Deconstructed Taco Salad Bowl with an Avocado Lime Dressing (Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Paleo Friendly)

 

Let’s get straight to the point; tacos are delicious. The problem with tacos is not only can they can be calorically dense but they also tend to be lacking in the vegetable department.  One way to combat this: turn your tacos into a deconstructed taco salad bowl.

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Taco salad bowl with a dairy free and egg free avocado lime dressing.

Even with the bowls, however, you have to watch those toppings. Sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado and the deep fried shell all add up fast.

Here are a few ways you can lighten up your taco bowl:

  • Replace deep fried high fat shell with homemade chips (if paleo, replace with plantain chips.)
  • Replace multiple high fat toppings with an avocado-lime dressing.
  • Replace high sodium taco seasoning with homemade.
  • And add in lots of veggies.
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Homemade tortilla chips have less fat and carbs then store bought chips.

To assemble your bowls, just fill with whatever veggies you have in your fridge.  I like a mix of romaine and spinach. Then I throw in some tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas (for that crunch!), bell peppers, green onions.  Add meat of your choice. I used ground beef for this one, but flank steak or chicken breast with some tex mex seasoning goes great (Check out my tex mex seasoning on Instagram here). Drizzle some avocado lime dressing over it, maybe a little pico de gallo or salsa and grab a handful of homemade chips. And there you have it, a healthier more satisfying version of your standard taco.

Recipes

For the chips:

Corn tortillas

Spray coconut oil

Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cut tortillas into triangles or strips
  3. Spritz with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Cook for 8-10 mins.  Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly.

 

Taco Meat:

2 pounds extra lean ground beef or turkey.

½ onion finely diced.

3 garlic cloves

1 Tb cumin

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

2 tb tomato paste

1 cup tomato sauce

  1. In a large, deep sided skillet brown the meat. Breaking it up into small pieces. Add onion garlic and seasonings. Cook till onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Cover and cook on med low for 1/2 hour. Taste and add salt and spices as needed. (This recipe is kid friendly so it is very mild.)

 

For the Avocado lime dressing:

1/3 cup nondairy plain unsweetened creamer (I used the Nutpod brand, but you can replace with a mixture of coconut milk and nut milk.)

1 avocado

1 bunch of cilantro

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

2 scallions

1 tb olive oil

juice from 1 lime.

  1. Throw everything into the blender and blend till nice and creamy.  You may need to add a few tablespoons water to thin it out to desired consistency.

 

 

 

 

THE NEW YOU

Lunch Hack

Almost every day I eat the exact same thing for lunch.  Bagged Salad.  They are so versatile and easy! They can be thrown together in under 5 mins and can easily be made ahead of time. I sometime make up 3 or 4 salads in mason jars to get me through the week.   I don’t always have time to prep some exotic exciting and nutritious lunch so I rely heavily on these salads.

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The chopped variety are hands down my favorites.  I find they tend to hold up well when prepped ahead of time then the more delicate salad greens, and they offer different veggie combinations, instead of the standard romaine lettuce.  The sweet kale and Brussels sprouts variety is my absolute favorite.  It comes with chopped (actually it mostly shredded) kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage with a poppy dressing and dried cranberry and pumpkin seed topping.  The cruciferous veggies (kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) supply a healthy amount of vitamin a, c, k and folate.  Also, when eaten raw like in this salad, they are high in sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a potent phytochemical that research has shown to have a positive effect on cancer and certain neurodegenerative diseases.

I’ve been able to find these salads at my local grocery store, Target and Costco.  All different brands, but comparable in taste and nutritional breakdown. Obviously the Costco sized one is the largest, but I’ve never had a problem finishing it before it has gone bad.

I just add in my own protein and croutons (because a salad MUST have crunch). Most nights, when making dinner, I cook an extra serving of protein (chicken breast or thighs, pork chops, steaks, etc.) and then I use the left over protein for the next day’s salad.   When assembling the salads, I tend to use a higher veggie to dressing/topping ratio then the bag recommends. Helping keep the fat and sugar content lower.  So if the bag says it contains 4 servings, for me that is usually 2-3 servings of veggies, and I just save the dressing and toppings for another salad.

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Mason jar salad for meal prep using bagged salad.

For meal prepping, layer these salads in a mason jar.  (Like I talked about here) First put the dressing in, then the salad mix (if using the hardier Brussel sprout and kale mix. If using more delicate greens, layer them last), next put in your protein, then top with the cranberries and seeds. Last but not least, put in whatever you need for crunch (I always add in 10 croutons).  Lunch is made! In under 5 minutes and if you meal prepped, it’s done for the week.

