I think we can all agree that tacos are awesome! If you’re like me, you may have celebrated Taco Tuesday once or twice.  As for the best taco recipe, I wanted to share my favorite easy healthy taco recipes with you throughout this post. I also want to explain how these healthy taco recipes can benefit your health. So sit back, and get ready for my taco ideas that are simple and quick to make!

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According to the Smithsonian Mag the taco made its first appearance in the US around 1905 when the Mexican migrants started coming over for mining and railroad jobs. Tacos were initially associated with the Chili Queens, a group of women who sold tamales from pushcarts during festivals.

Today, tacos have blown up!  We now have a special hashtag, #TacoTuesdays swarming Instagram and Twitter these days. I think the reason for this weekly ritual is pretty obvious — tacos are awesome – but what if you could eat tacos that are:

  • low in trans and saturated fats
  • contain low amounts of cholesterol or none all together
  • and are considered a low calorie taco?

 

Here are 8 tested, tried, and truly amazing easy healthy taco recipes that I absolutely love! I must point out that these healthy taco recipes do not contain any ground beef or chicken like your traditional restaurant tacos. Before I discuss the recipes, let’s take a minute to review some red meat facts.

Ground Beef

 

If you didn’t read my previous post on the dangers of red meat that’s ok. I am going to give you a small breakdown and explanation before we get into the taco recipes.

 

These totals are based on a 1/2 lb of lean ground beef you would purchase from the supermarket:

 

  • Calories: 753
  • Total Fat: 68 g  = 104 % of your daily value 
  • Saturated Fat: 26 g  = 130% of your daily value
  • Trans Fat: 4 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 30 g
  • Cholesterol: 177 mg
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Potassium: 494 mg
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 152 mg

 

Yikes! Lean ground beef is extremely high in cholesterol.  Red meat also contains the “bad” fats like trans fat and saturated fats. This can affect your HDL cholesterol levels which is bad for your health.  There are other food options you can eat to reach the daily recommended values of proteins, and potassium.  Let’s take a look at the ingredients that are of concern.

 

High Cholesterol

 

The risk factors for high levels of cholesterol include stroke, heart disease, and peripheral artery disease. These risks are a direct results from plaque buildup in your arteries. This causes your blood flow to decrease, and affects the overall function of the cells and organs that the blood vessels are meant to supply.

 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recognized 31.7% of adults in the United States have high cholesterol levels. To put this in perspective, that’s 73.5 million Americans affected with high cholesterol levels.  It is said that only 29% (that’s less than 1 out of every 3 adults) have their cholesterol levels under control.

 

“Bad” Fats

 

Saturated and trans fats are considered “bad fats”. These fats affect your HDL cholesterol lipid profile. By increasing your HDL cholesterol levels, this increases your risks of developing heart disease.

 

Trans fats are found naturally in some meats and dairy, but those found in processed foods are among the absolute worst for your health. A study that included 18,000 participants showed a 25% increased risk of death among those with the highest levels of trans fat consumption.

 

Saturated fats are basically the fats that you can “visually see.” They can also be found in:

 

  • high-fat cheeses
  • high-fat cold cuts
  • whole-fat milk and cream
  • butter
  • ice cream

 

Even though red meat has been linked directly to diseases, cancers, and health risks, I understand you may not cut meat out of your diet.  I am not here to scare you or cut meat out of your diet. The purpose of this website is to educate you on your health.  After all, You are what you eat.  With anything moderation is important.

 

Recipes

If you would like to download the following recipes, click the button below.

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Now, let’s compare some of the nutritional totals of lean ground beef to these healthy taco recipes. Some of these tacos surprisingly have more protein than ground meat does! I promise, you’re sure to find a taco alternative that will rock your socks and impress your friends!

 

Crispy Coconut Lime Baked Cauliflower Taco Recipe

Cauliflower-Tacos-3

This healthy taco recipe comes from Veggie Inspired Journey.

 

Cauliflower is naturally high in water content and fiber, both of which aid in losing weight, preventing constipation, and maintaining a healthy digestive tract.

