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The Taco Bell experience

It's Mexican night at an American household and the typical routine involves making a stop at the fast food place on the way home from work. With a car full of burritos, tacos, and more, how could anyone go wrong? Well, maybe the over five thousand calories sitting in the passenger seat should scare us a bit. But, we can enjoy all these tasty treats in a much healthier way with a little planning in advance and some creativity. If you plan to re-create the Taco Bell experience at home, make healthier choices.

Re-Think Re-fried

If it is fried once, it is probably not very healthy. If it has been fried again, as in re-fried, well, let's just say it goes downhill from there. Refried beans are usually a staple of Mexican dishes, but you can make your meal a little healthier. Change up the nutrition and flavors a bit by using different kinds of beans rather than the re-fried variety.

Black beans make a great substitute, whole or mashed, and will give your Mexican dishes wonderful texture and flavor without being fried even once. If black beans are not quite your cup of tea, you can always use pinto, cannellini, butter, great Northern, kidney, or navy beans. Try them whole or mashed. Either way the idea is you don't need to fry your beans for great flavor. Explore a wide variety of beans and find a combination that your family loves.

Mix Up the Protein

Ground or shredded beef isn't the only choice to have on your tacos and burritos. You can always try turkey or chicken for a lighter healthier dish. Experiment with a variety of meat. This is the perfect time to try some more unusual meats like venison, bison, or ostrich. Not only do these meats offer different flavors, but they are also naturally lower in fat content which makes them a healthier alternative to beef.

And don't forget, you have a whole array of seafood and other non-meat proteins to choose from. Create fish or shrimp tacos using red cabbage, cilantro, and lime. Tofu is another option for a burst of protein without the added fat of meat. A different twist on the same Mexican dishes keeps the whole family guessing and interested. Choosing healthier proteins to avoid the fat and calories is an opportunity to get creative.

Choose Ingredients from Around the World

As with the fish and red cabbage tacos above, adding different ingredients into your menu is an easy way to create interesting, healthier dinners. Tweak the usual Mexican fare with ingredients borrowed from other regions. Sail to the Caribbean with jerk seasoned chicken with pineapple and mango salsa filled tacos or tortillas. Avoid the heavy re-fried beans and beef and replace them with fruit, vegetables, and seafood or poultry and create a whole new world of burritos, tacos, and enchiladas.

It only takes a bit of fresh thinking and planning to create a fun meal for the whole family that is special and healthier. Gather around the table and enjoy some great conversations and special moments as well as a healthy meal. Rather than driving off to buy up a taco stand, and serving the same old unhealthy variety of food, make your own creations right at home and enjoy not only a healthier meal but a unique dining experience.