 

 

 

Make Ahead Mason Jar Lunches

Healthy lunches are hard when you are busy or not at home during the day.  It’s just too easy to run to the café or a nearby restaurant to grab something quick. So this week I have been I I would experimenting with some healthy lunches that you can make ahead of time.

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Mason Jar Cobb Salad

Food prep in mason jars has been all the rage lately.  My breakfast overnight oats in mason jars is one of my most popular recipes.  So I thought I would test some of these mason jar salads out and see if they held up to the hype.  Overall I was fairly impressed.   You can make a bunch on one day, vary the ingredients so you don’t get bored and they keep for a couple days in the fridge.

They last about 3-5 days in the fridge (to be honest, I feel 5 days is kind of stretching it. I would stick closer to 3.) The trick in making them is how you layer them. The order of ingredients is very important to keep everything delicious and not soggy.

Below are the basic instructions to making your own jars. By following these basic instructions, you can easily come up with your own versions. These are incredibly customizable and just like the overnight oats you can easily adjust for your own tastes.  I have also included a couple recipes I tested out below, a Cobb salad and a basic salad with quinoa.  (I am also testing out a zucchini noodle and quinoa salad.  If it is a success look for that recipe in a few days!)

You need wide mouth quart size mason jars. The pint size it just too small. The regular mouth could work, but it is just easier and less messy with the wide mouth.

  1. Dressing goes on the bottom. This helps keep the more delicate or absorbable ingredients from getting soggy.  Generally, I use 1-2 tablespoons.  But if you are dressing fanatic you can add more. Can adjust to your personal taste preferences.
  2. Layer the ingredients. After the dressing add the heaviest NON ABSORBANT ingredients, like carrots or cucumbers. Next add in any grains, beans or pasta. Then add in any cheese or protein. Next add in any soft veggies or fruit, like cut strawberries or avocado (if you are making these more than 24 hrs. ahead of time I would wait and add these the day of.) On top of these place any nuts, seeds or light grains (like quinoa! I layered the quinoa above the dressing in my recipe below and it ended up soaking up most of the dressing, so make sure you layer it up higher.) Last but not least, add the salad greens. When adding your greens, gently push everything down.  You want it fairly compacted to keep the layers mixing.
  3. Add perishables the day off. Things like avocado or fruit (or maybe hard boiled eggs) need to be added the day of (or at most the day before) I found in my experiments that anything more than 24 hrs. the avocado started to brown and the fruit started to break down.
  4. When it is time to eat: shake, shake, shake, shake it off. (sorry couldn’t help myself there). But seriously you need to really shake it up good.  Then pour onto a large plate or bowl and enjoy.  Technically you could eat it straight from the jar, but every time I did that I ended up making a huge mess. That might be my problem though.

 

After constructing the salads, tightly cap and store in the fridge.  When transporting them, try to keep them as up right as possible.  That will keep the dressing from mixing with the other ingredients.

 

Mason Jar Cobb Salad

Makes 2 quart jars

  • 2 Tb your favorite Ranch (I used Bolthouse)
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup grated carrots
  • ¼ cup sliced cucumber
  • 2 ounces avocado, diced
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 4 ounces cooked or grilled chicken breast, diced
  • 1/2 ounce blue cheese
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Layer everything in the mason jar in the order listed above.  Pack it tightly and secure lid.  Will last 24 hrs. as is, if making ahead of time add the avocado and egg in no more than 24 hrs. in advance.  When it’s time to eat, shake it up really well and pour on to large plate.

nutrition:

calories: 357 fat:18 carbs:18 Protein: 30

 

Quinoa salad Jar

  • 1 Tb Vinaigrette*
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup garbanzo beans
  • 1.5 oz. grilled chicken breast
  • ¼ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 oz. avocado
  • 2 cups salad greens

Layer everything in the mason jar in the order listed above.  Pack it tightly and secure lid.  Will last 24 hrs. as is, if making ahead of time add the avocado and egg in no more than 24 hrs. in advance.  When it’s time to eat, shake it up really well and pour on to large plate.

(In the pictures, you’ll notice I layered the quinoa right above the dressing.  I don’t recommend doing this.  The quinoa absorbed a lot of the dressing and got soggy.  By layering it up higher, it will stay dry and fluffy) *I used a basic homemade vinaigrette.

Nutrition:

Calories: 380 Fat: 11 carbs:39 Protein: 32