As a Texan, I feel obligated to say that I enjoy Tex-Mex. It’s an unofficial requirement of living here, in addition to being passionate about football, guns, and beef.
Before I became a citizen of Texas over four years ago, I enjoyed Tex-Mex for the margaritas. That’s it. I’ve never loved the scalding hot plates of fried tortillas smothered in goopy, greasy cheese. Just give me my salted margarita- frozen or on the rocks, I don’t discriminate- and leave me be.
Once marrying my beloved Texan and taking up residence in the Lone Star State, the frequency in which I attended Tex-Mex restaurants increased exponentially. I’m talking from a few times a year to a few times a week. I had to quickly learn how to navigate a Tex-Mex menu to discover the healthier options hidden amongst the sea of the soggy, the breaded, and the deep-fried.
So, taco salads sounded safe enough. Right? What could possibly be harmful about a little lettuce, tomatoes, and taco meat? Uh, not so much. I’ve seen taco salads served with almost a cup of sour cream slapped on top, enough cheese to fill a dozen quesadillas, and, my personal favorite, in a deep-fried tortilla bowl smothered in queso dip. True story, I couldn’t make that last one up.
Not all taco salads are created equal. If you order them carefully, you certainly can get something low-carb, high-protein, and that will keep you on track with your health and fitness goals.
But the more and more taco salads I have out, the more and more I realize I can just make them better myself and opt for fajitas.
Taco salad is one of those summertime essentials for me. Here is Texas, there are nights when you sweat just getting out of your car. Yes, it stays hot at night time. Like, 90 degrees at 9:00 p.m. No me gusta, y’all. On those days, you need a meal that you can just pull out of the fridge, slop together, and eat cold.
Not only is this recipe one you can make-ahead, it can be adaptaed to any dietary needs. Vegan? Just omit the meat and swap in mushrooms into your sautéed veggies. Paleo? Just keep cheese out of the picture. Low-carb? Go easy on the corn chips or just don’t invite them to the party at all.
This meal is a super easy one for football entertaining, too (Tennessee’s first game of the season is TONIGHT! GO VOLS!!!!!). Make the taco meat-mixture earlier that day or the day before, then just set up a taco salad bar with all of the possible toppings scattered on your counter. Your guests assemble their meal themselves, leaving you more time to enjoy the game.
In case you needed ANOTHER reason to make this, it's mega kid-friendly. If they’re not crazy about lettuce, have them make a taco bowl of whatever ingredients they do like. I highly recommend keeping the corn chips around for the little people; they seem to be welcomed in any situation with kiddos.
Before you watch the first big game of the season this weekend (or tonight my fellow Volunteer fans), have a batch of this on hand to make your life and your guests’ lives all the better!
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!