Tacos have a bad rep. I think they are often considered a junk food. Meat + Cheese + Tortilla. With that type of connotation, we have not had them much at the Badger Girl/Manatee household. I am pleased to report that will now be changing.
A somewhat impromptu meal choice led to a revelation. I had bought ground sirloin to make a cheeseburger pizza (from Clean Eating magazine) but did not have the energy to tackle something that seemed so daunting (aka new recipe requiring me to read something and think). Instead, I decided this was my chance to bring Manatee over to the dark side of tacos.
Tips for healthy tacos
- Use a lean meat. I prefer ground sirloin because it’s the leanest ground red meat you can find. Beware of ground turkey, just because it’s turkey doesn’t mean it’s lean.
- Add veggies where you can. Chop up the veggies and saute them with the meat. I used carrots, celery and onions. It would also be good with chopped bell pepper or even zucchini. When it’s mixed with seasoning and the meat, the taste of veggies will not overpower the dish.
- Find a non-meat filler to make it seem meatier. I had some steamed lentils leftover from lunch so I mixed in those with the meat. It gave the meat mixture more substance but was much healthier than simply adding more meat. I found the lentils in the organic produce section. They are going to be a new staple! You could also use mushrooms or quinoa to get the same effect.
- Replace cheese and sour cream with guacamole and salsa. To make your own guacamole, simply mash up the avocado and mix it with jarred salsa and lime juice. If you must have dairy, try fat-free greek yogurt. It tastes a lot like sour cream and is so much healthier for you.
- Replace a tortilla shell with a lettuce leaf. It’s so much lighter and more refreshing in the summer months. I used escarole. You could also use a basic green lettuce or my favorite, butter lettuce.
Healthy Taco Meat Ingredients
Celery (organic), 3/4 bunch, diced
Carrots from the CSA, 4, peeled and diced
Steamed lentils, 1 cup
Taco seasoning, to taste
Ground sirloin, 1 lb
Smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp (not pictured)
Brown sugar, a pinch (not pictured)
Water, 2 cups (not pictured)
- Heat the pan to Medium High and spray with olive oil. Add celery, carrots and onion. Cook until soft.
Note: I just have to take a minute to (again) publicly declare my love for my electric frying pan. With all of the veggies I incorporated into this dish, I could have never fit everything into a regular frying pan. Sigh. Isn’t it just gorgeous?
- Add meat and cook until it’s just a little pink.
- Add lentils and seasoning. I usually start with about 2 Tbsp and then add two cups of water. Add the smoked paprika and brown sugar, then keep tasting it and adding spice until it tastes right to you.
- Simmer for approximately 5 minutes. You want the meat mixture to thicken as the water evaporates.
- Spoon meat mixture down middle of lettuce leaf. Top with guacamole and tomatoes (or whatever toppings you desire). Enjoy!
Check back tomorrow to see my interview on Food Lovers Website.