Healthy Pork Tacos |

Guilt-free Cinco De Mayo: Pork Tacos

Posted on Posted in Inspiration, Recipes

I bet you’ve all had a conversation like this:

“What’s for dinner?”

“Leftover pork roast

“But I don’t want leftovers!”

“Neither do I, but what do you want instead?”

“I don’t know.  You choose!”

“Well I chose leftovers!”

The never-ending battle of deciding what’s for dinner didn’t win this night, though.  I still wanted to get that leftover pork out of the house, but I suppose I didn’t have to use it as-is!  I had just gotten back from the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego, where I ate incredible tacos at least 5 times in 4 days, and I got to thinking.  If I reworked the pork and bought a couple extra ingredients, I could make tacos that replicated the wonderfulness I had in San Diego (without wondering how healthy those tacos actually were).

Healthy Pork Tacos |

So it was settled- healthy pork tacos for dinner.  But every good taco has some unique toppings, rather than just plain old cheddar, tomato, and lettuce.  I decided on a mango salsa (because mangoes were on sale).  But that wasn’t vegetable-y enough, so I decided to also use Napa cabbage dressed in a very tart vinaigrette as a secondary topping.  It still wasn’t spicy enough, so I made a quick jalepeno-parsley-lime sauce in the blender (you could use cilantro if you are among those who don’t think it tastes like soap), and of course included some cheese.  One place I ate at actually broiled the cheese on the taco shell before filling it, so I did the same with some Oaxaca (pretty much string cheese) and cheddar cheeses that I found.

Healthy Pork Tacos |

These tacos ended up being a well-rounded, filling, and exciting Friday night dinner.  So much more fun than leftovers!  Despite being slightly more ingredient- and labor-intense than I would usually plan for, this recipe is absolutely going in my weeknight dinner repertoire every time I have leftover meat.

All the components ready to serve.
All the components ready to serve.

Healthy Pork Tacos

Healthy Pork Tacos


    For the meat:
  • 4 oz of leftover cooked pork, chicken, or beef
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 dash fish sauce
  • For the salsa:
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed and sauteed in butter until slightly browned (if desired)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp minced parsley or cilantro
  • For the cabbage:
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, shredded, washed, and dried
  • 1 dash salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 jalepeno, sliced and de-seeded
  • 1 bunch parsley or cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Dash of salt
  • Small corn tortillas
  • Oaxaca, Cotija, cheddar, and/or mozzarella cheese


  1. Combine ingredients for cabbage and mango salsa in separate bowls and set aside. Drain the cabbage as needed (the salt may draw out moisture).
  2. Place ingredients for the sauce in blender and puree.
  3. Combine teriyaki, hoisin, rice wine vinegar, and fish sauce in a bowl and toss with sliced meat to coat. Saute over medium heat until warmed through.
  4. Meanwhile, sprinkle cheese evenly over tortillas and broil until cheese is melted.
  5. Top tortillas with cabbage, meat, salsa, and a touch of sauce (and more cheese if desired), and serve.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!