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Taco Salad Recipe and How Healthy are They?

If salad is in the name, it has to be healthy right?? WRONG! Many times the salads listed on menus in a restaurant have more calories than a good amount of other menu items. How, you may ask? A lot of salads in restaurants are loaded with salad dressing. Further, the addition of high calorie ingredients is common amongst restaurant salads – breaded chicken, tortilla chips, bacon, FRENCH FRIES – yup you heard that right, there are salads with french fries on them. Although, I have to admit, I bet french fries on a salad would be delicious.

Let’s take a look at Applebee’s restaurant. Data is retrieved from: http://www.nutrition-charts.com/applebees-nutrition-facts-calorie-information/

They offer a variety of salad options. How about we try the Fiesta chicken salad. It has black bean corn salsa, tortilla strips, roasted red peppers and onions…doesn’t sound bad, right?  Well the Calories in this salad are 860. How it added up to that high amount is almost baffling. It has 42 grams of fat, 80 grams of carbohydrates.  The dressing itself adds about 160 Calories.

Alright let’s try another salad, a caesar salad! I mean, lettuce, grilled chicken and cheese. That can’t be that high either, right? This one isn’t far behind the fiesta chicken salad. It provides 800 Calories. In this situation the dressing provides a SUBSTANTIAL amount of Calories, pouring in a touch over 400 Calories. Without dressing this salad provides 370 Calories.

Lastly, we’ll examine a very high Calorie salad – the oriental chicken salad. This salad provides 1390 Calories. WOW! Without the dressing, this salad provides 730 Calories, a significant improvement. If grilled chicken is selected, and the dressing is left out, the Calories come down to 600.

My point is, be mindful of what you eat when you go out to eat. Sure, it’s tough to know the nutrition facts by looking at a menu. But you can easily pull up the nutrition facts on your phone if they are not listed on the menu at most restaurants. If you do choose a salad, make sure to ask for the dressing on the side. That way you can decide how much dressing you use. Try dipping your fork into the salad dressing, rather than pouring the dressing over the salad.

So what am I providing you with today? A recipe for a DELICIOUS taco salad that really is healthy and doesn’t provide 1000+ Calories.

Taco Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 heads of iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 medium sized white onion, sliced
  • 1 container plain greek yogurt
  • 1 container ready made guacamole

Instructions:

  1. In medium sized skillet, add ground beef and enough water so that the bottom of the pan is covered with water. Break apart the meet with a heat resistant, non-stick spatula. Brown the meat over medium heat with the lid on the pan.
  2. Once the meat is browned, drain the water and add the spices – cumin, chili powder, oregano and black pepper.
  3. Pour rinsed beans in a bowl and microwave for 60 seconds, just to warm the beans.
  4. Begin assembling the salad.  Chop or tear the heads of iceberg lettuce, using roughly half a head per salad. Place lettuce on a plate. This recipe should make 4 salads.
  5. Next dice tomato and onion and add 1/4 of each to salad.  Sprinkle on 1/8 cup of cheese onto top of salad. Add 1/2 cup of black beans. Add 1/4 lb of cooked ground beef. Top with 1 large spoonful of the plain greek yogurt (sour cream substitute), and 1 large spoonful of the ready made guacamole.
  6. This salad doesn’t need dressing, as the guacamole and yogurt add enough creaminess to the salad. However, if you still wish to add some, both ranch dressing and barbecue sauce add great flavor to the salad!

When all is said and done, here is the Calorie breakdown of this salad:

  • 1/4 lb beef: 170
  • 1/2 cup black beans: 100
  • 1/8 cup cheese: 55
  • 1 Tbsp plain greek yogurt: 13
  • 1 Tbsp guacamle: 23
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce: 45
  • TOTAL: 406 Calories

This salad is delicious AND very filling. The bulk of the lettuce helps to fill you up. This salad makes a great lunch or dinner.

 

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