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Healthy Chipotle Taco Recipe

January 20, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

A recurrent theme in the Healthy Fellow household is a lively debate about whether people are capable of real change. Can a long time liar one day decide to walk the path of truth? Is a habitual criminal at the age of 17 destined to break laws throughout the entirety of his life? Similar questions can be applied to health issues as well. Will chain smokers ever stop their self-destructive habit? How about “rageoholics” or morbidly obese individuals? My general position is that profound change is available to us all. It certainly doesn’t always happen and there are probably countless reasons why. But every morning when I look in the mirror, I see the reflection of someone who’s radically different than he was a year ago. When I look at my wife, I see a beautiful woman who has transformed her life in the past and continues to do so by addressing her own set of challenges. These are but a few of the reasons why I’m convinced that change is indeed possible and that hope is not wasted on believing so.

There’s change with a capital “C” and change with a small case “c”. Major “Changes” such as adopting a healthier lifestyle or a more positive philosophy are often helped along by incorporating many small case changes. One of the most instrumental shifts in my own quest for improved mental and physical health has involved expanding my palate. I knew that if I was to succeed at losing weight and reducing my self-imposed risk of disease, I’d have to replace my love for junk foods with something else. I accomplished this primarily by substituting starchy and sugary foods with menu items that were rich in unprocessed fat and intensely robust in flavor. Delicacies that I used to avoid such as exotic cheeses, fermented foods (olives and pickled vegetables), spicy seasonings and unconventional meats slowly became a regular part of my diet and remain so to this day.

Two concepts have also been of paramount importance in my transformation and in the current strides that Mrs. Healthy Fellow is making: be creative and be prepared. Preparing ahead goes a long way towards helping you to “stick to your guns” while at home, in the office or on the road. But it’s creativity that can save you from becoming too rigid and losing your passion along the way. Creativity allows you to be more flexible within the confines of your program which will ultimately help keep your wellness routine interesting. This is another way of saying that boredom is a recipe for disaster.

One the best ways to foster a creative diet that emphasizes good planning skills is by learning how to prepare simple, nutrient dense meals and snacks. That’s what we attempt to do in our home. The following is an example of a new recipe that we came up with in our test kitchen. It can be served as a hearty appetizer, a main course or even a savory snack.

Chipotle Bison “Tacos”

Ingredients

Shell - 1-2 small heads of Belgian endive (or larger endive for larger tacos)

Filling - 1 lb of ground bison; 1 small organic onion; NutraSalt or sea salt and black pepper to taste

Toppings - 1 medium avocado; a few basil leaves; several leaves of chives; a liberal squeeze of lemon; a dash of half-and-half; sea salt and pepper to taste and spicy chipotle salsa

Directions

“Taco” Shell: Chop off the base of the endives and separate the leaves. Wash thoroughly and then pat dry with paper towels.

Filling: Finely chop the onion. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and bit of butter to a pan over low-medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add onions and saute for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the ground bison meat to the sauteed onions. Continue cooking and stirring on a low-medium heat until the meat is fully cooked – about 10 minutes on our stovetop. Be mindful not to let it overcook. Bison is leaner than most ground beef, therefore it’s rather delicate and tends to cook more quickly.

Topping (Avocado Crema): Cube the avocado and place in a blender or food processor along with the herbs that are roughly chopped. Squeeze in some lemon or lime and approximately 3 tablespoons of half-and-half. Sprinkle in some sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Pulse all of the contents until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency – or chunky, if you prefer. Add more half-and-half to thin if necessary.

Assembly: Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of the bison into the endive leaves. Top with the avocado crema and a dollop of spicy chipotle salsa or any other variety of salsa or hot sauce.

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Nutritional Information per Taco (approximate): Calories: 95. Protein: 7 grams. Fat: 7 grams. Fiber: 1 gram. Carbohydrates: 1 gram.
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All of the ingredients in today’s recipe are there because they are nutrient dense and they taste good. Eating foods with one of these characteristics without the other is pointless when striving to achieve a healthy and satisfying new diet plan.

