Kristin, one of our Whole Story readers, sent us her idea for a recipe makeover: The dish my mom makes for every family gathering is taco salad. I've lightened it up a little by using ground turkey (or, sometimes, black beans) instead of beef, low-sodium, all-natural taco seasoning, hormone-free cheese, about three times the tomato she used, plenty of lettuce, organic blue corn chips in place of Doritos, and all-natural roasted red pepper dressing in place of Catalina (WHY does salad dressing have so much sugar???). Although I've been eating hers for most of my life, honestly - I like mine better! Kristin's right: taco salad is definitely a crowd pleaser. But just because it's a "salad" doesn't necessarily make a taco any healthier-certainly not when it consists of a fried tortilla shell piled high with ground beef, sour cream, guacamole and cheese! We love the changes Kristin made in her version to emphasize the "salad" aspect of this recipe. Check out the recipe we developed for Taco Salad using Kristin's changes and adding a few of our own.
- By using ground turkey instead of ground beef, we saved about 100 calories and 7 grams of fat, half of which are saturated fat. Any time you're looking to lighten up a recipe that calls for ground beef, think about subbing ground turkey or chicken.
- A 1-ounce serving of blue corn tortilla chips rather than a fried tortilla shell saves 100 calories and 11 grams of fat. Our salad uses just a handful of chips (about 5) per serving to give a satisfying crunch without going overboard on the calories.
- Tomatoes, corn, red onion, plenty of romaine lettuce and fresh herbs boost nutrition, not to mention flavor and eye appeal. Romaine lettuce is a smart substitution for the typical iceberg lettuce used in taco salads because it has twice the fiber and more calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K and folate.
- We whisked up a quick homemade dressing of olive oil, lime juice, honey and chili powder. Making the dressing yourself lets you control the sodium and sugar. If you use bottled dressing, read the label carefully to make sure you know what you're getting as far as calories, sodium and sugar. Or, instead of an oil-based dressing, try a topping of fresh salsa.
- Beware of extra garnishes on a salad like this. Sour cream may be tasty, but it quickly adds on calories. Instead, try plain non-fat thick Greek yogurt for a creamy substitute.