Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lightened Up taco Salad!

Happy 2013!  I’ve decided that this year is the year I am going to make some changes.  I say this every year, but this year….I’m serious.  Actually, I am pretty sure I say that every year too.  But, I’m not getting any younger.  Let’s just say that my birthday is in a couple of days, and I am on the downhill slide towards 40.  I have got to stop eating like I am 21.  And I definitely need to be more consistent with exercise.

I know you all don’t want to hear about my weight/aging woes, but I bet you do want to see my yummy recipe that I have for you today.  As you may have guessed, this recipe is going to be low in fat, low in calories and super high in taste.  I am going to show you how to make one of my favorite meals….a taco salad.  But this will be a lightened up taco salad.

There is a restuarnat that is close to where I grew up that makes the best taco salad.  I think it is the ultimate taco salad.  It is full of beef, cheese, salsa, chips, avocado and it is topped with a thousand island dressing that makes the whole thing even yummier, and even worse for me.  My taco salad is filled with lean chicken, salsa, baked chips and is topped with a light dressing that is made with sour cream (fat free!), avocado, garlic, limes and one more ingredient that I will show you later.

Let’s start with the chicken.  This chicken is perfect for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, salads, etc.  The best part, it is made in the slow cooker.  I use boneless skinless chicken breasts, V-8 juice, and a packet of taco seasoning.  That’s it.  It is just three ingredients, but this makes the juiciest, most flavorful chicken everytime.  Trust me, I’ve been making this chicken since college.

The chicken cooks on low all day, and when it is done, it shreds perfectly.  I like to shred my chicken and then return it to the cooking liquid so it stays nice and moist.  FYI-if you prefer chicken thighs, go for it.  Chicken thighs have a bit more fat though. And oh yeah, if you can’t find V-8 juice, any tomato/vegetable juice will work.

As for the salsa I use for this taco salad, yep….I make it too.  Salsa is, of course, always low in fat and calories, to there won’t be any surprises there, but I jam pack my salsa with tomatoes, onion, green chilis, black beans, corn and cilantro.  I use canned tomatoes so the taste is always consistent no matter what the season .  I add the corn and black beans to bulk up the salsa and add some extra fiber. 


This salsa isn’t just good on my taco salad.  It rocks on steak, hamburgers, fish, etc.  It is also great with just a bag of chips.  I love it because it is so full of pretty colors and amazing flavors!

I use green chilis in my salsa because I am feeding children that won’t eat spicy stuff.  If you want, feel free to use jalapenos in yours.

Are you wondering what I use for chips?  Well, I buy tortillas that are low in fat, and make my own.  I slice them into wedges and bake them until they are crunchy.  Before they get their trip to the oven, they get sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with chili powder and garlic salt.  Yum!

Now for the best part, the dressing!  Like I said above, I blend together fat free sour cream, avocado, lime juice, salt, garlic and I also use a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid from the chicken.  If you are making this dressing, but not the chicken, you can sub in hot sauce here.

This dressing is creamy, fresh and absolutely delicious.  But really, what wouldn’t be good with avacados in it!  You can use this dressing on tacos and burritos to in place of sour cream or guacamole.  Same flavors, less fat and calories.

Now that I’ve shown you how to make the components of this salad, let’s layer this bad boy up.  I start with a bed of lettuce, then I layer on the shredded chicken, a healthy helping of salsa, baked chips, yummy dressing, and I top the whole thing off with a few squirts of lime.  This salad really could not get any better.  It has all the flavors of a perfect taco salad, but it really isn’t heavy and overly filling like a typical taco salad.  Don’t you think you want to try it?


Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

11.5 ounces V-8 Juice (one can)

1 pack taco seasoning (1.25 ounces)

Place all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low 4-6 hours.  Remove cooked chicken from slow cooker and shred.  Return to the pot to sit in cooking juices.

Serves 4


Courtney’s Corn and Black Bean Salsa

14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained

4 ounces fire roasted green chilis, drained

1 cup canned corn, drained

1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup red onion, diced

3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

½ teaspoon salt

The juice of 2 limes, about 3 tablespoons

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix, gently.  Serve cold.

Makes about 4 cups.


Baked Tortilla Chips

4 flour tortillas, 96% fat free

Cooking spray

1 tablespoon garlic salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut tortillas into wedge shapes.  Spray both sides with cooking spray.  Sprinkle spices over the cops of chips.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Taco Salad Dressing

1 avacado, peeled and diced

1 cup fat free sour cream (Naturally Yours)

The juice of 2 limes, about 3 tablespoons

½ teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove

3 tablespoons cooking liquid from Mexican Chicken or hot sauce

Place all ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Makes about 2 cups.

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