Sunday, July 19, 2009

Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos plus more Meal Ideas!

This past Thursday I had a cooking class. A dessert class to be exact. There is a lot to prepare the day of a cooking class. Not only do I need to make sure I have all of my recipes printed and ready to go, I also need to pack up most of my kitchen to go with me. Then there is the shopping, class, and clean-up. But when there are children involved, and in my case, four of them, I also need to prepare dinner and make sure the house is in order for the babysitter.

And to top it all off, Tom was away in Washington DC attending a Functional Medicine Conference on restoring gastrointestinal equilibrium. Needless to say, he couldn't be there for the class like we had planned. I am sure his time was well spent though!

So dinner? Something easy, make-ahead sort of deal that doesn't require much effort for the sitter. My mind was spinning Thursday morning as to what to make. Bean Soup. No, too hot. Salmon and potatoes. No, too much timing and work for someone else to do. Okay, I got it. I'll slow cook chicken in the oven earlier in the day and shred it for tacos. Make brown rice, cut up cabbage and avocados. Set out tortillas. Done.

It worked and was delicious, though I didn't measure my amounts so my recipe below is just a guesstimate. Though I think with this type of recipe you can't go wrong. Just use your intuitions when measuring. It will be great! :)

We have been enjoying these for lunches the past few days. I added chopped napa cabbage, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes from our garden, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. I snapped these photos yesterday at lunchtime. Read below for more meal ideas.

Slow Cooked Chicken Taco Filling

This recipe can be made ahead of time and then reheated when needed. Extras can also be frozen if needed. I think this recipe may work in a crock pot though I haven't tried it. Use this to fill corn or rice tortillas. Or, one of my favorites, napa cabbage leaves! Add in brown rice, avocado, a squeeze of lime, and cherry tomato halves. Enjoy!

1 Ancho chili, seeded*
1 cup boiling water
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon (add more for a kick) chipotle chili powder
1 to 2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sea salt or Herbamare
3 pounds uncooked chicken breast and/or thigh meat
1 medium onion, diced
3 cups tomato puree*
few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place the ancho chili in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Then place the chili and soaking water into a blender with the garlic, chipotle chili powder, cumin, and salt. Blend on high until pureed.

Place the pureed chili mixture into a large casserole dish with the remaining ingredients. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove cover, stir, and bake for 1 more hour uncovered.

After it is done, use the back of a large spoon to mash the chicken until it begins to fall apart. Taste and add any extra salt or seasonings to bring it up to flavor.

*Notes: I use Bionaturae Strained Tomatoes. Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers. I buy mine in the bulk spice section at my local co-op.

I have recently been asked a number of times for more main dish meal ideas. I do have many, but it is not always practical to stop right before a meal to take a photo or 2 or 3 or 4. If I had more time, and didn't have hungry children waiting for dinner, I probably would post more main dish meals.

Tonight I made an easy dinner of baked halibut, penne pasta (Tinkyada brand), and a quick sauté of veggies from our garden (walla walla onions, summer squash, collards, and kale). Nothing fancy, just simple ingredients, but very nutritious and satisfying.

For the halibut, I grabbed a few small handfuls of herbs from my garden (oregano, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, and chives). I minced these with a few cloves of garlic. After sprinkling the halibut fillet with Herbamare (or sea salt) and black pepper, I added a nice layer of the minced herbs. A few dashes of olive oil and a couple of lemon slices topped it all off. Baked in the oven at 425 until done, about 15 minutes.

Other Main Dish Meal Ideas:

I cook a large pot of beans about once a week. A different bean each week. Black, pinto, pink, or garbanzos usually. Then I incorporate the cooked beans into a meal. Maybe burritos one night, rice and bean bowls for lunch the next day, or a bean soup if it is chilly.

Got any great main meal ideas to share? I am sure others reading would love to hear. If you feel so inclined you can post your ideas in the comment section below. Happy Cooking!

Here are a few other easy meal ideas from my blog:

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Ali, thanks for these great meal ideas. It is nice to have a few stand-by recipes that you can make in a pinch.

    My recipe for Hawaiian Chicken Stirfry is great for using up an assortment of veggies that you have on hand and can be made in 15 minutes (although the brown rice that I serve it with takes longer or needs to be made ahead).

  2. So glad to have found your blog. My daughter was just diagnosed with celiac and, to top it off, my son is severely allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and treenuts.

    Your recipes look great. I've bookmarked you and I'll be back often.

    Angie (from over at

  3. Those taco's look really good and easy!

  4. The tacos are delicious and easy! Now I don't have to use those disgusting pre-package spice packets for tacos! Yay!!! Thank you, Ali!!

