Fitness whole taco in my mouth!
But seriously, I’m a Texan. Tex-Mex is not just a cuisine. It’s a way of life.
Let me tell you a story. Picture it: Wisconsin, 2012. I was at my all-time heaviest weight. I had lived my entire life in Texas, but somehow ended up in southern Wisconsin. My kids and I spent several weeks exploring the area, trying to find things that would interest us, and hoping to find little pieces of home in this strange new land. And then I came to the startling conclusion that we were going to have to live without Tex-Mex. We would have to adapt. There was no Tex-Mex to be found. If you searched hard enough, there were some Southwest type Mexican restaurants, but no Taco Cabana, no Ninfa’s, no queso-covered chimichangas, no delicious scratch-made tortillas within a 200-mile radius. Things were looking bleak for my taco cravings.
A funny thing happened when I found myself utterly devoid of all of that deliciousness. I lost 20 pounds over the course of 9 months. I’m not kidding! Just the simple act of cutting out tortillas, chips, queso, tacos, burritos, and the occasional sopapilla led to weight loss. I did nothing else differently. Wonders never cease. It’s almost like all the food I had grown up with and loved was no good for me at all.
Fast forward to 2018. I got this hair-brained idea that I didn’t have to be over 200 lbs forever. I exercised, of course. But I’ve never had much success with restrictive diets. It’s boring. I end up with meals looking like this:
I can’t eat like that every day, and I refuse to do so.
So I made up my own plan. I decided on a daily calorie deficit goal and started counting. It’s amazing how much you learn about the foods you eat once you start tracking everything and reading labels. I found ways to shave off calories here and there and tweaked as I went along. You know what went first? Sodas and sweets. Then bread. Next, full fat cheese. Before long I was trying hard just to get to my calorie goal, and I never felt starved.
*Note: I am not a nutritional expert or personal trainer. This is based on my own experiences.*
It was during this time that I came up with this taco alternative. Here’s what I did:
- Brown 1 lb of super lean ground beef. I like the 96/4 stuff, but the ground sirloin had a great flavor, too.
- Season the taco meat. You can use your own mix of salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder, or whatever spices you like. I just used a Taco Bell taco seasoning packet.
- Add 1 can of Ro-tel tomatoes and about 1/4 cup of water. I like the original, but my BF loves the hot one. Make it to your taste.
- Add 1/2-1 can of rinsed black beans. If you want lower carbs, leave these out.
- Simmer on low until the fixings are ready.
- Slice an avocado, dice a tomato, and rinse your lettuce scoops, if necessary. Also have handy whatever shredded cheese you like. We used fat-free cheese while cutting calories, as it is only 45 calories per 1/4 cup. You may also want salsa or guacamole. This is entirely up to you.
- Assemble. If using guac, spread this on the lettuce scoop leaf. Layer the taco meat, tomatoes, cheese, and sliced avocado (if you didn’t use guac or just love avocados)
- You’re done. Eat.
We have found that you don’t really need side dishes with this meal, but of course, do whatever feels right for you. When we started out, we would make Spanish rice and I’d have a little spoonful on the side just for the taste of it. Eventually I didn’t need it.
Give it a try. You might find that taking this one step will help you find other ways to add good, healthy meals into your life. If you have a go-to healthy meal, let me know!