5 WAYS TO BUILD A HEALTHIER TACO

In search of how to make a healthier taco? Look no further than this Chipotle Chicken Taco recipe, plus 5 tips on building your own version with culinary nutrition Expert Anne Assassi.

In California, tacos are fundamental to our cuisine. That’s why I’m constantly in search of amazing taco recipes to make at home for friends and family. Let me tell you, these chipotle chicken tacos are the best I’ve ever made. Not only is this recipe delicious, it’s pretty darn healthy too.

Many people think that tacos are a guilty pleasure and that they’re inherently unhealthy. But in reality, they can be quite the opposite. My suggested serving size of two tacos from this recipe has enough fat to keep you satiated while the saturated fat is kept in check, and the sodium is acceptable unless you’re on a low-salt diet.

What is really great about these tacos is that while they have a good amount of vitamin and calcium, as well as fiber. Hint: in addition to the vegetables, each tortilla has 2g of fiber. If you double up on your tortillas like I do, you’re well on your way to meeting your fiber needs for the day. Are you convinced that tacos can be a part of a healthy diet yet?

Here a few tips for healthier tacos in general:

1. Keep your portion size in check.

If you’re consuming 6-inch tortillas, I recommend about two tacos. If you’re a tall athlete, sure, you can have more. But if you’re shorter and trying to manage your weight, you may want to fill the tacos with more vegetables than meat. For 3-inch tortillas (street taco style), you’re likely safe with three.

2. Watch the meat.

Vegetarian, seafood, and chicken tacos are all great choices unless any components are fried. Pork and beef can be acceptable, but keep in mind that the less red meat you eat throughout the week, the lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

3. Load the veggies.

Fill up on vegetables for fiber because they are low in calories and contribute to fullness. Salsa can be a low-calorie addition but can also be high in sodium, so if you have hypertension, you may want to be mindful of how much you’re having.

4. Add some beans.

A great way to add some more fiber, choose pinto or black beans instead of refried as refried beans at restaurants can pack in a lot of calories. If you’re cooking at home, there are several varieties of canned refried beans that are low in saturated fat and also a good choice. However, keep in mind that if you’re salt sensitive, many canned beans contain a fair amount of sodium, so look at your labels!

5. Enjoy!

Eating the tacos is what’s best about tacos, right?

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

(for the original recipe)

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 large bone-in chicken thighs, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 3 scallions, left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme branch
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1 allspice berry (or a pinch of ground allspice)
  • 2 cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 or 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can
  • ½ cup broth (use broth from simmered chicken)
  • 16 fresh corn tortillas
TO GARNISH
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 thinly sliced serrano chiles
  • 4 thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 sliced avocado
  • Crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
  • Crème fraîche or Mexican crema
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Dried oregano
  • Lime wedges

For the full recipe and instructions, visit here!


Anne Assassi, MS, RDN is a private practice dietitian and health coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A lover of home-cooked culinary creations, Anne helps individuals discover the art of healthy eating as an enjoyable creative experience in our homes that allows us to be our healthiest selves. Connect with Anne to create your most inspired and healthiest kitchen!

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