The Secret for Making a Healthy Taco Salad

Did you know that at the typical Mexican restaurant the most dangerous item on the menu is the taco salad? In fact, the Qdoba Mexican Grill’s Beef Taco Salad has 1,280 calories! You can eat almost 9 of Taco Bell’s Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Tacos for the same calories!

A taco salad has the potential to be healthy, but many restaurants squander that opportunity by using fattening beef, full-fat sour cream and large amounts of cheddar cheese.

For this edition of “Weight Loss Wednesday,” I’m going to show the secret for making a  healthy taco salad and home for a fraction of the fat and calories that the fast food version contains.

I made my own taco salad at home for a light version that is just as delicious as healthy. Here are a few secret tips for transforming this fattening dish.

“Moo”ve over beef

I used lean ground turkey breast instead of ground beef, which boosts the protein of this dish without adding excess fat. Three ounce of lean turkey breast contains only 88 calories, 1.4 grams of fat and no saturated fat, while the same portion of 80 percent lean ground beef has 231 calories, 14.8 grams of fat and 5.6 grams of saturated fat.

Think outside the shell

For the “shell” I simply used a “Mission Carb Balance Small/Fajita Whole Wheat Tortilla,” which is loaded with fiber and low in calories. Form the “bowl” shape by spraying a glass bowl with nonfat cooking spray and placing the tortilla in the bowl. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes to make crunchy.

Got cheese? 

I omitted the cheese completely. One cup of cheese (which can easily be the amount that some local fast food chains lob onto your meal) has 455 calories, 37 grams of fat and 24 grams of saturated fat. If you must have cheese, use the 2 percent milk variety, which still melts well and has a great flavor, but reduces some of the calories and fat. Don’t bother using the fat-free cheese. The taste and texture is horrible and it’s not worth the reduced calories.

Load up on Veggies

I added pepper strips, salsa and lettuce to load up on vegetables and volume, without adding a lot of calories.

Go Greek!

My biggest secret to slashing the calories, but keeping the flavor of this delicious dish is substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream. Greek yogurt is filled with calcium and beneficial live bacterial cultures and packs a lot of protein for very little calories. Just a few small changes makes a huge difference in the calories and enhances the taste.

Try my recipe for healthy taco salad and check out my book, Culinary Duct Tape: Greek yogurt: Just as versatile, not as tacky, for more dishes made light and delicious with Greek yogurt!

Stacy’s Healthy Taco Salad


  • 4 Mission Carb Balance Small/Fajita Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red, yellow and orange pepper strips
  • 1 can reduced sodium black beans
  • 1 jar Pace Picante Sauce
  • 1 small bag of lettuce shreds
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt


  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high  heat and sauté garlic until brown. Add peppers and sauté until cooked through.
  2. Add ground turkey and brown until no longer pink.
  3. Add black beans, ½ jar picante sauce and ¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt. Stir until combined and heat through.
  4. Meanwhile, spray four glass bowls with nonfat cooking spray. Place one whole-wheat tortialla in each bowl and cook at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  5. Scoop turkey mixture into cooled shell. Top with a generous handful of lettuce shreds, picante sauce and the remaining Greek yogurt.


Simple, easy, healthy and delish! Give it a try and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if you try any of the other recipes from my book,  Culinary Duct Tape: Greek yogurt: Just as versatile, not as tacky.