Homemade Taco Seasoning


Use gluten-free homemade taco seasoning instead of store-bought – so easy to make and no additives!


In addition to craving Chinese food lately, tacos have also creeped their way up to the top of my must-eat list. Nothing sounds better right now than a straight up hot & crispy taco with tons of ice-cold toppings and infinite amounts of shredded cheddar cheese. RIGHT?! (No, I’m not pregnant!)

At the same time, I also have a craving for fitting into my bikini next month, and have been attempting to cut back on carbs starting this week. It’s…not going well.

Everything has carbs!

Well, everything I like, anyway. Cereal, fruit, cereal, Chobani, cereal, popcorn, cereal, the 12-packs of King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls Ben won’t stop buying on his way home from work, and did I mention cereal?

RIP Whole Hearts.

Still wanting to satisfy my latest craving, I met myself halfway and whipped up a hot and crispy taco for dinner tonight, but traded carb-laden taco shells, for low-carb endive leaves.

I’m calling them Low-Carb Taco Boats, and they are JUST the ticket! The endive leaves are super crunchy and actually hold up better than regular corn tortilla shells, which can get soggy and fall apart. Plus their mild taste really lets the toppings shine through. Plus, plus (!) I seasoned the meat with my own homemade taco seasoning. It’s SO simple and there’s no additives like caking agents you’ll sometimes find in store bought blends. Love that!


Start the taco boats by getting the endive “boats” ready. I picked up a pack of endive from Trader Joe’s that included two regular heads and one purple head. Since we’re need a pretty sturdy “boat” to hold all the taco fillings, I stuck to the regular endive as the purple is tre delicate.

Cut the stem end off the endive and peel back the leaves, then wash and pat them dry. That’s it! Boats = ready.

Next, prepare the taco filling by browning and crumbling 1lb lean ground beef. I use a potato masher to get my ground beef uniformly crumbly, btw. I don’t know how or why this works – all we need to know is that it does. :)

Drain the cooked ground beef, return it to the pan, then hit it with a homemade taco seasoning blend that combines chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder with other seasonings like cumin, paprika and oregano. Sprinkle the blend in with 1/4 cup water, and mix it with the ground beef.

Taco Boat assembly is next! Lay out a variety of toppings, taco-bar style, which could include tomatoes, salsa, cheddar cheese, green onion, red onion, and crumbled goat cheese.


Spoon some taco meat into the endive leaves, then add any combination of toppers that you like!


Homemade Taco Seasoning

seasons 1lb meat


Use gluten-free homemade taco seasoning instead of store-bought - so easy to make and no additives!


  • 2-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon regular or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Mix together seasonings, then add to 1lb cooked and drained ground beef with 1/4 cup water. Mix well.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Crunch-tastic, people – and so fun to eat!

DSC_0311 DSC_0312

I loved the healthy feeling I got from eating this meal, not just because I swapped regular taco shells for fresh endive leaves, but also because I made my own taco seasoning mix. It made me feel so deliciously suzy homemaker! ;)


In other news, this is the kind of March madness I can get behind!

It reached a crazy-high temp of 74 degrees this afternoon and although the wind was blowing something fierce, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hit the trail and run a challenging 4 miler outside after work. It was paradise!

Hot sun, cool breeze, and half the city alongside. I’ll know I’ll hate myself in the morning when I wake up with stiff knees from running on uneven, hilly ground for the first time in ages, but it was totally worth it.

In case the weather isn’t as favorable where you are, try this treadmill routine I’ve been running over and over (and over and over) at the gym lately. It’s just hard enough, goes super quick, and incorporates an awesome 10 minute HIIT section which allows your body to blast calories long after you’re done.

(click image to print larger)

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As glorious as my trail run was today, I’m sure I’ll be back in the gym running through this guy tomorrow when the rain and snow are supposed to return. Oh, Midwest, you fickle wench! Until then, Ben opened up the front and back doors, and the most luxurious breeze is airing out the house. Ahhh, it feels so good to have the heat off!

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Think we might head out for a nice, evening walk. :)

Have a great night!


Cast your vote! Hard shell, soft shell, or taco salad?

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  1. You never cease to amaze me with your spin on healthy recipes! LOVE!

  2. alissa 03.06.2012

    this recipe looks amazing! also, wish i’d seen it yesterday, as we had good ol’ fashioned fatty tacos…but, totally planning this for next time- thanks! :)

  3. Karin 03.06.2012

    Love the recipe! How creative with endive. I will have to try it.
    Sounds like heavenly weather there. Enjoy!

