Mexican fare is often a splurge, loaded with salt and unhealthy fat but it does not have to be. Tasty tacos are within your reach with just a few easy adjustments that will please both your palate and your waistline!
Flavor without the Salt – Making your own taco seasoning with a few simple spices like Cumin, Paprika and Garlic is super easy and will significantly reduce the sodium content of your favorite Mexican recipes. Don't forget to add extra flavor with fresh herbs and peppers.
Vary your Proteins – There is no reason to limit your taco to red meat. Reduce the fat and the calories by changing to lean ground turkey instead. But why stop there? Grilled or blackened shrimp and fish are another low-fat protein option. If you prefer a plant-based diet, lentils, black beans and refried beans are packed with protein and fiber!
Load Up on Vegetables – Fresh veggies provide antioxidant power and really enhance the flavor of your taco. Plus, at only 25 calories per serving, vegetables fill you up without expanding your waistline. Traditional tomatoes, onion, pepper and lettuce are great. Change up the flavor with spicy cauliflower, roasted root vegetables, corn and cabbage.
Re-think the shell - Save yourself 100-200 calories per taco by trading in your tortilla for a Lettuce Wrap. Another option is to go for the taco bowl -brown rice, spinach or lettuce as a base will be lower in fat, calories and higher in fiber.
Use Caution with Condiments – Best choices to top your taco include: pico de gallo, salsa, fresh herbs like cilantro, Jalapeno peppers, Avocado (healthy fat) and guacamole. Try to limit the amount of sour cream and cheese you add to minimize the fat content.
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, * see recipe below
- 1 cup (half-pint) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
- 1 cup salsa or pico de gallo
- 12 whole romaine heat lettuce leaves
Cook ground turkey in skillet over medium heat until browned. Add 1/3 cup water and taco seasoning. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Double each lettuce leaf so the top fits into the second and you have 6 doubled leaves altogether. Spoon in meat mixture. Add cherry tomatoes and avocado pieces. Top each with salsa or pico de gallo. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe modified from skinnyms.com
Lentil Tacos Recipe
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely minced onion
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 2 T taco seasoning* see recipe below
- ½ cup salsa or pico de gallo
- In a saucepan, cover lentils with water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are tender. Remove lentils from pot, drain and rinse. Set aside. (You can also use canned lentils. Just drain, rinse instead.)
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add in lentils, vegetable broth, taco seasoning and salsa.
- Mix well, slightly mashing with a potato masher, wooden spoon or fork.
Enjoy the lentil mixture anywhere you would taco meat, in burritos, taco shells, or on top of salad.
Recipe modified from www.eatright.org
Blackened Cajun Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Salsa
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 Tablespoon cajun seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 (11 ounce) can yellow corn, drained
- 1 (15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ red onion, diced
- 2 avocados, diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- juice of one lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- crumbled feta for topping, optional
- 4-6 flour tortillas for serving
- In a medium sized bowl add the shrimp and cajun seasoning. Toss until coated. In a medium sized skillet over medium high heat add olive oil and shrimp. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until no longer pink.
- To make the avocado salsa: Add the tomatoes, corn, black beans, red onion, avocado, and cilantro to a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble the tacos dividing the avocado salsa and topping with shrimp. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and serve immediately.
Recipe modified from by The Recipe Critic
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
- 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
- 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Red Pepper
- 1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano or Cilantro
- 1/2 tsp. Paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt (optional)
- 1 tsp. Black Pepper
Mix all spices together and use like you would a traditional taco seasoning packet. This recipe makes enough to season 1 lb of meat.
For an individualized nutrition plan, please visit a registered dietitian nutritionist.