How To Make Guilt Free Taco Salad:

Seasoned Ground Beef:
1/2 Small onion approx 4 tbsp finely chopped onion
1/2 jalapeño pepper finely chopped approx 2 tbsp
1/4 green bell pepper finely chopped approx 2 tbsp
1/2 medium tomato drained of liquid, approx 2 tbsp
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound ground beef

Dry Seasonings for Ground beef:
1 tbsp Onion powder
1 tbsp Garlic powder
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp Cumin
1 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper if you like it spicy 1 tbsp
1 1/2 New mexico chili powder if you like it spicy 1 tbsp

Small batch Pico De Gallo:
2 tbsp chopped tomato
2 tbsp chopped white onion
1 tbsp chopped jalapeño
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime

Guacamole for two:
1 cup of cherry/sugar plum tomatoes washed halved and drain seeds
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped jalapeño
juice from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1 lime

Black Beans:
1 can black beans
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
fresh cracked black pepper
A splash olive oil

Additional Ingredients:
Pre washed lettuce mix (bag)
Finely shredded Mexican Mix low-fat cheese
Low-Fat Sour Cream
No preservative no sugar added roasted red and tomatillo salsa, by Trader Joe’s refrigerated section.

I know it seems like there are so many elements to this recipe, but that is only because it is a meal in a bowl and each item needs to be prepped separately, but it is not as dramatic as it seems. The combination of flavors is so worth the time, and it is totally guilt free!

To shorten the prep time you can cut up an entire onion and one to two whole jalapeños, and then measure it out from your pre-chopped prep to assemble the various parts.

Cook and Season the meat:
Start with your protein. I use lean ground beef, but you can use turkey or a veggie option like mushrooms or tofu. Take the measured amounts of white onion, jalapeno, green bell pepper, and tomato and toss it all into a large frying pan. Make sure you drain the liquid from the tomato prior to cutting it up, and all that of the ingredients listed are finely chopped. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil and let it all cook down on medium/low until the contents of your pan are soft. If you are chopping as you go along then start with the onion and jalapeño first.

Once this base is ready add in the meat and the dry spices. The cumin is the key dried spice, and you’ll know in an instant this is what makes the tacos you buy out at a restaurant taste so good.

As always, if you have an aversion to spicy food then add less chili powder, or alternatively none at all. I find paprika is a nice substitute in mostly any recipe for non-spicy folks.

Small Batch Pico De Gallo:
Whenever I make pico de gallo I always end up with so much leftover, so figuring out measurements for a smaller batch was a must! This part of the recipe is super easy, and requires zero cooking time. All you need is to chop, measure, combine and mix. You can also make this the day before because it can taste better the second day when all of the ingredients have had a chance to marinate together.

Guacamole for two:
I love guacamole, and it is just SO EASY to make at home, we should all do it more often. Chop and follow the measurements. This particular recipe calls for cherry or sugar plum tomatoes. I was recently in Mexico and came across a guacamole with small tomatoes. Like I mentioned before, make sure you drain the liquid from the little tomatoes after slicing them in half. What really makes the difference here is using both lemon and lime juice. It is not a necessity but it sure gives a boost of flavor. Be sure to save your avocado seed and put it the bowl with the fully prepared guacamole, it prevents it from turning brown.

Canned black beans:
If you have the patience and the time to make beans from scratch then more power to you! These days it is much easier to find high quality canned black beans without additives. I really like the organic black beans from Trader Joe’s. Rinse the beans before putting them in the sauce pan. Add a bit of olive oil and any seasoning you like. Giving it a hint of garlic powder and black pepper adds the right amount of flavor. Cook on low until they look ready. I didn’t go overboard with seasoning the beans since they will be plated with pico, guac, and ground beef which will all be bursting with flavor and spice.

When the time comes for plating start with your lettuce. Really any kind of lettuce will do the trick. Most go for the iceberg. I go for a mixture but always pre-washed in a bag. What can I say? I am lazy that way!

Beyond that I like to set up a “Taco Bar” with little spoons in everything so we can build our own. Usually sour cream is shunned at my house, but when running across the low cal option at the store I decided to go for it. It adds a little creamy coolness to all of that hot spice!



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