Fiesta food might seem an indulgence but it need not be. Tacos can vary as much as any sandwich; the good news is some taco ingredients are VERY good for you.
No one thinks about dieting when they eat tacos. Tacos are tasty.
But tacos can be extremely healthy. Emphasis on “can be” and “healthy,” but not necessarily for the calorie-restricted diet. And the fillings and toppings can make a big difference in all kinds of ways: amount of protein, amount of salt, fiber, etc. But even though party planners favor using taco catering for easy-to-produce events, the nutrition-conscious guests probably know a thing or two about tacos as beneficial sustenance. To wit:
Corn vs. flour tortillas: There is a nutritional difference between these two, with flour tortillas having about 40% more calories than corn. Flour also has about 40% more protein, but less than half the fiber of corn. Both provide calcium (more in flour), iron (also more in flour), magnesium (three times as much in corn) and potassium. Corn is much lower in sodium, at 1/15 the level of flour.
The meat of the matter (or chicken, or tilapia, or grilled tofu… ): The great thing about taco station service – is you usually have a choice of ground beef, steak, seafood (tilapia, shrimp) or vegetarian fillings such as tofu.
Refried vs. whole beans: Unfortunately, this is not an easy category of comparison because refried beans can be prepared in a number of different ways. Some are refried in animal fat, and thus take on a higher concentration of saturated fat calories. Other preparations involve use of olive or canola oil, which is lower in fat and it is monounsaturated (better for you). In some preparations, the beans are simply pureed with no added ingredients. But look at it this way: beans in all forms are great sources of protein and fiber, and both have a low glycemic index, a plus for controlling blood sugar.
Guacamole: Made primarily of avocadoes, this is like the healthy version of butter: a good source of healthier fats (monounsaturated), they also contain fiber, folate, potassium, plus lutein and zeaxanthin, which are possibly contributors to eye health.
Salsas and Pico de Gallo: Primarily made of tomatoes, onions, cilantro (coriander leaves) and other fresh ingredients, you might think of this common taco topping (which might take up a third of the ingredients) as a salad. Rich in vitamins A, C, K, folate and choline, plus minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese) and dietary fiber.
And what about the margarita bar? Make no mistake there are calories in the alcohol and the sweet mixer. If there’s real fruit juice and a bit of pulp involved, there is a fiber and possibly a micronutrient benefit.