  4. kellyo 03.06.2012

    Backhoe them into your mouth…hilarious!!!! And they look delicious.

  5. Looks awesome!! So colorful!

  6. Julia 03.06.2012

    This recipe totally made me smile! I already pinned it to my Pinterest board & will definitely be trying it out for dinner next week! Thanks for your awesome creativity! I’m also having trouble with staying low-carb so this recipe was pretty inspiring! If you have any more low-carb tips or recipes I’d love to hear about them! :)

  7. Kelly 03.06.2012

    Ingenious! I love those endive taco shells!

  8. Lindsey 03.06.2012

    Want these now! :)

  9. lisa 03.06.2012

    I never thought to use goat cheese on tacos, sounds interesting. I like the endive idea too, clever.

  10. Claire 03.06.2012

    Great idea! I’ve never used endive in cooking before. Question: where is that very cute wine rack from??

    • Jen 03.07.2012

      I bought mine from IKEA & it looks like we have the same one :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.07.2012

      It’s from IKEA, and I think they still sell it!

  11. Olivia 03.06.2012

    Omg I loveeee that Tostitos restaurant salsa. It’s pretty new here in Canada. Cannot get enough. MM tacos.

  12. Dia 03.06.2012

    Love this! I have also been eyeing my swimsuit and have decided the non-stop carb parade must come to a close with winter! Do you have any recommendations for a good low-carb recipe resource (in addition to you of course!) I can’t seem to find a really good cookbook or website that does easy, creative and flavorful low-carb…like your taco boats!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.07.2012

      Hmmm – I’d start with SkinnyTaste.com. She posts nutritionals for each recipe so you’ll be able to tell right away if it’s a low-carb recipe!

  13. Amy M 03.06.2012

    Love that make your own taco seasoning! I just started doing that too, and I feel so much better knowing exactly what’s going into the beef and controlling the sodium content. I vote soft shell corn tortillas every time!

  14. Lauren 03.06.2012

    What a great idea! Love it!

  15. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an endive as a whole like that – neat idea! I’ve only had it chopped up in salads.

  16. Rachel 03.06.2012

    Puffy taco shells like they have at Tasty Tacos :)

  17. Ahh cereal is the culprit of us all! And hawaiian sweet rolls are one of my childhood faves. I would always smash them flat and then eat them.

    These boats are super creative, love it!

  18. Great idea!

    I am usually a soft shell person when it comes to tacos. MMMMM….

  19. Vicki 03.06.2012

    Love your site. I tried the super foods salad–wow.

    I vote soft shell then taco salad, but considering giving Endive a try. My husband and I try new things now that we are empty nesters.

  20. I am your newest fan! I am formally from a farm in Iowa and living in sunny so. calif. I love your blog. My inlaws from down under are coming in and they are gluten free. This is a brilliant idea that I will serve to them. Keep up the great job.
    p.s. thanks for making a homemade taco seasoning and not using a package. I so appreciate that.

  21. Colleen 03.06.2012

    great way to make tacos on taco tuesdays. today is a great day to grab ice cream.

  22. Dee 03.06.2012

    I like hard shells if I go out for tacos but at home I do flour tortillas most of the time.

  23. I love endive! I make special trips to Trader Joe’s to get them!

  24. Emily 03.06.2012

    Crunchy, fried flour shells for me. Also, it’s not tacos without guacamole!

  25. 74?! I’m so jealous… although the warm weather is heading my way, we’re supposed to hit 70 on Thursday in PA. So crazy for March!!!! Tacos are yummy, I like hard and soft shells… and taco salads!

  26. what a smart idea! I have never cooked with an endive before. I actually didn’t even know what an endive looked like. I’m definitely sharing this with my coworker whose family is divided between gluten free and vegan. This could be both if tweaked a bit.

  27. Emily 03.06.2012

    What a cute meal!

  28. These are definitely AWESOME!

  29. Nice workout! I’ve recently become a runner and I love running out on the streets of SF. But I tried running on the treadmill the other day and it was no fun – way too bouncy for me, especially when I’m used to the streets. Maybe I’ll just have to try again.

    On another note, these are so freaking adorable. I could seriously eat a gazillion of these and not feel guilty at all.

