I was asked by an eblast reader to health-up her favorite taco salad. I was up for the challenge, but first I had to consider for a moment what makes a taco salad unhealthy?
I came to the conclusion that it boils down to composition. Oftentimes, and especially in restaurants, there’s too much of the not so good stuff and not enough of the healthy stuff. What’s interesting (and annoying) about this is that restaurants think that’s what we want. They think we want it loaded with meat, cheese, sour cream and dressing and we could care less about the greens, beans, veggies and tomatoes. I don’t know about you, but I’m just the opposite. I hate ordering a salad where the focus is on the meat and cheese and the veggies are basically just condiments thrown in for good measure. I want a salad that’s piled high with greens and veggies. That other stuff is just fluff.
This easy to make salad is great if you love taco flavor! The base is a huge handful of baby spinach atop a bed of Romaine lettuce. Then it’s piled high with cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, and black beans. I sprinkled the top with fancy shredded cheddar (I only used about a tablespoon) and about 5 sliced olives. Then I topped it with about 5-6 sprouted tortilla chips and drizzled on just enough avocado-Greek-yogurt-lime-cilantro dressing.
You might be wondering what about the meat? Well, that’s not meat, folks. That’s tempeh. I steamed, crumbled, and sauteed tempeh with my favorite Trader Joe’s taco seasoning. Tempeh is fermented soybean and it’s great for your gut health (it’s also pretty yummy if you make it right).
This is how I made your typical taco salad just a little bit healthier:
- added baby spinach
- switched out ground meat for crumbled tempeh
- used less cheese
- used less chips
- used a moderate amount of healthy dressing
“Healthing it up” is pretty simple and something you can easily do yourself with any salad.
Tempeh Taco Salad with Cilantro Avocado Dressing
- 1 package Tempeh
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 big handful baby spinach
- 2 big handfuls Romaine Lettuce
- 1/2 cup roasted corn
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
- 5 black olives sliced
- 5 Tortilla chips crushed
- 1 Tablespoon fancy shredded Cheddar Cheese
For the Dressing:
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- dash water
Steam tempeh in a steamer basket for about 10 minutes until soft. Heat a small saute pan with olive oil. Crumble steamed tempeh with hands into pan. Add taco seasoning and a tablespoon or so of water. Stir until well combined. Set aside in small bowl. To a blender add the avocado, Greek yogurt, lime juice, salt and garlic powder. Blend until well combined and taste for seasoning. Add a little water if too thick. In a salad bowl, add greens, tempeh, and remaining salad ingredients. Top with salad dressing. You will have dressing and tempeh left over for another salad tomorrow!