 

Cauliflower is also full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that are known to prevent cancer. The specific kinds of antioxidant found in this vegetable is indole-3-carbinol or I3C, which has been proven to lower the risk of reproductive and breast cancers in men and women.

 

Additionally, the bitter taste that comes with cauliflower is due to the sulfur compounds like sulforaphane. In a which has been closely associated with reducing the chances of both colon and lung cancers.

 

Still not convinced to give cauliflower a go? Well, the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index ranks it among the top 20 foods based on the ANDI score when vitamins, minerals, phytonutrient content was measured. Only foods with the highest amount of nutrients and a small amount of calories make the top rankings.

 

1 medium head of Cauliflower– 5-6″ in diameter:

  • Calories: 146
  • Total Fat: 1.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.4 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Potassium: 1758 mg
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Sodium: 176 mg

 

Portobello and Zucchini Taco Recipe

port-zuch

You can find this recipe at Martha Stewart

 

This is one of my favorite soft taco recipes! You can use a hard shell, but I prefer the soft taco for this one 🙂

 

Portobello mushrooms provide you with 15% of your daily value of pantothenic acid, which helps with the release of energy from fat, protein, and carbs consumed in your food. These healthy mushrooms also contain two other very important D vitamins.

 

Riboflavin (29% of your daily value) which maintains healthy red blood cells, and niacin (38% of your daily value) which gives you glowing skin and a properly functioning digestive system.

 

Niacin has also been known to increase your “good” cholesterol by 30% through the process of moving the bad cholesterol back into your blood for your liver to dispose of it.

 

Essentially the B vitamins packed into portobello mushrooms are a rich resource for maintaining a healthy:

 

  • metabolism
  • nervous system
  • liver
  • eyes
  • skin
  • hair

 

Muscle function, heart rhythm and nerve function are balanced through the amount of potassium found in portobellos (630 mg per serving) which is more than a banana! Pretty good huh?

 

Portobellos are among one of the few natural food source that contains selenium.  Selenium is an essential trace mineral needed for your body’s cognitive function, immune system, and is related to the fertility of both men and women. And because mushrooms contain 26% protein, it’s an excellent inclusion in vegetarian diets.

 

Studies have shown that selenium helps maintain your body’s thyroid levels and the male reproductive system. In a study that included 690 infertile men, there was a 52.6% increase in sperm motility in those that took selenium.

 

1 medium Portobello Mushroom– 18 g:

  • Calories: 4
  • Total Fat: 0.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 0.6 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Potassium: 57 mg
  • Sugar: 0.4 g
  • Sodium: 1 mg

 

Loaded Guacamole Vegetarian Taco Recipe

loaded-guacamole-vegetarian-tacos-4-062214

Soup Addict has this healthy taco recipe posted on their site.

 

One of the primary benefits of eating black beans is to improve your cardiovascular health. Black beans are very high in both protein and soluble fiber, the latter of which (unlike lean ground beef) has been proven to lower blood cholesterol.

 

A study done at Harvard that included 40,000 males showed a 40% lowered risk of heart disease in those participants that had a higher fiber intake. Insoluble fiber adds mass to foods consumed and assists in passing digested foods more quickly through the digestive system.

 

Soluble fiber, found in black beans, attracts water which is turned into a gel during digestion.  This new gel that is formed, helps prevent stokes and heart attacks through the process of a reduced thickening of your artery walls when absorbed by the intestines.

 

Black beans also contain a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3’s help balance out the negative effects of the “bad” LDL (artery clogging) cholesterol.  This is done through improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure, which in turns puts far less strain on the entire cardiovascular system.

 

Black Beans – 1 cup:

  • Calories: 624
  • Total Fat: 1.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.4 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 39 g
  • Fiber: 29 g
  • Potassium: 2760 mg
  • Sugar: 3.9 g
  • Sodium: 17 mg

 

Quinoa Black Bean Taco Recipe

quinoa bb

Damn Delicious has some damn delicious healthy taco recipes.

 

Most people ask me what is quinoa? Quinoa is more of a seed than a grain (though often referred to as a whole grain), quinoa has been regarded as a “superfood“. Quinoa has many health benefits and is extremely high in nutrients.  It’s non-GMO, gluten free, and typically grown organically.