  5. Yum, I just love the flavor of the ancho chili! I will try this in my crock pot sometime-thanks Ali :)

  6. Ali and Tom,

    Thanks for these meal ideas, I like easy. Will try the chicken tacos later in the week. Grilled corn on the cob would go well with them. For us, sliced cooked chicken breast on top of greens is an easy meal. We do a lot of salads and grilled meats, especially this time of year.

  7. Aaah, this looks soo good and I love that high chair photo! I enjoy different versions of tacos and it's a great way to use shredded cabbage.

    I cook a pot of beans periodically as well. Have you ever made flageolet beans? I have a bag and think I'll cook them up this weekend. I've never had them before.

    Anyway, great post, Ali. You've inspired me to make tacos. Wish I had gone to that Functional Med Conference in DC. It sounded like a good one. I also wish I could attend one of your cooking classes! You come up with some good recipes.

  8. Eagle Loft - Your recipe for Hawaiian Chicken Stir-Fry looks delicious. I like the soy-free sauce you did there. Thanks for sharing! :)

    All Adither - Thanks, sounds like you have a number of foods that need to be kept out of the house. I am glad I have recipes here that can help. :)

    Pam - Yes, easy is key here. And tasty to boot! :)

    Dot - Thanks, I am so glad you enjoyed them! :)

    Jenna - I would love to hear how these turn out in the crock pot. Enjoy!

    Joyce - Oh I bet grilled corn would be delicious with these. Enjoy!

    Melissa - Tacos are an easy meal and there are so many yummy versions. :) I have never made flageolet beans before. Hmm, now I am curious, I will check them out. I will post a few of the great things that Tom learned at the conference soon. Thanks! :)


  9. We made the slow cooked chicken toco's tonight. I am not kidding- these were unbelievable. We had a big family gathering and what a hit! The flavor was outstanding and so simple to make! I slow cooked about 3.5 pounds for about 3 hours and it was tender and shredded easily.
    This will be a great party meal and I like the crock pot suggestion too.
    Thanks Ali

  10. Deb - Thanks for sharing your changes. This recipe would be a great thing to take to a party. :)

  11. I made the slow cooked chicken tacos and they were a hit! They were also so simple to make!! My boyfriend loved them so much that we had them for dinner two nights in a row and he's asking me when I'm going to make them again. Thanks for the great meal idea...It's simple and versatile. Many thumbs up!

  12. Yum!!! Love the peppers mixed with the chicken. I think it tastes so much better to use the whole peppers like you did. Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

  13. Thank you for this delicious recipe! I made it today using my crockpot and it turned out beautifully. We used the blue corn taco shells along with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and grated raw goat chedder. Thank you for your blog, recipes, and inspiring photography! R

  14. Hi Ali,
    We made this the other night for guests - what a hit! I don't really like chicken all that much, but this was fabulous! So good that I'm making a second batch (sent all of my leftovers home with our guests) to freeze for those quick night meals (if it even makes it to the freezer). This is definitely going to be one of our regulars.

  15. We made your slow cooked chicken tacos for dinner tonight. I've been reading your blog for awhile but hadn't tried any recipes. We ended up making a modified version. My 4 year put his palm down on the hot burner while I was blending the chili mixture. In tending his burn the can of tomatoes wasn't getting opened nor the onion getting diced. So I just threw the chili belnd on the chicken (we used organic thighs) and put it in the oven so that dinner would be ready in time for the older kids to make it to evening activiies. Everyone loved it! Even my 10 month old couldn't get enough. I think next time I will double or triple the recipe and freeze. I have a family of 7 so this is perfect for us. Thank you so much.

  16. Hi Ali, Your tacos look yummy! I have a question though, what kind of tortillas do you use? I have been trying to find some good ones and I havent run into any I really like and that are gluten free. Thanks! Cara

  17. Cara - Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas are gluten-free and yummy! Hopefully you can find these where you live. :)

  18. Ali, I LOVE your recipe book and this site, but can something be done about the search feature? It barely works! I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but just now I searched from the main page for "taco" and got "no results"... yet here we are looking at a recipe for tacos!

    Anyway, this one is one of my favorites, thanks so much for everything.

  19. Evaline - I have no idea what is going on with the search feature, it bugs me too! I do need to have someone technical look into it, thanks for the reminder. :)

  20. What can you do with the left over sauce?? I made the slow cooked chicken last night. The sauce is so flavorful, and there is so much left.
    Can it be made into a soup? Any ideas?

  21. You may already be aware, these are not gluten free, as they use malted barley in the filtered water. GLuten free Mall pulled them as well. If you are sensitive to gluten, I would recommend you call the company, or google the information.
    See below:
    Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas are gluten-free and yummy! Hopefully you can find these where you live. :)

  22. Is ancho chile the dried one or the big, green fresh one? I want to make these for dinner tonight.

  23. Any idea what the macros are for this dish? Like the nutrition facts that are always on the back of things? Lol


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)