Kicked the Habit

My name is The Ranting Chef. I’m an addict. As of this post, I have not had a drink in the last 7 months and 9 days.

Of diet soda.

I recently gave up diet soda. All of it. The caffeinated kind and the non-caffeinated stuff too. Doesn’t sound like a feat to you? Well, it was for me. Still is. Every day.

I drank a significant amount of soft drinks. I would start my day stopping by the local mini-mart and fill up my re-usable 64 oz cup with Diet Pepsi (DP). Around noon I’d crack a 20 oz bottle of DP and have it with my lunch. Mid afternoon another 20 oz, this time the decaf kind. Early evening, typically a 12 oz can of non-cola diet. 116 ounces. Some days even more. For those that are math challenged, this was the equivalent of almost 10 cans.

For years I went on like this. As it was diet, I figured that I was drinking just a little caramel colored water and since it had no calories, there wasn’t any harm.

I cannot say for sure that there is harm or not, but bit by bit the literature started to show there could be something. Artificial sweeteners may actually keep your body hungry for sugar. Other chemical may leach calcium out of your bones. Whatever the evidence, it was time for me to make a change.

I’ll not kid you, it’s been a little tough. Right now I have been substituting in water and iced tea (unsweetened) in place of the soft drinks but finding unsweetened decaf tea is an effort in its own right. While I’m not sure it helps to know, there are others that are weaning themselves off the stuff too.

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After having these tacos, I think I now have a new addiction!

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Lots of spices and lots of meat.

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Heating up the chilies.

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The onions and tomatoes getting cooked.

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Ready for the blender.

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The meat is cooking away.

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The cilantro is ready to go.

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Long cooking in the pot.

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A fantastic dish.

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

prep 5 M ∙ cook 2 H 40 M ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source


  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-to-2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Corn tortillas, warmed, and assorted toppings, for serving


Heat a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chiles and cook, pressing them down with a spatula, 10 seconds per side; transfer to a plate. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are charred in spots, about 10 minutes.

Peel the garlic and transfer to a blender along with the tomatoes and onion (reserve the skillet). Tear the chiles into pieces and add to the blender along with 1/2 cup water and 1 teaspoon salt; pulse until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the skillet, pressing it through with the back of a spoon.

Add the beef to the skillet and turn to coat in the chile sauce using tongs. Cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until a crust starts to form on the meat, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and cook 1 more minute. Meanwhile, puree 2 1/2 cups water, the cilantro and thyme in the blender; add to the skillet along with the bay leaves.

Reduce the heat to low. Cover and gently simmer until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours, adding up to 1 1/2 cups water if the sauce gets too thick. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and black pepper. Serve in tortillas with assorted toppings.

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Categories: Beef 2, kosher, Low Carb, Main Dish 3, Mexican, Recipes

Author:The Ranting Chef

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10 Comments on “Kicked the Habit”

  1. September 12, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    First off, congratulations on kicking the can!! Keep going. ” One Day at a Time” 😉 also, these tacos look superb!


  2. September 12, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Terrific recipe will definitely give it a try – not sure will look as appetising – as to the fizzy stuff – tough ask to give them up but well done – I have a deal with myself that if I get to 100 having given all the ‘stuff’ up I will take them up again! Just hope the price of cigarettes has not outdone my pension…..


  3. September 12, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Congratulations on weaning off of the soda. You can be addicted to worse stuff, and I admit I thought you were going to say you were an alcoholic. Glad you are not. Soda can be just as bad for your health. I had a friend whose husband drank DR Pepper, or maybe it was Pepsi, all the time. As much as he could get. He became a diabetic and still ignored it. He wound up losing a leg and being in a wheelchair. Your tacos look good. I can see why you could be addicted to those!


  4. September 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Congratulations!!!! Have you ever tried sparkling water with a few drops of flavoured liquid stevia, like Sweet Leaf?
    They even have soda flavours. Personally, I love Perrier water with fresh lemon or lime and a few drops of stevia. Kicks up boring water and tastes like soda without all the junk 🙂
    Recipe looks delish too by the way!


  5. September 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses and commented:
    Congrats on kicking the soda pop addiction. My weakness is ice cream or sugary snakes when I am upset. I am forced to eat better because my doctors showed me where I was headed if I didn’t put on the brakes. Eating more meat and vegetables these days, but occasionally crave empty carbs. Glad you shared this. Recipe looks great, too !


  6. September 13, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    I have quit cigarettes cold turkey. I am not fussed if I don’t get my habitual glass of wine with dinner. Quitting diet coke is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. When I think of all the money I poured into that habit over the course of 20 years- oh I could weep. One day at a time. I found seltzer helped, a little.


  7. sitanaik
    September 13, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Stuff like Diet Pepsi and iced tea have arrived in our parts only recently – most of my generation have completely missed it – it just was not there. Aren’t we lucky!! Since the negative effects are getting publicity – I am hoping that the craze just does not take off at all


  8. September 13, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    I had the same problem, but my drug of choice was DMD. Do all addicts abbreviate their beverages? Diet Mountain Dew. If I felt a little tired, a little draggy, I’d pop one open. Before I knew it, I wasn’t buying one now and then – I’d moved on to the 12 packs, then the 24. I did the same thing – went to tea. I’ve never grown up enough to drink coffee!


  9. September 13, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Hi, my name is Kate and I’m a Coke addict.

    When I left home for uni, away from the sage watch of Daddy and Mummy, I became a sheeple and substituted Coke for water. 8 years later, at the age of 27, I decided to give up Coke for Lent (the first of my Lenten abstinences other than meant) because I did not like the way I fantasised about Coke before I could, um, hit the bottle.

    At the end of (that) Lent, I had developed an aversion to the taste of Coke. Mainly because of articles I read and conversations I had about the adverse effects. I never ever went back.

    Today, at the most, I’ll take a swig from someone’s glass if I’m parched or I want to wash down something I’ve eaten. I still don’t fancy the ‘rusty, metal’ taste (or the ‘fake’ taste of other sodas). Again, largely because I know what it does to my body.

    To twist Kate Moss’ words: Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

    >I’ll not kid you, it’s been a little tough.
    – D#mn straight. I went into withdrawal with cranky episodes and retching when I drank water. I didn’t use a substitute; switched to good ol’ H-two-O and have stayed with it since.

    >Kicked the Habit
    – *fist bump* Leave the g*dd#mn thing where it belongs – at the curb.



  10. September 13, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    The tacos look wonderful and congrats on kicking the diet pop habit. I don’t drink much pop – mostly tea with sweet ‘n low unless it is green tea. I also like vitamin water – it provides a nice addition of vitamins especially after a workout or after a long walk.


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