5 Brilliant Ways to Build a Better Taco

By: Merritt Watts
tofu taco


Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Breaking news in the No-More-Excuses Department: Even tacos can be healthy when you prepare them the right way. Step 1: Try these recipes. Step 2: Never look back.

Yep, you heard that right: tofu. If there's one thing cooks love/lament about this plain-Jane bean curd, it's that it adopts the flavor of whatever it's paired with. And when you pair it with taco seasoning and pan-fry it with a little olive oil, well, you've got yourself the perfect taco filling.

It's okay to give red meat the green light! When nothing but a steak taco will do the trick, a leaner cut of meat, like top sirloin, goes a long way. Sprinkle it with a homemade seasoning rub of garlic, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper -- and don't plan on leftovers.

steak taco


Chilli Rubbed Steak Tacos

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Marshall Troy, 2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sure, a dollop of rich, cooling sour cream never killed anyone, but try blending nonfat yogurt with a bit of mayonnaise for a topping you don't need to feel guilty about. Add a touch of smokiness from chipotle to the alterna-cream and then be sure to give it prime placement at the taco bar when you serve this tilapia goodness.

fish taco

When it comes to serving up tacos with big flavor but not a lot of calories, the secret's in the salsa. A tomato-based one will help sneak in vegetables, but the real appeal is in the flavor. Fresh herbs, lime juice, and a bit of heat from spicy peppers make it an utterly addictive topping for any type of taco, but especially this snapper rendition.

fish tacos with salsa


Bobby Flay's Fish Tacos with Habanero Salsa

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Are you ready to think waaaay outside the taco shell?  Then now, for something totally different: A taco stuffed with savory cilantro-studded ricotta and well-seasoned sautéed spinach. The meatless taco may seem unconventional, but the soft texture of ricotta mirrors that of braised meat and the spinach gets a Mexican twist with a sprinkle of cumin and some spicy green chile peppers.

ricotta taco

Ricotta Spinach Tacos_17.tif

Food Styling: Jamie Kimm Prop Styling: Marina Malchin

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