Hidden Nutritional Gem at Taco Bell (quick read)

You may have some guesses about what I am going to write about.  You might be thinking, Dr Jimmy’s going to say that we should eat Taco Bell’s salads, or the “Power Bowls”, or the bottled water.  Not so fast my friends.  The Power Bowls are OK nutritionally, but they are a bit boring, and as everyone knows, Taco Bell doesn’t even have salads.  I kind of respect Taco Bell for not having salads, because going to a fast food restaurant for a salad is like going to a prostitute for a hug.  Secondly, if they did have salads, I wouldn’t call them a “hidden gem”, as salads are obviously the healthiest thing on any fast food menu.  The hidden gem is the crunchy taco supreme (CTS).  Why the CTS and not the crunch wrap supreme, chicken soft taco, or one of the many other tasty choices on the Taco Bell menu?  I’ll tell you.   The CTS combines a surprisingly good nutritional profile with undeniable deliciousness (especially when paired with spicy “fire” taco sauce and maybe an ice cold Coors light).  I’ll explain.

First off, the delightfully crunchy corn shell is surprisingly low in carbs, and even lower if you factor in that 1/3 the shell usually falls into your lap and therefore may or may not be consumed at all.  Crunchy corn shells are superior to the soft taco (wheat) shells in terms of carbs, fiber, flavor, and not surprisingly crunch.  Furthermore, the CTS is gluten free, which is a rarity in the fast food world.  The CTS also has some fresh plants (tomatoes and lettuce) and these two ingredients definitely bring some extra flavors and texture to the party.   Moreover, the CTS has protein (ground beef) and admittedly Taco Bell had some bad press a few years ago when we found that their “beef” was only 88% actual beef, but the other 12% isn’t that bad, so don’t worry about it.

In addition to cheddar cheese, the CTS has sour cream which not only gives a hit of indulgent acidity, but also serves as a tasty source of fat that will leave us feeling full and help keep our blood glucose low.  Finally, it has some fiber, which we can subtract from the total carbs to find the all important “net carbs”.

Pro tip:  You can add black beans and guacamole for even more fiber, protein, and fat for only 29 and 60 cents respectively.  I should really be charging for this blog.  You’re welcome.

Admittedly, I need more than one to satisfy my cravings.  So in the spirit of fairness, I created the snazzy bar chart below comparing my normal serving size of three CTS’s to the second most delicious item on the Taco Bell Menu, the Crunchwrap Supreme, as well as the most overrated fast food meal of all time, The Big Mac w/fries.

 

First, a word about the Crunchwrap Supreme.   Some of the smartest people I know prefer the Crunchwrap Supreme because it’s tasty, easily dipped in salsa, sour cream, or queso, and not messy to eat whilst driving, but that won’t sway my opinion of said menu option.  The Crunchwrap Supreme is a firm “no” from Dr. Jimmy because it has too many glutenous carbs and too little fat, protein, and fiber.   To be clear, the crunchwrap isn’t the nutritional shit-show that is the Big Mac and Fries, but it’s clearly suboptimal when compared to CTS’s.

Did I mention that CTS’s are gluten free and friggin’ delicious?  They are.  Also, homemade tacos can be amazing and surprisingly nutritious, but that’s another article.

But Dr. Jimmy, what about the chicken McNuggets?  They’re low in carbs and high in protein.  OK, I will admit that McNuggets also meet some of my criteria, but they’re fried in heavily processed pro-inflammatory vegetable oil.  They have zero grams of fiber.  Zero.  Finally, they’re  gross.  They are reconstituted chicken parts with filler, binders, and everyone gets them with fries, so there goes the carb count.  Also, McNuggets are for picky children and adults who consider Dr. Pepper to be a spicy beverage I.E. not you.  You’re a sophisticated diner looking to broaden your meal options whilst stretching your shopping dollar but also you’re trying not to gain weight and maybe you’re a little buzzed, also it’s 1AM.  You may or may not be wearing pants (hint: you’re not).

So, when we order the CTS’s are we are seriously eating in a super clean, whole-30, vegan, keto, paleo, healthy way? No, but if you’re navigating the fast food landscape and looking for something  that’s delicious, not a salad, and not a nutritional trainwreck, I can only find one option, hence this article.  Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dr. Jimmy.
    You don’t know me and it doesn’t appear that we’ll run into each other at a McDonald’s in the future. But my sister told me of the best blog ever (yours). I read it and whole heartedly agreed. I’m sure you busy, being a doctor and all. But, we need more of your writing, keep it coming. Similar to Batman, you’re the writer we need, not the writer we deserve.

    1. Tyler, I’ve never been compared to Batman before, but I welcome the comparison. I need to get back into writing. Thanks for the funny and kind words. It made my day.

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