Homemade Taco Salad

Serious question….who in this world DOESN’T want to face-plant into a taco salad on a regular basis? I mean, real talk.

Mexican food is by far, one of my favorite food genres of all time. I cook taco’s for dinner, for Kieran and myself, at least once a week. I’m obsessed with avocado..I’m craving it as we speak. Of course, looking at my photo above I can only imagine you’re asking yourself, “Where the hell IS the avocado? And cheese? And sour cream? And everything else that makes taco’s delicious?” Excellent question. Allow me to explain…

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been calorie counting for the first time in my life. See, I’m a shorty, standing 5’2 ft tall, weighing in at 180 lbs. So, I’m a plumper and frankly, I’m sick of it. I never really dieted before, I just exercised a lot. However, even though I’m regularly active I’m still gaining weight. Frankly, I know my #1 problem with weight gain is alcohol. I drink… a lot. And we all know drinking = empty calories. True confession time – quitting drinking is not an option for me. I enjoy drinking way too much, it’s tastes too damn good. BUT, I need to face reality, if I want to lose weight, I had better start tracking everything I’m putting in my mouth, booze included. I downloaded an app called “Lose It!” and have been tracking my 1.5k daily calorie allowance ever since. My new motto is…if I bite it, I write it. Note, “Lose It!” is NOT paying me to promote them.

Tracking calories is kind of a bitch, but becoming easier every day. Plus, it’s REALLY teaching me the value of calories in the food I’m eating. The old me use to snack on peanuts or tortilla chips while cooking, because I’m normally hungry when I begin to cook. Once I saw how many calories I was consuming during these, thought to be harmless “snack sessions”, I quickly changed my ways.

Homemade Taco Salad

After I saw how many calories my snacks were, I quickly stopped eating them or swapped them out with different foods to get the biggest bang for my buck. For example, I used to eat 1 Kind Bar per day. Kind Bar’s are more “all natural-ish” type of protein bars with nuts, fruit, and sometimes chocolate. However, after counting calories, I decided my Kind Bar (200 calories) should to be swapped out with 1 cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese (180 calories). The portion size was bigger for cottage cheese and packed with more protein. I found I can either have 1 Kind Bar for my morning snack, and be ravenously hungry for lunch, OR eat a cup of cottage cheese with less calories, and more protein, which helps keeps me completely satisfied until lunch.

taco salad recipe

Now I’m THRILLED to report I haven’t had to stop drinking while calorie counting! In fact, I’ve done a damn good job factoring in those calories so I’m able to enjoy some drinks without going over my calorie allowance for the day! If I’m almost out of calories, Kieran and I will go play tennis, so I’m able to enjoy a few drinks. #firstworldproblems

Actually, it’s easy to enjoy the foods I like with the app, so even though I’m defiantly eating less, I don’t feel like I’m dieting. We went to a party a couple weekends ago, and I knew the host was going to serve root beer floats. I haven’t had root beer floats in AGES and really wanted one. So the morning of the party, I added the calories of 1 root beer float and planned the rest of my meals around those calories. The app kept me accountable during the party too, I knew I had to track whatever I ate so I refrained from over snacking, otherwise I would have parked my ass in front of guacamole and munched throughout the entire party.

The hardest part about counting calories is eating out. I have NO idea how many calories are in certain items because the majority of restaurants don’t post nutritional information. The app has a search for food option, but it’s not perfect. For example, if I want to eat a burger, and I search for burgers on the app, the app lists burger options from McDonalds or Wendy’s, the app never has the nutritional information of the restaurant I’m eating in. So, I don’t think I’m counting calories perfectly when I eat out, but at least it’s better than nothing.

So, going forward, I plan on counting calories until I reach my goal weight, and according to the app, it will take me until April 2016 to reach my goal. I’ll still posting all kinds of food on this blog, but you may see a switch to healthier foods (we’ll see, I still need bacon and cookie dough in my life). When I share a recipe on the blog I’ll be sure to include the calories incase other people track calorie consumption too.


Now let’s get fucking serious about this amazballs homemade taco salad, shall we?

Holy crap are these homemade taco salads AHmazing. The ingredients are simple, no fuss, nothing fancy, yet still taste phenomenal put together. And of COURSE you can add cheese, avocado, sour cream, ect. Add whatever ingredient you like best in taco salad. You can swap out the taco seasonings I came up with for your favorite store bought brand, or use a different type of meat. If you’re not a fan of baby spinach, use iceberg, or your favorite kind of lettuce instead. The variations on this meal are endless, the end result will still be fantastic.

The best part about this salad is you don’t have to deep fry the taco shells, you can just bake them! YAAAAAAHOOOOOOO!!! Hallelujah for less calories which equals more food you get to eat! Boo-Yeah!