  30. These are so cool! Love the fact that the endive will stay nice and crunchy. Although I’m not gonna lie – I don’t know if could eat tacos without some chip and salsa on the side, which would defeat the low-carb part for me :-)

  31. I’ve used both cabbage and romaine as taco “shells”, but I never would’ve thought to use endives! Great idea!

  32. Thanks!! I’m going to try the workout today! :) Recipe great as always! I love the delicate bitterness of the endives!

  33. Tom H. 03.07.2012

    Soft! With TS coming in a close second.

    Great timing on the post; Missy and I just made tacos for dinner Monday night and I said that we should find a way to create our own seasoning…we will definitely have to try this soon. Thanks for the tip!

    Now, if only this weather would last…

  34. Maurine 03.07.2012

    Genius!!! I just started following your blog! I love it! Thanks for sharing your recipes, exercise tips, and sense of humor! I love the honest and real approach you take and it’s inspiring! This South Dakota girl can relate and is motivated by you!

  35. Elyse 03.07.2012

    Clever idea! These look SO good! I have to go with soft shell tacos. My favorite taco ever is the garlic shredded beef from Fuzzy’s. http://www.fuzzystacoshop.com/menu.html

    They load it with a ton of cilantro, queso fresco, tomatoes, lettuce, and wrap it up in a homemade tortilla. To die for! A must try if you ever find yourself back in the Dallas area!

  36. Nancy 03.07.2012

    I like your homemade taco seasoning idea, less sodium too. Will prob make a taco salad using these recipes too. Delicious! Thanks. And, your tacos look so cute on those square plates. Couldn’t resist eating them that way!

  37. Natasha 03.07.2012

    Mmm…they look delicious! I’ve made taco’s with romaine lettuce, but now I must try endive!

  38. Anne 03.07.2012

    Those taco-boats look really delicious! Yummy, and they seem really easy to make. Definitely have to try it.

    By the way, I have been your blog for quite some time now, and I gotta say, I love it. I really enjoy reading it. Keep it up ;)

  39. Marc Perry 03.07.2012

    Thanks for the link to my HIIT article. Much appreciated. Great article and absolutely love the photos!

  40. Melissa 03.07.2012

    Love your blog, I look forward to it everyday. It is nice that a fellow Iowan can add to the health of everyone! I am in small town Iowa so Trader Joe’s isn’t available but I will have to look for some endive…this recipe looks great! Love the low sodium, thank you for thinking overall health! We enjoyed the weather as well, nothing like running outside!

  41. Erin 03.07.2012

    I’m a soft shell girl all the way when it comes to tacos. It’s funny, yesterday, as I walked by the endives at the grocery store I was thinking to myself I really want to get them (because I do like them) but would they go to waste? Your post was just one day late. What a great idea!

  42. Natalie 03.07.2012

    Definitely going to try these! I’ll switch out the beef for turkey though.

    Softshell tacos! If I had a choice, but actually I like all 3!

  43. Megan 03.07.2012

    This is soo awesome! I am on a low carb diet also and have been CRAVING tacos. I will definatly be trying these this weekend. Thank You!

  44. Hannah 03.07.2012

    LOVE this idea. I may have to pick up some endive tonight!

  45. It was 55 in MN – I can’t believe it was that much warmer in IA! crazy! 55 is still very nice this time of year though.

    I love the treadmill workout. I pinned it to Pinterest and was going to put Courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats blog, but had to change it to Courtesty of the blog Iowa Girl Eats. I don’t know that it is possible to eat a blog!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.07.2012

      Ahhahaha, I am hungry most of the time, though probably not enough to eat an entire blog. ;)

  46. Elizabeths 03.08.2012

    Just came from the store w/my endive! Making these tonight and I can’t wait! I am trying to low-carb thingy too. I love waffles in the morning and miss them so much :( but so far been doing ok. :)

  47. Amanda 03.09.2012

    Great idea! I’m going to try that out! Also, on your masher that you were talking about. Have you ever tried out a Pampered Chef Mix n’ Chop. It’s fabulous & chops up ground beef, sausage, turkey, etc. If you go to my website http://www.pamperedchef.biz/agirth you can view a picture of it & more details. Im telling you, you will love it! :) Keep up the great recipes!!!

  48. Christy 03.09.2012

    I think the best salsa I’ve ever had was Trader Joe’s, it’s super fresh and spicy. So yummy!

  49. […] ever said eating low-carb was an exact science, so when Ben and I got a carby craving this evening we headed over to Noodles […]

  50. […] shells too, I just used the lettuce as my taco vehicle! Kristen over at Iowa Girl Eats had a yummy taco post that inspired this […]

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