Image courtesy of Taco Bell
Meal kits have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years—and for good reason. With everything you need for a delicious meal in a neatly packaged box, they save you a trip to the grocery store or yet another food delivery order. And now, Taco Bell has hopped on the meal kit bandwagon.
The Taco Bell Cravings Kits include the restaurant’s famous seasonings and sauces along with other ingredients like tortilla shells and Velveeta cheese to whip up your favorite drive-thru dish at home. All you need to add? Your protein of choice.
While each Cravings Kit has all the essentials for your next Taco Tuesday, there are a bunch of ways to make the meals even more nutritious with a few touches of your own.
We spoke with Brookell White, MS—a registered dietitian who works with MyFitnessPal—to find out how to boost the nutritional benefits of the latest Taco Bell meal kits. These are her top 10 tips:
1. Add lean protein
White recommends adding in lean protein like chicken, shrimp, or ground turkey to boost the nutrition factor. Protein will not only keep you fuller for longer and regulate your appetite, it’s also an important macronutrient for building muscle and improving bone health.
Also Read >> MyFitnessPal’s Essential Guide to Protein
2. Mix in black beans
If you’re looking for a meatless option, black beans are a smart source of plant-based protein. A one-cup serving of black beans contains 15 grams of protein—not too shabby.
3. Incorporate lettuce and tomatoes
Both ingredients you can order at the Taco Bell drive-thru, lettuce and tomatoes add vitamins and minerals without adding a bunch of calories. “A win-win!” Brookell says.
4. Swap in Greek yogurt for sour cream
While you could just skip the cheese and/or creamy sauces completely, you can also sub in Greek yogurt for a similar mouthfeel with more good-for-you nutrients. “A low fat Greek yogurt is much lower in calories and higher in protein than sour cream,” White says. “It also retains a creamy texture very similar to sour cream.” For reference, a ½-cup serving of plain Greek yogurt contains around 80 calories and 11 grams of protein, while a ½-cup serving of sour cream racks up around 250 calories and just 4 grams of protein.
5. Top with sautéed bell peppers
Another way to healthify your Cravings Kit is to add in more veggies—like red and green bell peppers. White notes that the colorful vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin C and A.
6. Add sautéed spinach
Toss in leafy greens for more nutrition. “By adding spinach you’re adding many vitamins and minerals!” White says. “Spinach is rich in iron, potassium, folate, and vitamins C, A and K.”
Also Read >> Healthier Fast Food Meals Under 500 Calories
7. Serve with a side
You can boost the fiber content in your meal by serving it with a side of vegetables, like a tossed green salad or some sautéed veggies.
8. Use less sauce
If you want to cut down on calories, saturated fat, and/or sodium (which are “nutrients we commonly get too much of,” according to White), simply decrease the amount of sauce you use. A little goes a long way.
9. Add avocado
For some healthy fat, top your dish with sliced avocado or some guac. White recommends swapping avocado in for cheese or sour cream as a better-for-you source of fat.
10. Mix in brown rice
“Brown rice contains fiber and is a good source of complex carbohydrates leading to slower digestion. Adding it will boost your vitamin and mineral intake, too,” White explains. Increasing your fiber can keep you, ahem, regular, and also help balance your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Regardless of how you choose to dress them up, the new Taco Bell Cravings Kits are a convenient way to enjoy your favorite fast food treats at home. And as White describes them, they’re an “empty canvas” that you can customize to your own liking, whether that’s with a heaping dollop of homemade guacamole for healthy fats or a serving of ground turkey for more protein. Now you can live mas (and healthier) at home.
Don’t forget to track your at-home Taco Bell meals with MyFitnessPal! It’ll help you ensure any alterations and additions you make to your meals are aligned with your nutrition and weight loss goals.