When you study nutrition way too long like I have, there are certain taboo foods most health gurus agree should be avoided like the plague. Bacon is one of them, and I’m guessing ranch dressing probably is too. They’re too high in fat, sodium, preservatives, …flavor, everything.
So as a dietitian, deciding whether or not to post these Chicken Avocado and Bacon Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing has been a week long dilemma for me. Part of me was like “this will be awesome, doooo it!” and the other part of me was like “what will everybody and their mama think?!” And just like all previous dilemmas I put my whole heart and mind into, I realized I was way overthinking it and if I believe no real foods should be off limits in the diet then by golly bacon should not be off limits in this blog. You just won’t see it often in my recipes because, well, it is high in fat, sodium, and preservatives. There’s no getting around that.
So last week when I discovered that chicken club tacos smothered in jalapeno ranch dressing are a real thing, my food dreams were suddenly complete. All was right in my world. Then I got to thinking, “If chicken club tacos are a thing, why can’t chicken avocado and bacon tacos be a thing?”
The rest is history.
90% of the reason I love bacon and ranch dressing is my emotional attachment to them. When I think of bacon, I think of the days my dad stayed home with my two sisters and me when my mom had to be at a teacher’s meeting or some other important event. Our lunch was always a bacon and tomato sandwich spread thick with mayonnaise and served on white bread (outer crust removed). Cheetos and sweet tea made it a complete meal. And don’t even get me started with ranch dressing. It’s the only reason salad has been my favorite food since I was old enough to eat salad.
As much as I would like to say I eat food based on what I should be eating, it is far from the truth. Emotion plays a huge role in what I decide to eat. Thankfully, over the years I have created more positive emotional attachments to healthier foods such as green tea, oatmeal, salmon, broccoli, water, etc. Knowing that I’m nourishing my body with antioxidants, omega-3 fats, fiber, and other vital nutrients is what creates that positive emotional attachment for me. The energy, weight control, and decreased illness I experience as a result keep me motivated to continue. This, in my opinion, is the ideal way to stick to a healthier lifestyle long-term.
If you, dear reader, are looking for a way to eat healthier but have used all the wrong strategies (diets, meal replacements, things you would never do long-term), start by creating emotional attachments to healthier foods. Discover their nutrition benefits and how these benefits help nourish your body from the inside out. Then sticking to it will be easy because of the motivation you will experience from increased energy, weight loss, and decreased illness.
And then have some bacon and ranch dressing every once in a while, okay?
- 4 chicken tenderloin strips
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- pinch of salt and garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 4 bacon strips
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 8 corn tortillas
- tomatoes, diced
- red onion, diced
- cheddar cheese, grated
- cilantro, chopped
- shredded lettuce
- 1 jalapeno, grated or minced
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 packet ranch dressing mix
- To make the jalapeno ranch dressing, add buttermilk, mayonnaise, ranch dressing packet, and grated jalapeno to a bowl or jar and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Prepare toppings by dicing the tomatoes and red onions, chopping the cilantro, grating the cheese, and slicing the avocado. Set toppings aside.
- In a small bowl, add chicken strips, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Stir with a spoon to combine.
- In a non-stick skillet (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Once the pan is sizzling hot, add the four chicken strips and cook on each side for approximately 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (reaches an internal temperature of 165 F). Add chicken strips to a plate and set aside.
- To the same non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon strips and fry to desired level of crispness. Transfer bacon strips to a plate covered with a paper towel so the fat can drain.
- To each taco, add ½ of a chicken tenderloin strip, ½ of a strip of bacon, 2-3 avocado slices, diced tomatoes, diced red onions, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, and jalapeno ranch dressing.
- One serving equals two tacos. Serve and enjoy!