The tacos we all know and love can come in a few formats. But typically, tacos are soft or crispy and/or packaged in corn or flour tortillas. But sometimes, after spending the afternoon grazing on baskets upon baskets of chips and salsa, I do not need any more empty carbohydrates. A refreshing alternative is housing your tacos in lettuce wraps. Using lettuce as your ‘taco shell’ eliminates extra calories and carbohydrates and has the potential to provide you with extra vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, cutting up some lettuce is a lot more preferable to heating up tortillas when the summer days get hot!
I use romaine hearts as my go-to because romaine has a mild flavor and is chock full of iron, calcium, vitamins C, B, K and A and is the perfect shape to house the taco stuffing. But you could also use butter lettuce, traditional iceberg or leafy romaine. For this particular taco stuffing, I use lean ground turkey and rinsed black beans as the base. I always aim for lean proteins, typically combining animal and non-animal foods (i.e. beans) in order to feel completely satiated, but you could always do one or the other. This dish is totally versatile and can be made with all different types of protein: ground turkey, ground sirloin, shredded chicken breast, chickpeas, pinto beans, tofu, etc. You decide what proteins you would like as your ‘taco base’ and essentially go from there!
I never cook with prepackaged seasoning because it’s always loaded with sodium. So, even though most taco meat is made with taco seasoning, the only spices I use are black pepper, garlic powder and cumin. For some, this might be a little bland, but by the time you add in all the delicious vegetables I don’t think it needs anything else. Since the base of this recipe is a protein, my next goal is to load in as many different colored vegetables as I can. Therefore, the taco meat is cooked with red onions, red pepper, orange pepper, and yellow corn.
The last bit is your garnish. You could always buy and use store-bought salsa or pico de gallo, but I prefer to make my own. Just chop up a red, round tomato, some white onion and cilantro and you have your very own delicious salsa fresca! I personally don’t eat much dairy, so sour cream and cheese are out; however, some creamy, plain Greek yogurt would be delicious on top. Additionally, some fresh avocado is a must! Truly, it’s up to you how you want to dress up your taco lettuce wrap. But don’t go overboard slathering on high calorie or high fat food items that will undo the healthy nature of this meal!
1 package organic romaine hearts
½ lb lean ground turkey
½ can rinsed organic black beans
black pepper, garlic powder and cumin to taste
4 c chopped red onion
¼ c chopped yellow bell pepper
¼ c chopped orange bell pepper
½ c whole kernel yellow corn
1 red, round tomato (large)
½ c chopped white onion
½ c chopped cilantro
Brown turkey in a large skillet. When no longer pink, add dry seasonings. Add black beans, onion, peppers, and corn and cover. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Wash and dry the lettuce. Place taco meat mixture in the center of the leaf and top with salsa fresca. This recipe easily yields enough tacos for a family of four!