Citrus Cilantro Chicken Tacos

Tacos get a bad reputation. I don’t understand why they’re considered a cheat food. If you reel in the portion size, tacos are both a healthy and balanced choice. Case in point: Me eating them for two weeks in a row while trying to perfect these carnitas. I feel great; energized and nourished and haven’t gained a pound. Dats the power of TACOS, my friends. 

Taco Swaps That Don’t Suck 

For a taco you can eat every single night, consider a few of these healthier swaps.  

Corn tortillas over flour: Choosing corn will shave off some calories they don’t contain gluten. If gluten upsets your stomach, this is a solid swap. To improve the taste of corn tortillas, try toasting them in a cast iron pan or directly over a gas stove like your abuela used to do (anyone else?!) It’s a small step that makes corn tortillas taste way better. 

I like to fill up three “street taco” size corn tortillas because that perfect serving size only costs me 100 calories. Score! 

Ground chicken instead of beef: This isn’t a fat thing; I’m not afraid of some extra dietary fat as many of you know. It’s a volume thing. Ground chicken has 50 fewer calories per serving than ground beef (85% lean) and the two taste similar when seasoned. This is about me filling up on more meat while staying within my macros. 

Power-packed toppings: Mexican food is full of natural flavor! Foods like jalapeno, onion, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro all add tremendous flavor without many calories. Here are a few power-packed toppings you can (and should) load up on. 

  • Salsa (Switch it up: try roasted salsa or salsa verde!) 

  • Diced heirloom or roma tomatoes 

  • Greek yogurt (good substitute for sour cream) 

  • Pickled jalapenos 

  • Cabbage slaw 

  • Purple onion 

  • Squeeze of lime 

  • Chopped cilantro 

  • Queso fresco (you don’t need much of this stuff!) 

 
Citrus Cilantro Chicken Tacos, Instant Pot Meal Prep 2
 

Today's Recipe is Basic:

Versatile + Flavorful Shredded Chicken

Do you have an Instant Pot yet? My friends! Don't be afraid of it. Put some money aside and get one of these ASAP. One of my favorite foods to prepare in the Instant Pot is shredded chicken because it comes out juicy and flavorful every time. The slow cooker is another good option, but you'll need 3-4 hours opposed to 20 minutes in a pressure cooker. 

I've included both methods in the recipe card so you can cook this up fast or slow. Seriously though, all of you need an Instant Pot.

The Final Spread: Avocado BOMB Sauce 

Eat more avocados. They're one of the best fats nature offers us. Avocados protect your heart with monounsaturated fat. They have plenty of potassium (good for regulating blood pressure). An incredible fat source, they also give us all the benefits of fat like hormone regulation and mineral absorption. And they keep you full!

This bomb sauce isn't my recipe though! 

I found it on Pinterest and whipped it up in my food processor. You can find the 6-ingredient recipe here; make and thank me later.

Batch Prepping VS Meal Prepping

Instead of assembling these tacos and storing them, we're going to seal up our chicken (and toppings) separately. This will preserve the textures and flavors beautifully. If you have the means, feel free to bring your ingredients to work and assemble your tacos for lunch. Fridge space is scarce at my work, so I eat them at home for dinner.

That's the gist of batch prepping: you prepare staple foods instead of whole meals. Batch prepping is a great practice for kids and families. Instead of scrambling to make dinner from scratch, you've got all your foods prepped and ready to reheat/assemble. 

 

Citrus Cilantro Chicken Tacos

fast or slow method

Set this meal prep recipe on autopilot, either in your Instant Pot (pressure cooker) or your Crock Pot (slow cooker). Shredded chicken can be stored in the fridge up to 7 days.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Mexican

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken (thighs or breasts work great)

  • 1 yellow onion (cut into wedges)

  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 1 tsp. chili powder

  • 1 tsp. cumin

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp. oregano

  • juice of 2 limes

  • juice of 1 orange

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 1/2 - 1 jalapeño

  • fresh cilantro for garnish

Prep work instructions:

  1. Mix together the cumin, oregano, chili powder, and salt in a small bowl. Liberally season both sides of your chicken with it.

  2. Squeeze lime and orange juice into the Instant Pot or slow cooker. Add seasoned chicken. Wiggle in onion chunks between the chicken pieces.

  3. Add the remainder of your ingredients on top of the chicken, including chicken broth.

INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Turn the nob on the instant pot to Seal. Cook on MANUAL for 8 minutes. Carefully quick release the steam knob after it's done.

CROCK POT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook on high for three hours or until internal temp is 165 degrees.

FINAL STEP AFTER COOKING

  1. Save the liquid!

  2. Turn on the oven broiler. Remove chicken breasts and shred them with two forks. Once shredded, arrange chicken on a cookie sheet and evenly drizzle 1/4 cup of the liquid in your Instant Pot/slow cooker.

  3. Broil for 5 minutes. Afterward, flip chicken pieces then coat chicken with another 1/4 cup of liquid evenly. Broil 5 more minutes or until chicken edges are slightly crispy.

  4. For meal prep: Store chicken in an airtight container for up to a week. Use it for batch-prep tacos or a number of other ways like a quesadilla filling, scrambled up with eggs, heaped over a southwest salad, or enjoy on it's own!