Cutting down on carbs can be made fun and easy! This Healthy Taco Salad Recipe with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing is made with whole ingredients and is so flavorful. Make it ahead of time and enjoy throughout the week!
Cutting down on carbs is never a fun process. Believe me, I know. Especially if you’re just starting out. But, believe it or not, adding more fiber and protein into your diet doesn’t have to mean you’ll be eating just plain chicken and lettuce for the rest of your life.
I’m all about the thinking that food should be enjoyed. That’s why I always try to modify my favorite recipes and prepare them with whole ingredients so I can enjoy them as part of a clean eating lifestyle.
Salads can be a great healthy option for you, without a doubt. But, let’s be honest, you can easily start packing on unhealthy ingredients (i.e. processed salad dressings) or tons of ingredients that turn a healthy salad into a crazy high fat and calorie bowl.
Luckily, salads can be so much more than what you might be used to.
So, I decided to make an even healthier, but equally delicious version of a Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing. Because tacos and salads need to be enjoyed — it’s a rule.
And you know what’s the best thing about this mason jar salad? Everything! If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself!
WHAT GOES IN A TACO SALAD?
Oh, the possibilities! I like variety so I always seem to pop in something new each time I make my Healthy Taco Salad, but recently I’ve been sticking to this recipe. I find the texture is just right and the different flavors compliment each other nicely. The Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing adds a bit of freshness to it and just makes everything taste even better.
Let’s discuss the deliciousness, all packed into a mason jar:
- grape tomatoes
- taco meat
- shredded jack cheese
- mixed baby greens
- creamy cilantro lime dressing
Very simple, and oh-so-delicioso.
IS TACO SALAD GOOD FOR YOU?
If you’re trying to eat clean and healthy, going for a taco salad instead of tacos is definitely a good choice. Not that tacos cannot be made healthy (see these chicken tacos, spicy shrimp tacos, and barbacoa tacos for more on this), but a salad is a salad, after all.
This Healthy Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing is a balanced combination of healthy fats and proteins, like the lean ground beef and avocado, plus a lot of fresh veggies, making it a great salad that’s good for you and your tastebuds. This healthy taco salad will make sure you stay full for hours, making it a great lunch or dinner.
HOW TO MAKE A TACO SALAD
First things first, you have to prepare the taco meat. For this recipe we’ll be using lean ground beef so just follow these easy steps:
- heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet
- add diced yellow onions, minced garlic, lean ground beef and seasonings
- cook until the onion is tender and the meat well-browned, stirring frequently.
- once cooked, remove from the heat and allow the meat to cool.
While the meat is cooling, prepare your Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing by mixing all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Then, you’re ready to assemble your Healthy Taco Salad! I love adding this salad to a mason jar so it stores well int he fridge all week, but it can also be made in a bowl and tossed.
CAN I MAKE A TACO SALAD AHEAD OF TIME?
This Healthy Taco Salad is a great addition to your meal prep as it can be made ahead of time. Woot! The only thing you need to pay attention to is that you store it properly in the fridge. I use a 1 quart mason jar to make sure the salad stores well in the fridge.
You place the salad dressing on the bottom of the jar and the greens at the top of the jar, which makes it so your greens stay fresh (read: not soggy or wilted at all) all the way up until you eat them. Stacking all the ingredients in a certain order (dressing, hard vegetables, proteins, softer vegetables, cheeses, greens) make it so you can preserve the freshness of each of the ingredients until it’s time to pour it all out into a bowl and enjoy.
And, yes, you totally pour it out into a large bowl or plate to enjoy when you’re ready to get all the goods all mixed up and coated with the dressing – it WOULD be silly to eat out of the jar, I agree!
Later, you can just grab the mason jar with the salad from the fridge and there you go, lunch is served! It doesn’t get easier than that.
HOW LONG DOES A TACO SALAD LAST?
This had always been one of my favorite questions. Why? Because I love the answer! If stacked properly, a taco salad can last up to 5 days in the fridge. Yes, 5 days! Amazing, right?
If you’re making your taco salad ahead, make sure you stack the salad correctly. Start with the dressing on the bottom, followed by harder veggies, protein and then softer veggies, cheese and topped off with greens. Seal it tightly and it’s ready to go into the fridge.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, whole
- 1 cup taco meat, cooled (see recipe above)
- 1/4 cup jack cheese, shredded
- 1 cup mixed baby greens
- 1/2 avocado, diced (optional, when serving)
- 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. cilantro, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
To prepare the taco meat, heat some olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet and then add diced yellow onion, minced garlic, lean ground beef, sea salt, ground black pepper, and ground cumin and stir to combine.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is well-browned and the onion is tender, about 6-8 minutes.
Once cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
To make the creamy cilantro lime dressing, combine plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and sea salt in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.
To assemble the mason jar salad, pour the creamy cilantro lime dressing into the bottom of a 1 quart mason jar, followed the whole grape tomatoes, the cooled taco meat, shredded jack cheese, and mixed baby greens.
When you’re ready to serve, top just shake the contents of the mason jar out onto a bowl and then top with fresh avocado.