Smartest tacos & burritos: cut calories, gain nutrients, and boost health!
Updated: Feb 4
Everyone has different dietary preferences. Always create a lifestyle that suits your needs and individual tastes when trying to optimize your health goals. Whether you want to lose weight or simply eat healthier you don't necessarily have to give up meat but simply cut down to achieve better health. Regular consumption of red meat, processed red meat in particular, is associated with heart disease (1,2,3), diabetes (2), development of some cancers (1,4) and other health issues. Also, consumption of fast food is associated with a higher risk of obesity so try to make things you enjoy at home to save money and boost your health (5). Another major issue is that most Americans consume only half the recommended levels of fiber per day (6). Here, I will demonstrate an easy recipe that addresses 1) cutting down on red meat, 2) reducing your fast food intake, and 3) getting enough fiber. The burrito shown below has 17 grams of fiber which is more than half the adult requirements for a high fiber diet! This is a fast and easy recipe for people on the go. If you're looking for something complicated stop reading this.
CONCEPT: "You don't have to stop eating meat if you don't want to. Simply cut down by adding beneficial ingredients such as beans and veggies" -Dr. Damien Hansra MD
Base mixture (Makes about 10-15 tacos/burritos/bowls):
1. Pinto beans or red beans (1 can/15 oz.)
2. Ground beef or ground chicken* or turkey (2 pack/2 lbs.)
3. Black bean & corn salsa Newman’s own or Desert Pepper Trading Company (1 can/16 oz.)
4. Olive oil (1 tablespoon)
5. Sea salt (1 teaspoon)
*My preference is chicken as it has same protein, far less fat, half the calories!
6. Tomatoes (1 large or canned diced, seen above)
7. Lettuce (1 bag prechopped, seen above)
8. Mexican cheese blend (1 bag, seen above)
9. Fire roasted corn (1 can or container, seen above)
10. Taco shells (use cauliflower corn tacos, cauliflower is the first ingredient!)
11. Use lettuce as a taco shell (seen above, lowest calories and fresh taste)
12. Make a burrito with high fiber tortilla wraps (70 calories, 15 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein!)
1. Blend beans and corn salsa in a food processor until a smooth texture achieved
2. Put olive oil in a pan on high heat
3. Pan fry chicken, turkey or beef 7-10 minutes
4. Add bean mixture, salt, then mix until even
5. Let mixture cool down a bit before serving
6. Add toppings as desired to your burrito, taco, or lettuce wrap
7. Keep the rest refrigerated for later
What's the bottom line?
Decreasing red meat intake can lower your risk for heart attack, diabetes, some cancers, and other health issues (1-4). Drastically changing your diet to eliminate red meat (or any of your favorite foods) is unrealistic. Our beef-bean-salsa mixture makes it possible to still enjoy red meat on occasion while significantly enhancing the nutritional content and decreasing calories. This is a major concept of Smart and Easy Health: adding beneficial ingredients into your favorite foods to boost the nutrient value and decrease calories to not only lose weight but benefit your overall health. These beneficial ingredients are also known as "functional foods".
If you are feeling adventurous then try chicken or turkey instead of beef as these are much healthier than red meat with less calories, fat, and have the same protein content as beef (7-9). My preference is chicken as it has same protein, far less fat, half the calories! I feed the chicken mixture to my kids and they love it.
Rather than flavor the meat mixture with seasoning (as in a traditional taco or burrito) we added a vegetable based salsa and beans. Beans can lower your risk of heart disease (10-12), high blood pressure (10-12), stroke (10-12), diabetes (10-12), weight gain (12), and cholesterol (12,13). Beans are also a rich source of Fiber, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus (12).
CONCEPT: "Swap white meat for red meat and / or add blended beans and vegetables to cut calories and boost health benefits" - Dr. Damien Hansra MD
High fiber burrito: calories = 250 (beef) / 180 (chicken), 29 g carbohydrates, 19 g protein, 17 g fiber
Taco: calories = 300 (beef) / 230 (chicken), 28 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 4 g fiber
Lettuce wrap: calories 170 (beef) / 100 (chicken), 10 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 3 g fiber.
This taco & burrito recipe is an example of a larger concept of adding beneficial ingredients into your favorite foods to boost the nutrient value and decrease calories to not only lose weight but also benefit your overall health. Explore other ways to do this and other possible ways to improve your health without radically changing your diet and lifestyle.
To learn more visit:
1) Wang X, Lin X, Ouyang YY, Liu J, Zhoa G, Pan A, Hu FB. Red and processed meat consumption and mortality: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Public Health Nutr. 2016 Apr;19(5):893-905.
2) Renata Micha, Georgios Michas, Dariush Mozaffarian. Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes - An Updated Review of Evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2012 Dec: 14(6):515-524.
3) Ashaye A, Gaziano J, Djousse L. Red meat consumption and risk of heart failure in male physicians. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Dec: 21(12): 941-946.
4) Cross AJ, Leitzmann MF, Gail MH, Hollenbeck AR, Schatzkin, and Sinha R. A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk. Plos Med. 2007 Dec; 4(12): e325.
5. Garcia G, Sunil TS, Hinojosa P. The fast food and obesity link: consumption patterns and severity of obesity. Obes Surg. 2012 May;22(5):810-8. doi: 10.1007/s11695-012-0601-8.
6. Akbar A, Shreenath AP. High Fiber Diet. [Updated 2020 Jul 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559033/ Accessed Jan 21, 2021.
7. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, Leitzmann MF, Schatzkin A. Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):562-571.
8. Becerra-Tomás N, Babio N, Martínez-González MÁ, Corella D, Estruch R, Ros E, Fitó M, Serra-Majem L, Salaverria I, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Lapetra J, Gómez-Gracia E, Fiol M, Toledo E, Sorlí JV, Pedret-Llaberia MR, Salas-Salvadó J. Replacing red meat and processed red meat for white meat, fish, legumes or eggs is associated with lower risk of incidence of metabolic syndrome. Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;35(6):1442-1449.
9. Kim SR, Kim K, Lee SA, Kwon SO, Lee JK, Keum N, Park SM. Effect of Red, Processed, and White Meat Consumption on the Risk of Gastric Cancer: An Overall and Dose⁻Response Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 11;11(4):826.
10. Hu FB. Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:5445–5515.
11. Orlich MJ, Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets in the Adventist Health Study 2: a review of initial published findings. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100(Suppl. 1):353S–358S.
12. Polak R, Phillips EM, Campbell A. Legumes: Health BEnefit and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Clin Diabetes. 2015 Oct;33(4):198-205.
13. Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, Nguyen CH, Winham DM. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Feb; 21(2):94-103.
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