with Cucumber, Tomato, and Lime Salsa
(Makes 8 small tacos with six-inch tortilla shells; recipe created by Kalyn.)

1 lb. ground beef (10% fat or less)
1 tsp. olive oil (or slightly more, depending on your pan)
2-3 T Kalyn's Taco Seasoning Mix (or use your favorite packaged taco seasoning)
1 can (15 oz.) black beans
3 mini-cucumbers, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups chopped cucumber)
1 cup finely chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 tsp. Green Tabasco Sauce
2 T fresh lime juice
3/4 - 1 cup grated lowfat cheese (I used mozzarella but this would also be good with Four Cheese Mexican Blend)
8 small whole wheat tortillas (six-inch size, or use the size you prefer)

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat, add the ground beef, crumbling apart with your fingers as you put it in the pan, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning mix, and cook until the meat is well browned, about 5 minutes.  (Use a metal turner to break the ground beef apart more as it cooks.)

While the meat cooks, put black beans into a colander placed in the sink, rinse with cold water until no more foam appears, and let beans drain.  When beef is brown, add black beans and 1 cup of water, turn down heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until all the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.  (Taste the mixture and see if you want add more taco seasoning; I added one more tablespoon when I started simmering the meat.)

While the meat simmers, finely chop the cucumbers and tomatoes, chop cilantro (if using), and slice green onions.  Put those ingredients in a medium-sized plastic bowl and stir in the Green Tabasco Sauce and lime juice to make the salsa.

When the meat is ready, get spray water bottle and two paper towels to use when heating the tortillas.  Put one paper towel on a plate, spray with a little bit of water, put 4 tortillas on top of the towel, cover with second towel, and spray the top with a little more water.  Put the plate in the microwave and cook 45 seconds to one minute, just until the tortillas feel hot to the touch.  Remove tortillas from microwave and immediately fold each in half.  (You can also wrap the tortillas in foil and heat in a toaster over for about 15 minutes if you don't have a microwave.)

Fill one side of each tortilla with the beef and black bean mixture and sprinkle on some grated cheese; then spoon on a generous amount of the salsa mixture.  Fold tortillas over to eat.

Other toppings that might be good on these tacos include extra hot sauce, light sour cream or fat-free Greek yogurt, guacamole or sliced avocado, or sliced black olives. 

South Beach Suggestions:
If made with whole wheat flour tortillas, low-fat ground beef, and low-fat cheese, these tacos would be a good choice for Phase 2 or 3 of the  South Beach Diet (or any other kind of low-glycemic eating plan.)  If you add toppings like sour cream, guacamole, or olives, use sparingly for phase 2.

More Taco-Flavored Ideas with Beef and/or Black Beans:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Taco Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Perfect Taco Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Taco Pizza with Refried Black Beans from Eclectic Recipes
Taco Casserole from Healthy. Delicious
Taco Pie from Make and Bake
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. Funny thing is that I have had a craving lately for tacos! That will now be satisfied with this awesome recipe

  2. First of all, I'm loving that you bulked up the beef with some beans! Makes it go a lot farther and adds some great texture!

    Second of all, this just goes to show you that you don't have to give up childhood favorites if you want to eat just have to modify them a bit!

  3. Yum! Love the addition of cucumber! These look lovely.

  4. That is a healthy tacos and i am glad you made this, i like tacos and most of the time I love it with lots of cheese but I know it is not good for the health.

  5. Kalyn, I will try these tortillas - I only bought whole wheat type tortillas once and they were pathetic, but it was a different brand, I don't remember now which it was (it's been a while)

    I was going to ask you for the specific brand, but then I saw the photo, I'm trying them for sure

  6. These tacos are so pretty with that colorful salsa. We like to add black beans to our tacos, too - great flavor and a hit of low-fat protein.

  7. Thanks everyone. I'm eating one of these tacos for breakfast right now!

  8. Oooh, I was thinking how good leftovers would be for breakfast (for me with a sunny side egg over them) when I saw your comment about breakfast!

  9. These are my kind of tacos! I love the idea of the lime salsa to kick up the flavor. I like to use Joseph's low-carb oat bran tortillas these days for my tacos and quesadillas. They're not very sturdy, but they're low calorie *and* low carb.

  10. Oh my god Kalyn!! This looks delicious!! I started Phase 1 of SBD today. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up with it for 2 weeks...Your blog is a great resource!! I am going to be trying a lot of recipes these two weeks :)

  11. Those tacos look fresh and beautiful. I love your addition of cucumber- a lovely, cooling element.

  12. Susie, like that idea of an egg on this!

    Lydia, I wish I could get Joseph's low carb tortillas here; they are so good!

    Sushma, good luck. You can do it and you'll be glad you did.

    Christie, thanks for stopping by.

    Karina, love those baby cucumbers!

  13. I can see putting the mixture into lettuce leaves if I'm feeling like I don't want carbs with the tortillas. Yum.

  14. Yes, I'd love this in lettuce leaves too.

  15. I made these tacos Tuesday night and thought they were kids appeared to like them, but didn't say much. Today I asked my son what he wanted to order out for dinner (a usual Saturday night thing) and he begged me to make the tacos again...I guess he liked them. I just used a packaged taco mix, but that salsa was incredible! It just goes so well with the meat! I'll try making the spice mix next time.

  16. Tim, that's fun to hear. Glad they were a hit with the kids!

  17. 1: I found this recipe from you on Pinterset, along w/other recipes from you. Because we're vegetarian (mostly)I used two 8oz packages of fresh mushrooms instead of ground beef and OMG DELISH! I threw the mushrooms in my food processor to "look like" ground beef for my picky members.
    2: As I said, I found you on Pinterest and I have made several of your recipes, mostly converted to vegan and...I'm on Weight Watchers. You do a GREAT JOB and thank you for food inspiration!

  18. I love the idea of making these vegetarian with chopped mushrooms; great idea! Thanks for sharing and glad you are enjoying the recipes.


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