Tacos made healthy? Sure, that’s easy

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

By: Jeff Ash

Friday, Oct. 4, is National Taco Day. Tacos can be a healthy meal. Really.


Go with lean meats and chopped vegetables. Go with soft corn tortillas, too. They’re low in fat and made with whole grains. Skip the shredded cheese and sour cream. Enjoy in moderation.


Here are three recipes for tasty, healthy tacos that don’t take long to prepare – one fish, one chicken and one a lean, savory blend of ground beef and ground turkey.


Pro tip: When recipes call for chopping and slicing, do that first. It’ll make everything go smoother.

Chipotle fish tacos

Chipotle Fish Tacos

Prep time: 15 minutes. Ready in 20 minutes.



1 pound fresh or frozen tilapia fillets

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons salt-free chipotle seasoning blend

2 cups packaged coleslaw mix

2 tablespoons bottled light spicy ranch salad dressing

8 (6-inch) high-fiber corn or whole wheat tortillas

½ avocado, thinly sliced

¼ cup cilantro leaves

1 lime, quartered



Thaw fish, if frozen. Heat oven to 450 F. Place the fillets in a 3-quart baking dish and brush both sides of the fish with the oil. Season fish with the chipotle seasoning blend. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes per ½-inch thickness of fish or until fish flakes when tested with a fork.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the coleslaw mix and dressing; set aside.


Flake the fish into large chunks and divide between the tortillas. Top each with ¼ cup of the coleslaw mixture, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime.


Nutrition information

Serving size: 2 tacos


Per serving: 340 calories; 12 g fat (4 g sat); 21 g fiber; 31 g carbohydrates; 29 g protein; 43 mcg folate; 57 mg cholesterol; 0 g sugars; 346 IU vitamin A; 14 mg vitamin C; 109 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 526 mg sodium; 451 mg potassium


Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (23% daily value)


Carbohydrate servings: 2


Exchanges: 3½ lean protein, 1½ starch, 1 fat, ½ vegetable


Source: Diabetic Living magazine via Eating Well

Spicy chicken tacos

Spicy Chicken Tacos

Prep time: 20 minutes. Ready in 35 minutes.



8 corn tortillas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into thin strips

¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1 large onion, sliced

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

½ cup prepared hot salsa, plus more for garnish

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Sliced scallions, chopped fresh tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream, for garnish



Heat oven to 300 F. Wrap tortillas in foil and bake until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.


Meanwhile, season chicken with salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Add chicken and cook, stirring until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.


Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring, until they start to brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno and cumin. Cook, stirring, until peppers are bright green but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes more.


Stir in salsa and reserved chicken. Cook, stirring, until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Spoon into warmed tortillas and garnish with scallions, tomatoes and sour cream.


Nutrition information

Per serving: 304 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat); 5 g fiber; 30 g carbohydrates; 30 g protein; 25 mcg folate; 83 mg cholesterol; 4 g sugars; 1 g added sugars; 655 IU vitamin A; 42 mg vitamin C; 77 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 396 mg sodium; 617 mg potassium


Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (70% daily value)


Carbohydrate servings: 2


Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3½ lean meat


Source: Eating Well magazine

Lean and spicy taco meat

Lean and Spicy Taco Meat

With this lean and savory filling, you won’t need taco seasoning.


Prep time: 30 minutes. Ready in 30 minutes.



8 ounces 93%-lean ground beef

8 ounces 99%-lean ground turkey breast

½ cup chopped onion

1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, or 1¼ cups petite-diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground chipotle chile, or 1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano



Place beef, turkey and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain off fat. Wipe out the pan. Return the meat to the pan and add tomatoes, cumin, ground chipotle (or chili powder) and oregano. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 6 minutes.


Working ahead? Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Reheat just before serving.


Nutrition information

Serving size: About ½ cup


Per serving: 108 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat); 1 g fiber; 3 g carbohydrates; 15 g protein; 3 mcg folate; 42 mg cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 70 IU vitamin A; 1 mg vitamin C; 7 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 252 mg sodium; 26 mg potassium


Carbohydrate servings: 0


Exchanges: 3½ lean meat


Source: Eating Well magazine

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