Lettuce, whatever kind you like- sometimes I use a couple varieties mixed together
Fresh Cilantro, cleaned and chopped (this makes the salad, in my... opinion)
Light Ranch Dressing (Maries Refrigerated is the best)
Powdered Taco Seasoning
Organic/Whole Grain Taco Chips (I use whatever I have on hand), crumbled (if you want to be fancy you can buy taco strip salad toppings)
Whatever else you want to top with- Typically I use:
Shredded chicken or carne asada, warmed (the chicken is lower in fat and calories)
Canned, rinsed pinto or kidney beans
Frozen corn, thawed or canned Mexi-corn, drained
Black olives, diced
Shredded cheddar or 2% or part skim shredded cheddar
Mix the lettuce with the cilantro to taste (I use a goodly amount of cilantro) in a large bowl if you’re serving several or just on your plate for one serving. After you plate the lettuce mixture, top with warmed shredded meat (I used chicken here) and whatever other toppings you prefer. Finish the salad off with a little shredded cheese and crumbled taco chips. Finally, top with taco seasoned dressing (see below).
Dressing: Pour whatever amount of ranch dressing you will need into a glass bowl or Tupperware container and mix with powdered taco seasoning to taste. Add just a little for mild heat or a lot for more heat.
This works great for a crowd. Easy to prep and everyone can top with what they like. I also make it and just store all the ingredients in snap top containers and then I can have a quick lunch or dinner for several days in a row- easy smeasy....
The key to keeping it healthy is to use quality ingredients and moderation in the amount of toppings you use. Go easy on the cheese and taco chips; you don’t need a lot to get the flavor or the crunch.
The brand of chips I show in the picture, Food Should Taste Good, is my favorite if you can find them in your area - they come in lots of varieties of flavors and are made with whole grains & are low in healthy fat and taste great- my favorite is their sweet potato chips. Maries Light Ranch Dressing is the best I’ve found in terms of healthy ingredients without added chemicals/preservatives and has good flavor. You can’t even tell you’re eating a light dressing once you add the taco seasoning. (Usually I don’t like reduced fat or calorie dressings. They’re usually full of more sugar and artificial chemicals and aren’t very good for you… and they don’t taste very good anyway. I’d rather have a smaller amount of the real thing than more of the other stuff, but in this case I can’t tell the difference, as long as it’s the Maries brand.)