Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days to a Cleaner Diet {13}: Taco Dinner Overhaul

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a post about clean and healthy snack options, but I wanted to do one more post like yesterday’s where I do an overhaul to a typical American dinner.  Today we’re all about tacos.  YUM. 

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{Click here to see the other posts in this series.}

I can’t say that I’ve ever been unhappy when the menu includes Mexican food – anyone else relate? :)  That said, when we went to Mexico on our honeymoon, I was surprised to find that the food is not nearly as spicy as we make it up here.  Well, spicy or not, when mama has Mexican she is a happy camper. ;)

So let’s start again with a typical taco night:

Feedlot beef
Taco seasoning with fillers and preservatives
Taco shells or tortillas loaded with genetically-modified corn and preservatives

Sour cream
Shredded lettuce

Pretty typical, right? Give or take a few things like guacamole, olives, and beans depending on the family.

Let’s clean it up!

1. Feedlot beef

We talked about this yesterday, but it’s worth repeating: if you can’t buy quality beef, don’t buy it.  There’s a couple of ways around this:  either buy the good stuff and don’t have tacos that often, or you can also stretch the beef with beans in the skillet (which is budget and health friendly).  I personally like to add chopped onion to my taco meat, as well. 

2. Taco seasoning

I bought packets of taco seasoning for years and never thought twice about it.  Those suckers have some really unhealthy things in them:  

{clearly, my source is Amazon}

The ingredient list, taken right from Amazon's website: contains partially-hydrogenated oil, MSG, and TWO preservatives. 


I’ll give you the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom.  It’s delicious and you can keep it pre-mixed in your pantry if you want to!

3.  Preservative-laden tortillas and taco shells

Remember, when you buy plain corn or something with corn in it, you can basically bet your life that it’s been genetically modified, unless it’s labeled as organic.  Additionally, the last time I looked at crispy taco shells in the store, they were all packed with TBHQ (a preservative).  Gross.  Here's the ingredient list of a famous soft tortilla brand (click picture to enlarge):

Icky.  Your body is too good for that! :)  Last week I re-posted a super-easy and delicious tortilla recipe.  If you don’t have time to make homemade tortillas, make taco salads instead!  You can top the salads with broken tortilla chips (I bought a fairly large bag of Archer Farms organic tortilla chips – no GMOs! – at Target yesterday for $2.99.  To me, that’s a great price. ) 

4.  Salsa

Every so often, I am lucky to find organic salsa on sale for the price (or even cheaper!) of regular salsa.  (Local friends: “Nature’s Promise” by Stop & Shop.)  I don’t stress too much about this, since thankfully salsa seems to be made with pretty much whole ingredients (at least the brands I buy).   Organic is a plus, but since tomatoes aren’t on the Dirty Dozen list, it’s not too big of a deal to me.

5.  Sour Cream and Cheese

Again, I shared that I haven’t switched all my dairy over to organic yet – just my milk, yogurt and eggs.  This is such a crapshoot for me because I read in one of Jillian Michaels’ books (I believe it was Master Your Metabolism?)that the fat is where the pesticides reside in an animal – so avoid full-fat dairy products when you’re eating non-organic.  Jillian Michaels 'Master Your Metabolism' Book (Hardback)However, reduced-and fat-free dairy products tend to be loaded with junk and fillers (sour cream included) so I usually just buy whole-fat sour cream.  Honestly, this type of stuff could drive you bonkers!  I tend to see it like this:  unless they’re organic, even the lower-fat versions have pesticides in them, plus they have fillers.  At least the full-fat versions are whole foods, even though they have pesticides as well.  Depressing, right?!  Cheeses and other dairy products are the next big area I’ll be working on in my own life. 

6.  Shredded lettuce and tomatoes

Do your best to always buy organic lettuce, and remember, when it comes to greens, the darker the better!  If you can’t find or afford organic tomatoes, at least try to wash them thoroughly. 


Okay, so let’s look at our cleaned-up taco night!

Grass-fed beef (with or without beans for filler!)
Homemade taco seasoning (recipe below)
Homemade tortillas

All-natural salsa (organic is a bonus!)
Full-fat sour cream and cheese (preferably organic, but you might be like me and have a hard time finding this)
Organic lettuce
Thoroughly washed tomatoes (organic is a bonus!)

That looks a lot more appetizing, doesn’t it?  I’m totally starving now.  lol

What do YOU think about the full-fat/reduced-fat debate?  I’m curious to know what you do in your own house. 




Homemade Taco Seasoning*

1 tsp. of each of the following:

garlic powder
onion powder
sea salt
chili powder

Use as you would a normal packet of taco seasoning!

*I usually am good about writing down my source for things but this one I just jotted down and don’t currently have the source for – if it was you, let me know! haha


  1. thanks for the taco seasoning recipe! i would have never thought to make that. :)

  2. We use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. The kids never even noticed. And thanks for the seasoning recipe, I'll have to give it a try.

  3. Oooh, that is a great idea, Kristen! I'll have to try that!

  4. We use organic plain yogurt instead of sour cream too! Thanks for sharing the seasoning recipe. I can't tell you how many times this year I've gone to make tacos and pulled out my yellow jar of Old El Paso, only to put it back {I really should toss it} and try to make up my own. Can't wait to try yours! :)


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