Tastier Tacos

I have heard from several friends lately that tacos are one of their go-to meals.  Mine too!!  I love them and could probably eat them every day.  Well, I know I can actually because that is exactly what I have been doing while Aaron is on his cleanse.  Well, a taco salad actually.  But that is what is great about this meal…you make up a few basic ingredients and you end up with lots of options: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tostadas, yum!

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But if you eventually get sick of those tacos, here are a few great ways to spruce them up.

#1 – FRESH Pico de Gallo

I don’t think there is anything that adds a better flavor that homemade salsa.  At least that has so few calories and so many vegetables that is.  I had a pile of tomatoes from the garden that I needed to use up fast so I busted out my college roommate’s recipe and got to work.  You still make this recipe Erika Loveland??

7 large tomatoes
1 onion
1 bunch cilantro
2 green chilies (seeded, unless you are ready for some heat of course!)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp garlic salt
1 TBSP vinegar
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried red chili
1 tsp dried basil

Chop, Mix, Chill, and enjoy!  It also tastes good with eggs or a baked potato; what else do you put your salsa on??

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Peppers are another great add-in, and another healthy vegetable!  Instead of just frying them on the stove, try roasting them or grilling them for more ooomph.  And for an even deeper flavor, ditch your usual bell pepper and go for the poblano.  It is not spicy (unless you leave those seeds in!), but rich and smoky.  Just pop it in the oven at 400, using tongs to rotate it every 5 minutes until ll sides are slightly charred.

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My all-time favorite topping is the caramelized onion.  I could probably eat it on everything.  It and the peppers are a great way to jazz up burgers and homemade pizza.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a pile of butter or oil to get a tasty caramelized onion.  Just get a sweet onion (Walla Walla are the best, in my opinion, but maybe if you are in the south you would argue for the Vidalia)!

  • Set your frying pan on medium heat, spray it with olive oil, then add the onion.
  • Cook until it is starting to get pretty brown on one side.
  • Give it a good stir and then add enough water to cover the bottom.
  • Cook until it is starting to get pretty brown on the other side.
  • Give it a good stir and then add enough water to cover the bottom.
  • Are you getting the picture?  Keep doing this until the onions are as soft and sweet as your taste buds desire.

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For this week I just used ground turkey with the Costco Taco Seasoning.  I like the flavor of that and it doesn’t have any MSG like a lot of packaged seasonings.  Do any of you purists have a good recipe for Taco Seasoning that you like to use?

With all this deliciousness you don’t even need to add cheese or sour cream! My cheese loving family may disagree though.  Of course you may want to toss in some healthier fats like avocado or a dab of greek yogurt.  Yum!  What are your favorite ways to jazz up tacos?

Chicken Enchiladas

I am a huge fan of Mexican food.  Well I should probably say Tex-Mex since I have never been to Mexico and doubt the accuracy of our replications, but I love them anyway.  Growing up in Texas, we of course ate it a lot and just the smell of it feels like home.  When my dad makes chicken enchiladas, he usually makes them with a cream sauce that is delicious, but for times when you want less calories it is nice to have a delicious AND healthy option, which is definitely this one from Eating for Life.

Though my dad himself would probably lot like these because they feature cilantro, but I myself could eat them once a week and be happy.  Sometimes I can’t believe that my dad doesn’t like cilantro, but when he described the experience on his mission that made him hate it, I can’t fault him for it since I had my own that bred a strong hatred of mushrooms.

But if you love a good salsa verde and love cilantro like I do (and all you other Cafe Rio lovers out there), you’ll love these!!  Feel free to leave out the cheese for less calories or lactose intolerance like I did for Aaron’s half.  He says it tastes just as good, but I like those calories myself!

Mom’s Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

4 portions chicken breast (about 1 lb)
4 green onions, sliced
2T fresh cilantro chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
3 cans (10 oz. each) green enchilada sauce
8 corn tortillas
1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tomato, diced
1 can (2 oz) ripe olives, sliced

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Shred chicken by pulling apart with 2 forks; set aside.

3. Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add green onion, cilantro and jalapeno; sauté for 2 minutes. Add shredded chicken and 1 can of enchilada sauce. Cook stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Pour the 2 remaining cans of enchilada sauce in a medium bowl and microwave until warm, about 2 minutes. Dip each tortilla in the heated sauce and fill with about 1/8 of the chicken mixture. Roll up and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish.

5. Pour remaining heated sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until enchiladas are heated through and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

6. Divide lettuce onto four plates and place a portion of enchiladas on top. Top with a spoonful of salsa, a dollop of sour cream, tomatoes and olives. Serve and enjoy.

NUTRITION: Calories 434 / Fat 13 g / Carbs 40 / Protein 39 g / Fiber 6 g

Great Green Chili

As promised, I am back with more soup to keep you warm and happy on these January nights.  It comes from Eating for Life, the companion cookbook to Bill Phillips’ Body for Life, which was the first regimented program I ever tried to consciously eat healthier.  For those who don’t really love cooking, I would definitely recommend it as the recipes in it are quite simple.  This one is a favorite.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 packages Knorr Roasted Chicken Gravy Mix
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 jalapenoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) white hominy, drained

I won’t tell you the instructions in the cookbook because that’s not what I do…I’ll give you my lazy instructions.   Dump all but the last two ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning and put on low for 8 hours.  If you forget, you can also do it at lunch and just cook it on high.  No worries.  Then an hour before you want to eat throw in the cilantro and the hominy so the flavor of the cilantro pops and the hominy is not soggy. 

If you love hominy as much as I do, please put in two cans instead of one.  If you aren’t a fan at all, like my sister, you can subsitute corn very easily.  Also if you have a gluten intolerance or you just like a thinner, broth-type soup you can also leave out the gravy altogether.  They suggest serving with warm flour tortillas, but I always prefer some yummy cornbread.  Up to you.

Makes 8 1.5-cup servings.

NUTRITION: Calories: 167/Fat 3.5 g/Protein 11.6 g/Carbohydrate: 21.6 g/Fiber 3.5 g