TURKEY TACOS


Enjoy the spicy and bright flavors of Mexican food, without the carb-busting and fried ingredients. The crisp romaine heart leaves will deliver the flavor we all know and love from our neighbor to the south. Lean ground turkey keeps the fat and calories low while absorbing the flavors of the tomatoes and spices.

Sadly, eating at a Mexican restaurant is one of the worst things for diabetics. The portions are unbelievably large, guaranteeing you will eat too many calories and carbohydrates. The tortillas and rice have enough carbs to blow your blood sugar levels for hours after you eat. The excessive amount of cheese and sour cream can only lead to weight gain. The worst offenders are the deep-fried chips and tortillas. The frying oil produces bad fat, that is saturated, and calorie dense which produce the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Take a frightening look at Chipotle’s nutrition calculator. It’s quite easy to make a 1,270 calorie salad with 100 grams of carbs (!). Think twice before you order that “healthy” salad. The kid’s meal works out to around 600 calories, which is the portion size an adult should be eating.

Stick to our recipe for a truly healthy and easy take on big Mexican flavors without the big pitfalls of dining out.

Allergens and substitutions: To avoid dairy replace the butter with olive oil.

 

HEALING BENEFITS

Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable. And it has the highest fat content of any fruit on the planet. However, the avocado’s fat is quite healthy and is packed with healing omega-3’s which are good for relieving arthritis and lubricating joints. It is also rich in antioxidants and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Don’t let the false “conventional wisdom” of the low-fat movement make you miss one of the most versatile and creamy fruits out there. Avocado is on the Clean Fifteen list, so it is okay to buy this conventionally grown to save some money.

 

Turkey is an excellent source of lean meat. A 4 oz (1/4 lb) piece of turkey meat can provide 65% of your daily protein needs. Turkey has vitamin B6 and B12, selenium and tryptophan. Since tryptophan is one of the building blocks for serotonin, it can cause sleepiness after eating. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and believed to be a contributor to our well-being and happiness. Only buy turkey (and poultry) that is raised without antibiotics to get truly healthy meat.

 

Bell peppers deliver on flavor, vitamin C and digestive fiber. This nightshade vegetable also has beneficial antioxidants for good heart and eye health. All bell peppers are heavily fertilized which is why they are on the Dirty Dozen list, so only buy organic. Here it is worth the extra money to reduce your intake to potential toxins.

 

PUTTING IT ALTOGETHER

Follow the instructions below to make this savory meal. There’s only a few things to dice up – the onion and red pepper. If you’re short on time, look for frozen diced onions. This will save some tears in the kitchen, too. Trader Joe’s has an excellent Taco Seasoning Packet. It is even sold on Amazon and will save you the time from making your own spice blend. The ingredient list is readable with real spices in it and no poor quality adders, like “yeast extract” nor “natural flavors” (read: MSG).

It’s good practice to pull out all the pots and pans you need before cooking. Likewise, pulling out the ingredients you need to measure or chop beforehand will simplify your cooking. The French call this practice mise en place which translates to “putting in place”. It is practiced in restaurants and taught to chefs in culinary school.

Substitution: If you can find 100% grass-fed beef, that can be used in place of the ground turkey (raised without antibiotics). It is what is pictured in the recipe here. Quality beef is actually lean in the nutrition counts and good for you. Cows that eat grass have higher amounts of healthy omega-3 fats while corn and antibiotic/hormone fed cows are low in good fats and higher in the inflammatory omega-6 fats.

Caution: Be mindful when working with raw poultry. It can easily spread germs, including salmonella, which can be fatal. When I handle the raw meat, I will not touch any other surfaces until I have washed my hands.

Put a large skillet on medium heat to warm it up. Add the butter to the pan to melt for a few seconds then add the diced onion. Stir it often until it has browned nicely (about 5 minutes). Then add your ground turkey or beef to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces. After the meat has cooked for a few minutes, add the taco seasoning spices and black pepper. There is already salt in the spice mix, so there is no need to add any more salt to this dish. Stir well to join the ingredients.

Your kitchen should be smelling delicious by this point. After the meat and spices have browned for a few minutes, add your can of tomatoes and the optional red chili flakes to the skillet. Here, I did not use my trusty cast-iron skillet, but a non-reactive stainless steel pan instead. The acidity from the tomatoes can react with the porous cast-iron and cause your meal to taste very metallic.

To make the “taco shells” for your filling, remove one leaf at a time from the romaine hearts. Trim the lower 1-1.5″ of the white from the bottom of the leaf. That white area can be bitter. Place a second leaf in the opposite direction to the first for a structurally sound vessel. Add the turkey filling then cover them with some raw red peppers, salsa and avocado. Finish with a squeeze of lime over the top and enjoy!

Serving Size: The easiest way to figure out the proper serving is by measuring the ingredients that go into this recipe. Once everything is cooked, divide the food between plates and lunch containers. Eyeballing this recipe to four parts for the 1,500 calorie plan or three parts for the 2,000 calorie plan is sufficient. I prefer to assemble these ingredients just before eating them. The romaine leaves do not hold up well to days in the refrigerator.

Turkey Tacos iv

TURKEY TACOS
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Enjoy the spicy and bright flavors of Mexican food, without the carb-busting and fried ingredients. The crisp romaine heart leaves will deliver the flavor we all know and love from our neighbor to the south. Lean ground turkey keeps the fat and calories low while absorbing the flavors of the tomatoes and spices.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 40 oz
Ingredients
  • Romaine Hearts, 1 Package
  • Ground Turkey, NO ANTIBIOTICS, 1.5 lb (Light or Dark)
  • Butter or Ghee, 3 tbsp
  • Taco Seasoning Packet, ½X (3 tbsp)
  • Optional: Black Pepper, ½ tsp
  • Optional: Red Chili Flakes, ½ tsp
  • Fire Roasted Tomatoes ½ Can
  • Onion, Diced, ½X
  • Red Pepper, ORGANIC, Diced, 1X
  • Avocado, Sliced, 1.5X
  • Lime, Juice of, 2X
  • Tomatillo Salsa, 8 tbsp
Instructions
  1. Put a large skillet on medium heat to warm it up. Add the butter to the pan to melt for a few seconds then add the diced onion. Stir it often until it has browned nicely (about 5 minutes).
  2. Then add your ground turkey or beef to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces.
  3. After the meat has cooked for a few minutes, add the taco seasoning spices and black pepper. Stir well to incorporate the ingredients.
  4. After the meat and spices have browned for a few minutes, add your can of tomatoes and the optional black pepper and red chili flakes to the skillet. Cook for another 5 minutes or until done.
  5. To make the “taco shells” for your filling, remove one leaf at a time from the romaine hearts. Trim the lower 1-1.5″ of the white from the bottom of the leaf. That white area can be bitter. Place a second leaf in the opposite direction to the first for a structurally sound vessel.
  6. Add the turkey filling then cover them with some raw red peppers, salsa and avocado. Finish with a squeeze of lime over the top and enjoy!

 

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Photo by liz west and Sharunas Jurevic.

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