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Is There Such A Thing As A Healthy Taco?
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We think of the foods we love as an indulgence - and many are! But tacos are in that sweet spot, where what tastes good can be good for you too.
An unfortunate belief pervades our culture and perceptions of cuisine. It is, simply, that everything we like to eat is bad for us. By deduction it also suggests a corollary, that everything good for us is gastronomically dissatisfying.
This would mean, of course, that tacos are bad for us. And indeed, there are ways to make tacos where the good outweighs the bad. Think about certain menu items sold in fast food franchises, where a preponderance of meat and cheese unaccompanied by anything resembling a plant-based food can add 900 calories to your day with nary a grain of fiber and few micronutrients.
But not all tacos are sold en masse from mass-marketed, bricks-and-mortar faux mission-style stores. Quite to the contrary, mobile taco catering has unleashed a whole new world of arguably tastier and certifiably healthier fare. In urban areas, these caterers have virtually dominated the market by rolling up their street carts to private parties, fundraisers and corporate events. Even wedding taco catering has caught on.
If you're lucky, you've been to a party or meeting where a kitchen-on-wheels food cart made tacos to order for every diner. There, you had your choice of ingredients that the taco catering company offered, which probably included ground beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, cheese, beans (whole or refried) or tofu, plus a slew of additional ingredients and toppings that are largely nutritious. To help you in your selection process, it's wise to consider the following:
Macronutrients - Protein, carbohydrates and fat are essential to every human, and the magic of tacos, as with soups and sandwiches, is that all three are present in a standard taco. The proportions of these things matter, as the Mayo Clinic recommends that the average adult get between 45 and 65 percent of daily calories from carbs, 10 to 35 percent from protein, and 20 to 35 percent from fat.
Micronutrients - These are the plethora of dietary components that include vitamins and minerals found in trace amounts, usually, but which fuel essential activities and needs of the body. Sources include wheat (flour tortillas), beans, all fruits and vegetables (especially salsas, which are a mix of tomatoes, onions, garlic and other ingredients), herbs and spices.
Fiber - Most abundantly found in fruits, vegetables and beans, but there is little to no fibre found in animal-based ingredients (meat, fish, chicken, cheese).
Low-fat? - Cheese, beef and pork are usually the most fatty, while refried beans are fattier than whole beans. Avocado as an ingredient is technically high in fat, but it’s the unsaturated fat that is essential and beneficial from a micronutrient standpoint (more than animal-based fat).
With mobile taco catering, you are limited to the ingredients available from the vendor. The professional event planner will typically demand that any taco catering for large groups do a menu review that satisfies vegans as well as omnivores.
Which brings up an important point, that tacos are quite versatile for diverse groups of people. This is a distinct advantage tacos bring to events, particularly when the servers prepare tacos to individual tastes. With so much to choose from, it’s highly unlikely any guest will go hungry. More likely, they will be recharged.
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