Tacos originated in Mexico and have since made their way north to become a popular food accross North America. But why eat fatty restaurant tacos? Instead, invite your friends and family over, make your own and have a taco party!
Set out a self-serve buffet of tortillas, chopped vegetables, low-fat cheese, and grilled or sautéed meats or beans. A serving is two tacos, based on our taco-building approach.
How to Build a Taco
1. Put corn or small flour tortilla on plate.
2. Top with 1⁄4 cup (golf ball) of either lean ground beef, ground turkey, shredded turkey, meatless crumbles, or fat-free refried beans.
3. Add 2 tablespoons (2 thumbs) shredded reduced-fat jack or cheddar cheese, guacamole, and/or sliced olives (total of 2 tablespoons).
4. Cover with vegetables and sauce-chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, diced red and green peppers, minced red onion, diced or sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped green chilies, salsa.
5. Fold over and eat.
For corn tortilla and ground beef: Calories 430, fat 22 g, saturated fat 10 g, cholesterol 80 mg, sodium 670 mg, carbohydrate 33 g, fibre 5 g, protein 27 g, calcium 300 mg.
The Right Cheese
Mexican queso fresco is a soft white cheese with a mild flavour, similar to Monterey jack cheese. Check the label to make sure yours is made from pasteurized milk, which limits the chances of bacterial contamination. Other popular taco cheeses include pepper jack and cheddar. Look for grated reduced-fat varieties to save a few calories, or shred your own using a grater with fine holes. Chill the cheese well before grating to help prevent it from falling apart.
Traditional Mexican refried beans, frijoles refritos, are made by sautéeng diced onion and sometimes garlic in lard, then adding and mashing pinto or other types of beans. Make your own lower-fat, lower-calorie version by cooking onion in a nonstick skillet with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and a splash of chicken or vegetable broth until the onion is soft. Add a can of pinto beans plus a teaspoon of ground cumin and mash the beans as they cook in the skillet. Or you might find fat-free canned refried beans in the specialty foods section of your grocery store.
Tips on Tortillas
Corn tortillas have fewer calories than flour tortillas because they aren’t made with added fat. And corn tortillas can deliver another bonus: when they’re made with lime, a calcium compound, they dish up a decent amount of this important mineral. Coloured corn tortillas are made from corn kernels that grow in a rainbow of colours, most commonly blue and red. They are just as nutritious as regular corn tortillas. Some say that blue corn tortillas have a stronger corn flavour. In any case, they add to the festivity of a taco party. Crisp tortillas are usually fried, and that gives them about double the calorie count of a soft tortilla.