Paula Roy: Whole Foods in Half the Time


Kid-Friendly Chicken Tacos with Crunchy Coleslaw

A Gluten-Free Taco Twist

by: Paula Roy

I sometimes think kids will eat just about anything if it doesn’t involve cutlery. Think about it – pizza, sandwiches, sushi, hotdogs, burgers…and my personal favourite, tacos! I have to confess, though, that while I love what goes into tacos, I struggle with the packaging. Hard tortilla shells are impractical as they break so darn easily – when my kids were little, I knew at least one of them would be in tears when their taco fell apart.

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Soft tortillas are better, but I find them too filling and feel they sometimes overwhelm the flavours of the filling. Enter the lettuce leaf. Boston lettuce is my favourite, but any leaf lettuce will do just fine, and it will make the gluten-intolerant people in your life pretty happy too. You can make the shredded chicken filling ahead of time, including in a slow cooker; it freezes beautifully as well. The coleslaw comes together in mere moments, leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy this happy, healthy, tear-free tacolicious meal.


Shredded Chicken

3 tbsp canola oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.25 lbs or 525 g)
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped  (add more if your family likes things spicy)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup canned diced tomatoes and their liquid
1 cup mild flavoured beer (or chicken stock)


Crunchy coleslaw

3 tbsp sour cream
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 cup finely sliced green cabbage
1/2 cup slivered red pepper
1/2 cup grated carrot


To assemble

1 head Boston or leaf lettuce
Coriander leaves, lime wedges


  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium heat, in a medium sized, heavy duty pot.

  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown, a few pieces of time in the hot oil. Remove the chicken when it is browned on both sides and set on a clean plate.

  Reduce heat to medium low and add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the onions to the pan; cook for 2 minutes.

  Add the garlic, chipotle peppers, oregano and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

  Add the tomatoes and beer; stir to combine and turn heat up so that the mixture comes to a boil.

  Return the chicken and any juice that has accumulated on the plate to the pot, making sure the chicken is all snuggled into the tomato mixture. Reduce heat so it is just simmering and put a lid on the pot.

  Cook over low heat for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is tender and falling apart.

  While chicken is cooking, combine the sour cream with the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper to make the dressing for the coleslaw.

  Put the cabbage, red peppers and carrots in a bowl, drizzle dressing over and combine well. Refrigerate until serving time.

  With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board.

  Turn up the heat and remove the lid so the tomato mixture will reduce slightly.

  Shred the chicken using two forks and then return the meat to the pot.

  To serve, place washed and dried lettuce leaves on individual serving plates.

  With a slotted spoon, top with the chicken mixture, then add a heaping spoonful of coleslaw.

  Garnish with a few cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedge.

Serves 4