 

In addition to the nutritional chart provided below, here are the most praised vitamins and minerals that you can expect to find in one cup of cooked quinoa:

 

  • Manganese: 58% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA.
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA.
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA.
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
  • Over 10% of the RDA for Vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
  • Small amounts of Calcium, B3 (Niacin) and Vitamin E.

 

The highest percentage among them include manganese with 58%. Manganese is an essential trace mineral that is vitally important for normal brain function and for healthy activity throughout your body of the nervous system.

 

Additionally, manganese is needed to maintain healthy bone structure and bone metabolism, not to mention the creation of the enzymes that are essential to building strong bones.

 

Connective tissue formation, calcium absorption, and a proper functioning thyroid are all equated to the amount of manganese your body is getting. It is recommended that you receive 5mg per day of manganese.

 

Low levels of manganese in the body can contribute to:

 

  • infertility
  • bone malformation
  • weakness
  • seizures

 

It is fairly easy to get enough manganese in your diet. You can get manganese by eating whole grains, nuts, and seeds.   It is estimated that as many as 37% of Americans do not get the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of manganese in their diet.

 

During my research, I found a fun fact to share with you.  There has been talk of growing quinoa in outer space by NASA scientists. They have acknowledged it’s easy to grow, cook, and has an extremely high nutrient content.

 

Cooked Quinoa – 1 cup:

  • Calories: 222
  • Total Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Potassium: 0 mg
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 13 mg

 

Note: Consuming more than 11 mg per day of manganese could cause serious and harmful side effects. Be sure to do your research. 

 

Huevos Rancheros Taco Recipe

Huevos-Tacos

The next healthy taco recipe can be found on Diethood.

 

Similarly to quinoa, red kidney beans are a true superfood. Red kidney beans fall into a category of vegetables called legumes.  Legumes include beans, peas and lentils which are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium.

 

Red kidney beans are packed with:

 

  • protein
  • vitamin B9
  • soluble and insoluble fibers
  • potassium
  • and other vitamins and nutrients

 

Red kidney beans protect your heart against heart disease. One study that covered seven countries totaled 12,763 middle-aged men and concluded that those with a higher consumption of legumes, like red kidney beans, reduced their risk of heart attacks by more than 80%.

 

Studies have also shown that higher intake of legumes was associated with a decreased risk of several cancers. I was surprised at how many cancers red beans helped reduce the risk. 

 

Red kidney beans also contain vitamin B9 (also known as folate) and fiber to help promote cardiovascular health.  The recommended daily amount of B9 is 200 mcg/day. One cup of cooked red kidney beans provides a third of the recommended daily intake for folate.

 

Red Kidney Beans (cooked) – 1 cup:

  • Calories: 219
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 16 g
  • Fiber: 16 g = 66% of your daily value
  • Potassium: 0 mg
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 16 mg

 

Sweet Potato Tacos with Lime Crema Recipe

Sweet-Potato-Tacos-with-Lime-Crema-above

This taco recipe comes from Budget Bytes.

 

Sweet potatoes are filled with nutrients. These are one of my favorite vegetables to eat! They are considered a whole body vegetable and have also been known to lower stress, boost immunity, and to have anti-inflammatory properties.

 

The primary mineral used for reducing stress levels is magnesium. Sweet potatoes are very high in magnesium. 1 cup of sweet potatoes contains 33mg of magnesium. According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, magnesium is used to promote relaxation, calmness, and positive moods.

 

The anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting benefits associated with eating sweet potatoes is related to the fact that they contain around half the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a role in fighting heart disease, lowering high blood pressure, and helping reduce risks of cancer, including cervical, skin, and breast.

 

Vitamins A and E are also found in sweet potatoes.  These two vitamins are known to boost your immune system and serve as disease fighting antioxidants. In a study among women ages 65 and older, vitamin E supplementation reduced the risk of major cardiac events by 26%.

