So apparently #tacotuesday is a thing? Well, I can tell you that hashtag or not, I have been eating a lot of Taco Salads lately. Why? Well, I have been trying to lose weight, and you know what? The original, low-carb, lean paleo diet does work. It’s a little fact that isn’t that popular, but it is true.
I’m not saying that low-carb paleo is for everyone. But for me? It’s a good thing right now. I tend to have issues with blood sugar and insulin resistance, and while my digestive system might tolerate things like white rice and potatoes, my waistline doesn’t always agree. Also? I don’t train hard core. I tried CrossFit, and it just wasn’t for me. Heavy training and working out just isn’t my thing. You know what? That’s ok.
Lately what I am into is lots and lots of brisk walking. I spend a significant amount of time each day walking, and in conjunction with a low-carb, lean paleo approach, I am consistently losing weight, and I am also feeling really great. It’s not advisable to eat low-carb for long extended periods of time, but it is an effective part of a weight loss regimen. So for a short period of time to get my weight and blood sugar issues under control, I’m using the tried and true original paleo approach. It’s just not necessary to gorge on tons of fat and carbs all the time, even if they are healthy paleo fats. I’ll talk more on that issue later.
So with this low-carb, lean paleo approach, Taco Salads have become one of my go-to meals. If I make a large batch of the taco protein ahead of time, I can throw the salad together in just a few minutes for lunch, and when packed in a jar it makes a great lunch to take to work or on a road trip. I make them with either lean grass fed ground beef or chicken breast, seasoned with my own Simple Taco Seasoning.
For The Simple Taco Seasoning, Combine The following:
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of pink sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
a large pinch of cayenne pepper
I use all organic spices, so that they have not been treated with any chemicals.
You might be wondering why I bother making my own, when I can buy it already mixed at the store. Well, when I was at Whole Foods the other day, I picked up the Organic Taco Seasoning packet, flipped it over and read the label. Although all the ingredients were organic, it contained organic Maltodextrin and organic Rice flour. Now, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with rice flour, per say, but I am not eating rice right now. The maltodextrin on the other hand? No thanks! Maltodextrin is in LOTS of processed foods. It’s basically a starch derived from either corn, rice, wheat or potatoes, and most often made from corn syrup solids.
Now, most maltodextrin is not organic and made from GMO corn, which I’m pretty against. But even though this Maltodextrin in question organic (and therefore non-GMO), it still has a glycemic index of 130 – that’s twice as high as table sugar! Both the rice flour and the maltodextrin were likely added to the mix so that when you make taco meat, it thickens nicely as it simmers on the stove, creating the taco-y sauce. Yep, I just don’t need that. I just want flavorful meat!
And my Simple Taco Seasoning tastes just like the store bought kind. The major flavor profile in the familiar taste you associate with taco seasoning is cumin, and all the others play supporting roles that add to it. I particularlly love coriander. Its the ground seeds of the cilantro plant, and has a fruity, sweet scent.
Anyway, taco salad is just so versatile, and the best part is that you can use a great salsa for the dressing. My favorite is an organic salsa, that is pretty inexpensive from Drew’s. Their ingredients read more like a recipe, with no preservatives, and all organic, real food ingredients, that are made in small batches.
The recipe below is for one person, so if you are making it for more than just yourself, just multiply everything by the number of people you have.
Simple Taco Salad… In A Jar!
4-6 oz of lean grass-fed ground beef
2 teaspoons of my Simple Taco Seasoning
¼ cup of filtered water
1 heart of organic romaine lettuce, chopped
1 handful of organic spinach, chopped
any or all of these toppings: cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, black olives, diced avocado, pineapple, pickled or fresh jalapenos, cheese (if you do dairy), or dairy-free zucchini cheese*.
In a saute pan, brown the ground beef and add the Taco seasoning and water. Simmer for ten minutes until the beef is cooked through and the sauce has reduced a bit. Set aside to assemble the salad.
If you would like to make this salad using chicken breast, simply season the breasts with the taco seasoning and sear in a small amount of coconut oil in a saute pan. Once the breasts are seared on both sides, finish cooking by baking them in the oven for 30 minutes. Shred them and either serve on top of the salad right away, or store in the fridge for later.
If using a jar, I like to layer in the ingredients so you can see them individually. Pack the salsa on the side, and when you are ready to eat, add the salsa to the jar, put the lid back on, shake to combine everything and enjoy!
*I’ve been using Zucchini Cheese lately in my Taco Salads, which is a dairy-free recipe using steamed zucchini, grass-fed gelatin, and nutritional yeast, plus other seasonings. Might sound weird, but I had seen it so often on Instagram that I just had to try it. Plus it is a great way to get some gelatin into your salad for extra nutrients! You can see the recipe I based my Nacho Cheese version on Instagram here. For a Nacho Cheese flavor, I added chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika.