How to Build a Better Taco: Healthy Eating Tips

Love tacos? Who doesn’t? They can be a delicious comfort food, as well as an easy and quick bite to eat when you’re on the run. The problem is, most tacos can be very unhealthy—particularly the fast food and cafeteria variety. If you’re looking to lose weight, you don’t have to do without tacos—you just have to learn how to build a better, healthier model.

Opt For the Salad Instead

A better taco starts with a deconstructed taco—instead of having a taco tightly wrapped up in a high carbohydrate tortilla, have your taco in a bowl. If you really want to add a little bit of crunch, have it with a handful of crunchy tortilla salad toppings.

The Veggies

The best thing about the taco is the veggies—and you can enjoy that part of the meal guilt-free. Start your taco by loading your bowl with a salad: chopped mixed lettuce, sliced tomatoes, diced bell peppers (throw in a seeded, diced jalapeno if you love the heat), shredded carrots, and chopped onions. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley. Chop up and throw on some avocado chunks for a heart-healthy fat.

Filling

The filling of a taco has the potential for being very high in fat, particularly in places that use low quality ground beef and refried beans as filling. The filling can end up loaded with grease, salt, and preservatives, and that’s where you can get into a lot of trouble.

If you’re going to have a beef taco, make it with a lean ground sirloin. If you’re going to have beans, use whole beans that have been soaked and boiled until soft. Another option is veggie crumbles—a soy product made to mimic chop meat, but with far less fat and calories. You can even replace your beef with diced grilled chicken or fish.

The trick is not to use those pre-packaged taco seasoning mixes—you don’t need it. Just sauté your meats or meat substitutes in a frying pan (use a light splash of olive oil if necessary) and sprinkle them with Spanish seasonings like chili powder, paprika, oregano, cilantro, or diced chipotles. Add your salsa directly into the meat or meat substitute and stir to make the perfect taco filling. Try a fruity salsa for an added flavor twist, such as mango or lime. Ladle your filling over salad in place of dressing.

Toppings

While your taco salad will be so flavorful that you won’t need it, you can jazz it up even more by throwing in an ounce of shredded low-fat cheese and giving it a dollop of fat-free sour cream or yogurt to offset the heat. Now that is a healthy taco meal you can get used to!

Photo: Pixabay

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