Beef Taco Salad with Avocado-Cilantro-Lime Dressing

I'm so excited about the fact that my local Sprouts market started carrying grass-fed beef! It does cost a little more, however several articles, including one from Mark's Daily Apple have helped me to realize that grass-fed beef is more healthful. The reason why it is advisable to choose grass-fed meat is because of a difference in the fat profile. Gras-fed cows have a higher volume omega-3 fatty acids, whereas grain-fed cows have a relatively nonexistent amount due to their diet. Basically, grain-fed cows have a poorer o-6:o-3 ratio fat compared to grass-fed. It is important to consume o-3s because it is an essential fatty acid---our bodies can't make it---so we must get it from outside sources.

I used my grass-fed beef to satisfy a craving I had for taco salad. A taco salad is easy to make Paleo, all you have to do is take away the tortilla bowl, the shredded cheddar cheese, and the sour cream. What you're left with is still pretty good, but I decided to jazz my salad up by making a pseudo-sour cream ranch dressing hybrid. It has all the tang of sour cream or ranch but without the dairy. Plus it adds the garlicky hit that ranch dressing has. Based from whipped avocado, it adds all the creaminess you would miss from the sour cream. This dressing can be made in a food processor, but I prefer and immersion blender to add a lot of air into the dressing to make it velvety-soft. For me, I normally don't prefer iceberg lettuce, but the cool crunchiness is necessary for a good taco salad, in my opinion. Just looking at these pictures makes me want to prepare this salad again! I really enjoyed this hearty salad, and thanks to the protein and healthy fats, it will keep you full for a long time.

Beef Taco Salad with Avocado-Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Printable Recipe

For the meat:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad:

1 head iceberg lettuce, coarsely shredded
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 2.25-oz can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup prepared salsa

For the dressing:

1 small ripe avocado
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the garlic, onion, and beef. If the beef is very lean, you may need to add some oil of your choice to help the meat brown and the vegetables to soften. Cook the mixture until the meat is about 75% of the way cooked, then sprinkle over the cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Cook the meat through and toss in the cilantro.
2. While the meat is cooking, prepare the salad: arrange the lettuce, tomato, olives, and salsa decoratively between 4 dinner plates. Set aside while preparing the dressing.
3. For the dressing: add all the ingredients to a bowl of a food processor or the container that your immersion blender comes with. Blend the mixture until very smooth. Set aside.
4. Finally, place the meat in the center of each salad and add thick drizzles of the avocado dressing all around. Cilantro makes a pretty garnish.

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