Making the taco shells take approx 16-20 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oven. The taco shells are extremely easy to make, but you have to have oven safe bowls or ramekins. I used fajita sized tortillas for my dinner, but you can use different sizes, as long as you have small or big enough oven safe bowls to shape them with. Caution, as you can imagine the bowls/ramekins will be HOT so be careful and use oven mitts when handling the bowls after they come out of the oven.

Making the taco shells put a fun spin on regular taco night. The crunch from the baked tortilla coupled with the other ingredients is addictive and satisfying. It’s like comfort food that’s not horrendous for you. Yeah, you use flour tortillas instead of corn but who cares?! Everything else in the taco salad is good for you (unless of course you add a butt ton of cheese and sour cream). So go ahead and indulge in this taco salad, you’ll kill the craving without all the guilt!

Both Kieran and I tremendously enjoyed this dinner and look forward to making it time and time again!

Homemade Taco Salad Ideas

Homemade Taco Salad

Shock Munch
This recipe yields 4 taco salads. Kieran and I ate 2 each.


Taco Seasonings:

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon blackened cajun seasoning
  • A big pinch of red pepper
  • 15 cracks of fresh pepper
  • Another pinch of salt (my cajun seasoning has salt, so I didn't use a ton of extra salt)

The Taco Salad:

  • 4 flour tortillas (I used fajita size)
  • 2 cups cubed chicken (apporx 1 large chicken skinless, boneless, breast)
  • 2 cups black beans (not quite one can of beans)
  • ½ a red pepper, cut into strips
  • ¼ cup white onion, diced
  • 20 cherry tomatos, halved
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • Cilantro
  • Your favorite hot sauces


Cooking the chicken and tortillas:

  • Preheat your oven to 300-350 degrees
  • Mix together the taco seasonings in a small dish until well combined.
  • Put the chicken on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Spritz both sides of the chicken with a calorie free cooking spray. Rub the taco seasonings over both sides of the chicken. Set aside until your tortillas are prepped.
  • Spray the outside of 4 oven-safe ramekins with cooking spray, then put them face down on another baking sheet. Place 1 tortilla over each ramekin. Gently press, crimp, and fold the edges of the tortilla around the ramekins to form your taco shell.
  • Optional: If you have more oven safe bowls, spray the insides of the bowls with more cooking spray, and place them over each tortilla. This will help keep the edges of the tortillas down for a better "taco shell" shape.
  • Put the chicken and the tortillas in the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, take the tortillas out of the oven. If you're using the top bowls, carefully take them off and place on a cutting board or cloth (they will be screaming hot). Gently take each tortilla off the ramekins, flip them over, and place them back on the baking sheet. Put the tortillas back in the oven for another 8-10 minutes or until the tortilla is as crispy as you like it.
  • About this time 18-20 minutes have passed. Check on the chicken, it should be done, or really close to done. Once the chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees, you're done. Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes before you slice or cube it.
  • When you first put your chicken/tortilla in the oven, heat a small pot over medium heat. Once it's hot, add your red pepper, no oil is needed, and cook until the red pepper is soft and black in spots. Once finished, spoon the red pepper out onto a plate. Set aside.
  • Now add the black beans to the same pot you cooked the red pepper in. Stir and cook until the beans are nice and hot. If the beans cook quicker than the chicken and tortillas, turn the heat down to the lowest setting.
  • Time to assemble!
  • Put two tortillas on a plate. Fill each taco shell with ½ cup of spinach. Top the spinach with ¼ cup black beans, a little onion, some cherry tomatoes, ½ cup of chicken, and some red pepper.
  • Top each shell with some cilantro and your favorite hot sauce!
  • Either pick up the shell and eat it with your hands, or dig into that puppy with a fork and knife.


You’ll notice I said preheat your oven to 300-350 degrees. I say that because your oven-safe bowls/ramekins may only go up to 300, and not 350. If the bowls/ramekins are oven-safe in 350 degrees, use the cooking times mentioned in the recipe.
If your oven safe bowls/ramekins are only equipped to handle 300 degrees, you’ll probably have to cook everything 5-20 minutes longer. FYI

Calorie breakdown…

This recipe renders 4 little taco salads, so each assembled taco shell got 1/4 of all the ingredients listed.
4 flour tortillas… 440
2 cups cubed chicken… 462
2 cups baby spinach… 20
2 cups black beans… 220
1/4 cup white onion… 17
20 cherry tomatoes… 60
1/2 large red pepper… 22
Cilantro… 0

Total for all 4 taco shells… 1,241

Total for 2 taco shells which is the amount of food I ate and had to track… 620.50

If you only want to eat 1 taco shell… 310.25

Note…I’m NOT a professional nutritionist, nor am I trying to pretend to be. The numbers I’m using were either calculated from the food’s nutrition label, the Lose It! app, or found on Google.

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