Sunday, August 3, 2008

Healthy Taco Salad

This is a dish that I tweak and finagle every time I make it. I absolutely love mexican food and when you get rid of the fatty, greasy things like tortilla chips and refried beans, the ingredients used to make mexican foods are actually quite healthful. It's prevalent in tomatoes and onions, two things that are great for you. Onions have been shown to have cancer fighting properties and may possibly help reduce the risk of heart disease. Tomatoes have lycopene, which is also a cancer fighting anti-oxidant.

Of course, there is the cheese, which is laden with fat. But in moderation, cheese has a place in a healthy diet. Cheese is rich in protein as well as calcium.

The traditional fried shells for taco salads are full of grease; hence, they are full of horrible fat. But who says that taco salad must be served in a deep fried tortilla shell, or even over tortilla chips? After all, the term "salad" is in the name of this dish, and what is a normal base of salad?

Why, lettuce of course!!

Awhile back, I took a liking to green leaf lettuce. When spun in a salad spinner, this lettuce perks right up even if it came out of the fridge looking a tad wilted. From what I gather, it is also a bit better for us than iceburg. Never researched why that is; nonetheless, every diet and health show/book I've listened to has suggested other lettuces than iceburg.

After looking at taco seasoning packets, I realized that many of them had a lot of sodium.

So, I opted for making my own taco seasoning for the beef in my salad..


Taco Seasoning Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside until needed.


Beef Taco Mixture Ingredients

  • 1 lb of 96% lean ground sirloin
  • 1/2 onion, minced (use a food processor)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, no salt added
  • homemade taco seasoning
  • fresh tomatoes
  • fat free or low fat sour cream
  • low fat shredded cheddar
  • green leaf lettuce

  1. Cook the beef and onion until beef is done
  2. Add kidney beans and homemade taco seasoning, mixing well. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally

Spread the lettuce liberally on the bottom of a plate. Spoon taco mixture onto the lettuce. Top with fresh, diced tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream.

Yum! I was full before even finishing!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Chicken and Spinach Sauté Over Pasta

So, tonight I made the chicken and spinach Sauté over Pasta. Since we were having pasta, I went ahead and heated up some Ragu marinara for the kids to heap onto their pasta rather than eat the chicken and spinach, which was NOT going to happen. And hey - I don't kid myself. I fight the battle if it's worth fighting and I know I can somewhat have a win. But an all and out fight with kids trying to force feed them when a simple heating of one easy thing brings in peace? Nah. There's more important things to have a battle of wills over. For the most part, I don't cook them a whole extra dinner. I just make sure that there is something that we are having that they will more than likely eat. Even if that means adding another side dish, or topping.

D and I however -- we eat this chicken and spinach mixture quite often. It's pretty good, low fat and very low sodium. As a matter of fact, how much sodium you have depends pretty much on your choice of chicken broth -- even tho I have found with this recipe, the chicken broth is not really needed. The natural chicken juices give it as much flavor.

So - dinner tonight was:

Fresh Garden Salad (watch the commercial dressing - it's kinda high in sodium)
Chicken and Spinach Sauté Over Pasta
(Spaghetti Sauce for kids to spoon over Pasta)
Fresh Cantaloupe
Chicken and Spinach Sauté Over Pasta Ingredients

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup low sodium or no sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of Parmesan
  • whole wheat thin spaghetti

  1. Cut chicken into cubes and mince garlic.
  2. Heat oil in skillet and sauté chicken and mushrooms until chicken is cooked
  3. Add garlic and spinach; cook until spinach is wilted
  4. Add broth. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve over 1 1/2 ounces of whole wheat thin spaghetti

That's it! Let me know what you think if you try this. Like I said, we cook it quite often as it is low fat and low sodium and fairly tasty.