Here are some of the reasons why I chose these particular ingredients:

  • Bison are generally allowed to graze and roam freely and are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. They’re good sources of lean protein, iron, niacin, selenium, Vitamins B6, B12 and zinc. (1,2,3)
  • Endives are loaded with fiber, heart healthy nutrients (folic acid, potassium, Vitamin K)
    and powerful phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids. (4,5,6)
  • The basil, black pepper and chives in the avocado crema have recently been shown to discourage food borne illness, improve circulation and support cognitive (brain) health. (7,8,9)
  • Jalapeno (unsmoked chipotle) and poblano peppers, as found in the salsa, have scientifically documented anti-cancer activity. (10,11,12)

If you can’t wrap your head around the idea of eating bison (buffalo), you can easily replace it with ground beef, chicken, lamb, pork or turkey. I’ve even tried a similar recipe that was made with yak! Vegetarians can use a soy or wheat-based, ground meat alternative as well. In addition, this one plate meal can be as mild or spicy as you’d like. You can adjust the heat by using milder salsas and seasonings. Just know that these bite-sized “tacos” are a perfect canvas on which you can paint according to your own culinary style.

I hope you’ll try this new recipe and that you’ll enjoy it as much we do. If that’s the case, please share the wealth. I encourage you to e-mail it to your family and friends or maybe serve this dish as an hors d’oeuvres at your next dinner party. Better yet, please use today’s column as an inspiration to experiment with your own creative recipes. I’d love to hear about them if you do. Have fun cooking and eating!

Be well!

JP

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8 Comments & Updates to “Healthy Chipotle Taco Recipe”

  1. Nina K. Says:

    Morning JP :-)

    mmmmh looks very delicious. i love shell or how you call it belgian endive (we call it chicory). we love it filled with a salad made of shrimps and fruits, also very very delicious and looks good on a party buffet. thanks for sharing this recipe, will looking for some bison.

    Nina K.

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Nina! :)

    Chicory/endive filled with shrimp sounds delicious too! You can probably serve that as a cold or warm appetizer? Very nice.

    I hope you enjoy the flavor of bison. Experiencing new foods is one of the many pleasures of eating a whole food diet! Fortunately for us all, there is greater access to a larger variety of “exotic” foods than ever before.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Bill Rawls, MD Says:

    These sound delicious! What a creative “shell.” We were in CO over Christmas and had some bison jerky that was out of this world. Here on the NC coast, we make fish tacos about once a week, but will have to branch out and try your bison recipe!

  4. JP Says:

    Thank you, Bill! :)

    I sort of wish I used a larger endive for the recipe. But by the time I figured that out, I had already snapped the photo! I’m a big guy, with a big appetite. Why did I think a smaller endive shell would be best?! ;) Actually I was anticipating that these could be used a appetizers/finger foods, I suppose.

    We love fish tacos! In fact, I was thinking of doing a variation of this recipe that focuses on fish. If you happen to see this reply, could you please tell me what type of fish you typically use in your tacos?

    Bison jerky. I’ll have to keep an eye for that. Sounds delicious! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Bill Rawls, MD Says:

    Mahi Mahi is the best! Spicy shrimp also makes great tacos. Look for a mild white fish, as something like tuna or salmon would definitely be overpowering.

    Make sure you don’t forget the avocado and lime :) I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  6. JP Says:

    Thanks, Bill! :)

    Forget the avocado and lime?! Never! ;)

    I’ll try to come up with an interesting fish taco creation. In other words, I’ll be consulting with my wife about this recipe. Ha! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Dr. Josh Axe Says:

    This recipe looks great! Can’t wait to try it.

  8. JP Says:

    Thank you, Josh! :)

    I just noticed that you have some delicious looking recipes on your site as well.

    I think I’ll try your buffalo chili recipe soon!

    Be well!

    JP

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