Are Tacos Healthy? Yes, and These 4 Recipes Prove It
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How to make good-for-you tacos
So, are tacos healthy? Well, they certainly can be. Tacos are a relatively healthy food to start.
But some folks overload their tortillas with rich fixings, like cheese and sour cream. Others may chow down on one too many tacos in a drunken stupor. But there are plenty of ways to keep them healthful and enjoyable.
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Image: Getty Images/Thehealthy.com
Choose the tortillas right for you
There are no precise rules here. Traditionally, tacos feature corn tortillas, not the fried kind. But pick tortillas based on what pairs best with your chosen fillings, eating style, or taste preferences. While there are nutritional benefits to conventional flour and corn tortillas, corn is generally the healthier pick. “Usually, corn tortillas have a lower carbohydrate count than flour tortillas,” says Perdomo. If choosing flour tortillas, “go with more fibre and look for whole-wheat or multi-grain flour tortillas,” she adds.
In addition to yellow or white corn, look for blue corn tortillas (or taco shells) for bonus antioxidants from anthocyanin. While soft tortillas are considered healthier, it’s fine to use crispy fried taco shells occasionally, too. If you’re on the lookout for grain-free or other tortilla alternatives, you’ll find them made with chickpeas, cassava, cactus, cauliflower, coconut, almonds, sweet potato, and more. Egg white tortillas are a thing, too.
Or skip the tortilla altogether and use large leafy greens, like collard greens, in its place if you need to be carb conscious—or you’re just a fan of greens.
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Select a nutritious taco filling
Taco filling is typically protein-rich. But it doesn’t need to be beefy. Healthful protein picks include beans, tempeh, tofu, seitan, salmon, shrimp, eggs, and chopped nuts. All of which are delicious when well-seasoned and prepared with healthful oils.
If you’re more of a carnivore, think lean-ish, such as grilled, roasted, or broiled skinless chicken (breast or thigh), fish, shellfish, or pork. Pan-blackened salmon and charred octopus are taste winners.
Plant-based taco fillings can be hearty, scrumptious, and satisfying, too. Hello, beans! If you embrace convenience, consider Adda Veggie Chipotle Adobo Protein Mix. Vegetarian taco fillings don’t need to be protein-packed. Try carnitas-style shredded jackfruit; grilled or sautéed mushrooms, poblano peppers, or corn; and roasted butternut squash, cauliflower florets, or Brussels sprouts.
For a complete meal, pair carb-rich tacos with protein-friendly sides, like bean salad or vegetarian refried beans. Note that some nutritious fillings may have added sugars to balance spiciness, such as in sofritas, which is spicy adobo braised shredded tofu, or carnitas, which is slow-cooked pulled pork.
(Related: 6 Types of Beans to Meet Your Protein Needs)
May 11, 2022