Make Taco Tuesday Healthy

At Doctor for Life, we know it’s important for you to be able to enjoy some old time favorites.  With these tips, you can create a nutritious and delicious Taco Tuesday right at home while maintaining your healthy weight lifestyle program.

Taco Tuesday can be part of a healthy diet plan, if done right. Your upcoming Mexican-inspired Tuesday does not have to consist of a 320 calorie taco found at most famous fast food and Mexican restaurants.

In fact, your next Taco Tuesday can be a whole lot tastier while becoming even healthier. By doing the cooking yourself rather than going out, you can maintain your healthy weight lifestyle. Try these tips for a nutritious and delicious Taco Tuesday right at home:

Skip the chips:  Tortilla chips are high in calories per gram and are filled with saturated fats and high levels of sodium. So if you’re Taco Tuesday must include a chips and salsa course, try substituting those calorie-dense tortilla chips with veggies. One option is to use raw vegetables like celery and peppers as your scoop.

Make Your Own Salsa: Prepared salsa from the grocery store can be laden with extra salt and harmful additives. Making your own salsa is both quick and easy, and allows you to skip the unwanted extras.  For fish tacos, try a tropical flair by combining fresh pineapple, mango, papaya and more. For chicken tacos, try combining black beans, red peppers and corn for a perfect topping. Or, if you are looking for a more traditional Mexican salsa for dipping, try a quick Pico De Gallo using Roma tomatoes, cilantro, red onions and limes. Making your own salsa rather than picking up a jar from the store allows for variety and personal preference, all while providing a flavor-packed serving of fruits and vegetables.

Use Whole-Grain or Corn Tortillas or Lettuce Leaves:  Refined carbohydrates, like flour tortillas, are definitely a caution food. So when it comes to Taco Tuesday, look for whole-grain tortillas to make your meal smarter and healthier. However, be aware of the serving size. Non-fried corn tortillas are an appropriate alternative, too. Or you can skip the tortillas all together by using romaine lettuce leaves. Tacos are easily, and deliciously, turned into salads. Add in a half cup of black beans to still get your serving of recommended carbohydrates.

Choose Chicken or Fish:  Skipping the greasy ground beef does not mean skipping the flavor or satisfaction. There are a multitude of other options like chicken and ground turkey to fish and shrimp. These lean sources of protein, cooked with a mixture of herbs and topped with different varieties, can give you the taco you crave without the red meat.

Another option for a low cholesterol diet is to go with a vegetarian taco. Pinto or black beans can provide the necessary protein, sautéed vegetables like peppers, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes can offer the desired flavor, and fresh, leafy, tasty herbs like cilantro can put your tacos over the top.

No Store-Bought Seasoning:  Herbs are the way to go when seasoning your chosen protein. The average sodium content per serving in a range of regular taco seasoning packs from most brands is 350 to 575 mg. Long story short, stay away from your typical grocery store taco mix and experiment with different combinations at home instead.  A huge problem with many of the store bought packets, they use potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride as a salt replacement.  Potassium consumed in excess may be harmful for some people.  If you have kidney problems or are on medication for your heart, kidneys or liver, it is best to check with your physician before using salt substitutes in place of sodium.

Chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, coriander, ground red pepper, cumin combine to make a great homemade taco seasoning.  Experiment with your mix to find the flavors you prefer.  Lemon or lime can always be your go-to option for spices.  With the right herbs and spices, you can create a taco seasoning that is just as flavorful and far better for your health.

Be Wise About Your Toppings and Sides:  Living by a healthy lifestyle does not mean missing out on the delicious sides and toppings of a Taco Tuesday. You just have to do it right. Instead of sodium-rich boxed Mexican rice, choose plain brown rice and spice it up with some chopped jalapenos, smoked paprika and fresh cilantro.  Guacamole, although a healthy fat option, it is calorie-dense.  You can try the same recipe you usually use – lemon juice, garlic, onion and tomatoes – with blended broccoli stems or edamame beans for a similar, but healthier, concoction. Add cottage cheese as an alternative to shredded cheese.  And feel free to load up on fillings using low-calorie vegetables, the ultimate toppings for tacos.

Remember these tips and reminders this Tuesday. Create a healthy grocery list, experiment with different combinations, cook up a nutritious and festive meal and indulge –   As always, our physicians, coaches and dietitians are here to help you along the way as well at Doctor for Life.  864-640-0009

rfosterMake Taco Tuesday Healthy