 

According to the Linus Pauling Institute sweet potatoes are among the best foods to eat. Like I said, they are one of my favorites! Sweet potatoes benefit your overall health and reduce the likelihood of inflammatory disorders all while tasting so good 🙂

 

Sweet Potatoes – 1 cup:

  • Calories: 114
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 2.1 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Potassium: 448 mg
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Sodium: 73 mg

 

Spicy Plantain Black Bean Taco Recipe

Spicy-Plantain-Black-Bean-Tacos-A-30-minute-plantbased-meal-thats-so-delicious-and-satisfying-vegan-glutenfree-tacos-recipe

This healthy taco recipe comes from Dana at Minimalist Baker.  This healthy taco recipe is my favorite one on this list!

 

Plantains are a tropical vegetable that are usually cooked before eating.  They resemble a potato, yam, or sweet potato but somehow remind me of a banana too. Plantains are a primary source of carbohydrates. Without carbohydrates, your body will not have the fuel it requires to support your daily mental and physical activities.

 

One of the most widely known benefits of eating plantains is that they are a high source of fiber. In fact, 1 cup of cooked plantains make up for 3.5 grams of your daily intake of fiber. Recent studies have shown plantain fibers could treat Crohn’s disease too.

 

Fiber not only helps to lower your LDL cholesterol (which is closely associated with stoke and heart disease), but it’s a primary factor in promoting healthy digestion, preventing constipation, diverticular disease, and fighting cancer.

 

NPR posted a study on fiber in February of 2016. It stated,  for the women on the high-fiber diet in one study, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer was cut by 16%. The researchers found that women who consumed high levels of fiber (28 grams per day, on average) had a 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer before menopause, compared with women who ate low levels of fiber (14 grams per day, on average).

 

Generally, women need to reach an intake of between 21 and 25 grams of fiber per day, whereas men should try and hit between 30 and 38 grams. According to an article in Forbes, most people don’t even get half of the recommended daily serving.

 

Forbes also points out that healthy diets high in fiber aid with weight management, digestive health, and can even prevent the progression of diabetes.  Soluble fiber in particular works to slow down sugar absorption, which can help improve blood sugar levels for those who live with diabetes.

 

1 medium Plantain – 179 g:

  • Calories: 218
  • Total Fat: 0.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.3 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 2.3 g
  • Fiber: 4.1 g
  • Potassium: 893 mg
  • Sugar: 27 g
  • Sodium: 7 mg

 

Meatless Ground “Traditional” Taco Recipe

tacos

One of my favorite taco recipes is from, Raised by Wolves.

 

There is a wide variety of meat substitutes out there these days, many of which are soy free, vegan, and super high in protein. Try out a few different brands and see which ones you like best.  Make sure to read labels and make sure to check for anything that could conflict with any dietary restrictions you may have, such as gluten like gluten etc.

 

The Trader Joe’s version of the beef-less ground beef used in this healthy taco recipe does include both wheat and soy protein.  This combination contains an impressive 9 grams of protein per 1/3 cup!

 

A 1995 meta-analysis of 38 controlled clinical trials showed that eating approximately 50 grams of soy protein a day in place of animal protein reduced harmful LDL cholesterol by 12.9%. As a result, if sustained over time, this would have meant a 20% reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other forms of cardiovascular disease by eating more soy.

 

Soy proteins can be used in your diet to replace animal proteins. Like many other legumes, soybeans are very low in saturated fat and contain zero cholesterol.

 

Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef – 1/3 cup: 

  • Calories: 60
  • Total Fat: 1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Monosaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Potassium: 300 mg
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Sodium: 300 mg

 

Conclusion

I hope you have a few awesome ideas for your next Taco Tuesday affair! It is well known in any culture, any language, and region, that YOU are what you eat. I spent a lot of time on this article to share with you the health benefits to switching up your Tuesday’s a little bit by making healthy tacos using these recipes.

 

Change is always hard and it’s definitely easier to just do things the way you’ve always done them, like making tacos with ground beef. I’d bet that your body will thank you for making the added effort to try things a little healthier.

 

Have a meatless taco recipe of your own that you’d love to share with us? Add a link in the comments below or simply share your favorite kinds of taco Tuesday traditions. Also, let us know what your thoughts are below!

 

If you would like to download the following recipes, click the button below.

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