I live for tacos, guacamole and margaritas. Well, not really but I really do like them. And depending on the kind of day I’m having it wouldn’t necessarily be in that order, if you know what I mean? 😉
The thought of all three of these Mexican foods conjures up images of fun, but as a nutritionist I also see mounds of sour cream, refried beans, cheese, fried taco shells, and oily chips. I can’t help it, these are the typical TASTE ENHANCERS that we find accompanying most meals at Mexican restaurants. This doesn’t have to be the case. We can save mucho calories, and I am talking 100’s of calories, by making a Mexican feast at home with some smart calorie-saving substitutions.
The Ultimate Taco
One of my “Favorite Finds” is William-Sonoma’s Ultimate Taco Starter. I have been using it for years. Like, their Meatloaf Starter Mix which I use for My Meatloaf, this liquid starter comes in a glass jar, is low in calories and fat, adds moisture where seasoning packets don’t, and is filled with wonderful all natural ingredients. I tend to stock up on this stuff. However, I did come across and try McCormick’s Taco Skillet Sauce, which can be bought in your local supermarket, and it was pretty delicious.
If you are overwhelmed by the thought of making a taco meal, don’t be! There are just as many short-cuts to making healthy tacos as there are components to this meal. For instance, I use Dole® pre- shredded lettuce in a bag, cherry tomatoes that are easier to cut into halves or quarters than the whole tomato, and I chop my onions in a mini-food processor. However, if you are lucky enough to have a supermarket like Stop and Shop or online grocer like Peapod that does the work for you by selling diced and chopped tomatoes and onions, go ahead and buy them. It makes the prep so much more effortless and it can work double duty in guacamole.
It Isn’t A Party Without The “Guac”
The next part of my fiesta feast is the guacamole. There are many recipes out there for guacamole but on a weeknight when I just need to get dinner on the table, I go with my short-cut solution using salsa. It works perfectly whether you are in a time crunch or not . No one can tell that you didn’t mix, cut, dice, and slice the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, peppers and limes yourself. Phew, I don’t know about you but just the thought of doing all of that on a busy weeknight tires (stresses) me out. Suddenly, I need a beverage!
Just in time, the margarita. I enjoy the convenience of a bottled margarita but if I (gasp) run out of it I can always rely on my own recipe, “The LoCo Svelte Margarita”. It is awesome and rivals any of the “skinny” varieties, in taste and in being calorie-responsible, that line the shelves today.
Once all of the ingredients to your taco meal are laid out let your creativity flow. Tacos can be enjoyed many ways. I prefer to make my tacos into a salad. I place my taco meat on top of a bed of shredded lettuce, sprinkle tomatoes, onions, corn, and cheese on top and use the fat free sour cream, guacamole, and salsa as my dressing. To finish it all off I crumble baked tortilla chips for some crunch. My kids use the baked tortilla chips as a spoon and scoop up their taco concoction.
So next time you want Mexican food go ahead and eat it. But this time make it and — more responsibly and mindfully. You may not even miss the restaurant version.
- Nonstick Cooking Spray
- Reduced sodium broth or water
- 1 pound of extra lean or lean ground chicken or turkey
- 1 jar of William-Sonoma's Ultimate Taco Starter
- Spray a large saute pan with nonstick cooking spray and set over medium high heat.
- Add the ground meat to the pan abd brown the meat by breaking up any large chunks and adding broth if the meat it is getting too dry and sticking to the pan, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add 1 jar of the Ultimate Taco Starter to the meat and combine.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and bring to a gently simmer.
- Continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite "add-ins"*
1. Diced Tomatoes
2. Diced Onions
3. Shredded Lettuce
4. Corn (canned, frozen or taken from a cooked cob)
7. Reduced Fat, 2% or Fat Free Shredded Cheese
8. Fat Free Sour Cream
9. Baked Tortilla Chips
10. Whole Wheat Soft Tortillas or Corn Soft Tortillas
- 2 avocados
- ⅛ cup salsa, either jarred or fresh-style, any heat (add more if preferred)
- 2 tablespoons lime Juice
- Jarred jalapenos, diced (optional)
- Remove avocados from their shell
- In a bowl, smash the avocados with a fork, making sure to keep some chunks
- Add salsa and lime juice to the mashed avocados and mix well
- If you like your salsa spicy, stir in jalapenos to your taste.
- 1 12 oz. can of lemon lime flavored seltzer or diet sprite
- 6 oz. tequila
- ¼ cup Simply Limeade®
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Place ice in glasses, I prefer crushed ice
- Add seltzer (or diet sprite), tequila and limeade into a pitcher and stir
- Poor the contents of the pitcher in the glasses over ice
- Serve with a garnish of a lime wedge