steak tacos with guacamole and rice pilaf on a white plate
Healthy Eating, Healthy Living

Celebrate National Taco Day!

October 4, 2021

Did you hear?! It’s National Taco Day! And to celebrate this exciting (and delicious) day, we’ll be talking all things tacos. From different types of tacos to tips and tricks for crafting a healthy taco to our favorite taco recipes, get ready for a seriously spicy Snap blog!

A brief history of tacos

While the origins of the taco are unknown, historian and professor Jeffrey M. Pilcher theorizes that tacos date back to the 18th century and the silver mines in Mexico because, in those mines, the word “taco” referred to the little charges they would use to excavate the ore.

Pilcher states the first references to tacos in any archive or dictionary come from the end of the 19th century. And one of the first types of tacos described is called tacos de minero—miner’s tacos.

The first allusion to the taco in US history was in 1905, in a newspaper. This was when Mexican migrants were beginning to immigrate to the US, working the mines, railroads, and other such jobs.

Types of tacos

While the taco is a relatively straightforward dish—tortilla, filling, and perhaps some garnishes or salsa on top—there are myriad of variations to the deceptively simple dish.

Al Pastor

Tacos al pastor loosely translates to “shepherd-style” pork. The meat is marinated in a blend of chilies and spices, then slow-cooked on trompo using an open flame. The spinning mound of pork is usually garnished with a pineapple for a sweet, tangy kick.

Barbacoa

Barbacoa traditionally references the style of cooking meat by the Taino people of the Caribbean. In Mexico, it refers to slow-cooking over an open flame or in a hole dug into the ground until the fatty protein is tender. This is very economical yet flavorful meat and is often served in northern Mexico and south Texas’ Rio Grande Valley on the weekends.

Carne Asada

Carne asada translates to grilled meat, but in this context, it’s referring to ranchera or flap steak from the short loin section of a cow. Carne asada is common in the northern frontier states and is usually marinated in a blend of citrus juices, cumin, and other spices before being grilled. This particular cut of meat is especially thin, making it perfect for eating plain with a simple tortilla, but in taquerias, the Asada is typically chopped into small bits.

Carnitas

Carnita translates literally to little meats, as they’re made with shredded pork shoulder that’s braised or simmered for several hours in its own fat. This tenderizes the meat so that it easily comes apart. The slow cooking brings out a simple pork flavor, and when done right, the shredded meat bits come out slightly crispy on the ends.

Chorizo

While the Spanish did bring chorizo from Spain, Mexican chorizo differs in that Mexican chorizo is sold fresh and uncooked while Spanish chorizo is typically cured and smoked. Mexican chorizo is a blend of minced meat—typically pork (though other meats are also utilized) seasoned with spicy chili peppers. When ready to cook, the ground meat is removed from its casing. The state of Toluca is considered the capital of chorizo and is available in bright red or green.

Pollo & Tinga

Pollo means chicken in Spanish and is usually marinated and grilled and then cut into chunks, while other times, it’s shredded to make tinga.

Read more about the different types of tacos.

How to add a healthy twist

While authentic tacos made with fresh ingredients are already a healthy and satisfying meal, here are some quick tips and tricks to make the healthiest version of your favorite taco.

  • Go plant-based— While most classic types of tacos contain meat, substituting chicken or red meat for plant-based proteins such as refried beans, chickpeas, or even taco seasoned tofu is a great way to make a healthy taco alternative.
  • Consider dairy-free —  For those rocking the Whole30 or Paleo diets, or those who just want to avoid dairy in their foods, consider skipping the cheese and sour cream and instead reach for the hot sauce, salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Each is full of flavor and oh-so-delicious.
  • Corn tortillas over flour tortillas — Corn tortillas are higher in fiber, lower in fat, and overall a better choice than flour. Warm up some corn tortillas, add your favorite fillings, and you’ll never look back!

Healthy taco recipes

Barbacoa Tacos

This recipe is an excellent option for those people out there who love their slow cooker! They’re savory and flavorful, with just the right amount of kick to them—not to mention they’re gluten-free!

Spicy Salmon Tacos w/ Avocado Lime Dressing

This healthy fish taco recipe is nothing you expected but everything you need! Substituting your typical white fish for the rich in omega-3 and fatty acids salmon, this dish is already off to an awesome start! Super easy to put together and with an incredible taste—what’s not to love?!

Sriracha Shredded Chicken Tacos

Onto one of our favorite healthy chicken taco recipes! This sriracha shredded chicken taco recipe is gluten-free and delicious. From the sriracha kick to the crunch of the cabbage to the tangy taste of the feta, this taco is everything you’ve been dreaming of and more!

Breakfast Tacos

Who said you could only enjoy a good taco during lunch and dinner? These healthy breakfast tacos will kick start your day in the best possible way! These delicious tacos are gluten-free, vegetarian, and are super easy to throw together in under 15 minutes.

Or save yourself the time and have your tacos in a snap with Snap Kitchen’s ready-to-eat meals!

Steak Street Tacos & Spanish Rice Pilaf with Salsa Verde

Our healthy and balanced spin on street tacos includes marinated 44 Farms beef knuckle, a Spanish rice pilaf that’s filled with flavorful mix-ins, and our house-made salsa verde.

About Snap Kitchen

Snap Kitchen is a weekly subscription that offers premade, ready-to-eat, healthy meals delivered directly to your door!

Expert chefs craft our rotational menu with the help of our in-house dietitians . Our meals are free of gluten, processed soy, artificial preservatives, added hormones, & artificial sweeteners — but they are definitely not free of flavor!

Ready to try Snap for yourself? Get started today!

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