How many calories in a Doritos Locos taco?

I’ve gotten a tremendous number of hits the last few days from people doing a Google search about the calories in a Doritos Locos taco from Taco Bell, all because when I heard the fast-food-meets-junk-food object of desire was being test marketed in areas with relatively low overall incomes and high overall health problems, it set me off on what qualifies as a rant for me. You don’t have to dig around any more. Here is the answer to the question you seek, straight from Taco Bell: Doritos Locos Taco: serving size: 78 grams calories: 170 calories from fat: 80 saturated fat: 3.5 grams total fat: 9 grams trans fat: 0 grams cholesterol: 25 mg sodium: 340 mg carbohydrates: 13 grams dietary fiber: 2 grams sugars: 1 gram protein: 8 grams Doritos Locos Supreme Taco: serving size: 113 grams calories: 200 calories from fat: 100 saturated fat: 4.5 grams total fat: 11 grams trans fat: 0 grams cholesterol: 35 mg sodium: 370 mg carbohydrates: 15 grams dietary fiber: 2 grams sugars: 2 grams protein: 9 grams Taco Bell managed to keep the Doritos Locos taco calories exactly the same as its crunchy taco counterpart. The sodium in the Doritos Locos taco is 50 mg higher than the crunchy taco. What does it all mean? I like this, from a great analysis by Johanna Weiss of the Boston Globe: In truth, when you examine nutrition data on the company website, the Doritos Locos Taco is no worse for you than the rest of the menu. It just sounds more disgusting, which is part of its appeal: A taco to eat...
Corn and Poblano Chowder Recipe

Corn and Poblano Chowder Recipe

“Rich, rich, rich, pale green with teeny tiny flecks of carrot and a perfect corn, cream, poblano balance” – that’s what I jotted down about el Papagayo’s crema de elote y poblano – cream of corn and poblano. Of all the wonderful food we ate in Loreto, this is the one I was most interested in recreating as a family meal. It was served topped with fresh diced tomato and had a few discernible corn kernels, but was mostly a lovely, velvety, pureed soup.   I thought it would be nice to recreate as a chowder, but my first try was much more hot mess than chowdery goodness. The first mistake: cutting my carrots and potatoes into stew-size chunks instead of soup-sized nibbles. The biggest mistake: simmering corn on the cob with seeded poblano peppers to make what I thought would be a tasty green pepper-infused corn stock. Fail. Big time. Since I didn’t char the poblano first, the broth was WAY too spicy, and not in a “good burn after the bite” sort of way, just in a “I just bit into a poblano” bitter spice sort of way. Because of the strong raw pepper taste, the corn was lost along with any depth of flavor. Plus, it still wasn’t green. Sadly, though, I’d already added two cups of the mixture to a sautéed onion, celery, and carrot base, so I carried on, simmering the corn cobs in the soup to boost the corn flavor. Then the cobs started to disintegrate, leaving tiny corn kernel casings in the soup. Grrr. I gave up on trying to infuse any more corn taste...
Tasty yuzu stir-fry recipe

Tasty yuzu stir-fry recipe

The tube of yuzu paste a friend brought me back from Japan a few months ago had been mocking me from the refrigerator door for several months. It was something I’d never encountered before; it has in intriguing sweetly sour, citrus and chili flavor that seemed would be perfect in something. I just didn’t know what, and because of the small tube size, I didn’t want any to go to waste in failed experiments. But this weekend I needed a fast and simple dinner improvised a stir-fry that goes down as The Best Stir Fry Recipe Ever. All I used was is cooked rice, a bit of olive oil, a shallot, ham, frozen peas – and the yuzu paste, literally the only seasoning. It was perfect – just enough heat to get your attention, and just enough citrus to add a pop. I actually made this twice because everyone liked it so much. To be honest, the only reason I used ham and peas is because that’s what was on hand. Ham steak leftover from Friday night pizza night, and I frozen peas as part of my basic stock – not because I think they are particularly delicious, but because they make good ice packs for cold therapy. Fortunately this was an unused bag. And equally fortunately, it turns out I can easily buy more through Amazon.com. It’s called yuzu kosho, or yuzu and peppers, and the ingredients are yuzu, green chili peppers, and salt. Mmmm. Turns out yuzu paste aficionados have some illustrious company – Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto integrates the ingredient into recipes at his eponymous New York City restaurant....
Algae burger on rye, anyone?

Algae burger on rye, anyone?

You will probably never deliberately order an algae burger on rye, a bean-and-algae burrito, or an algae caesar salad. But a day will eventually come when you will be inadvertently making algae a part of your diet: How can this be, you wonder? Start by enjoying this cool stop-motion animation, an illustration of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules created by the team of Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle for an RSA competition: embedded by Embedded Videovimeo Direkt (Did you like it? Help them win by voting here.) In the video, Pollan made the point: In 2008, which was a year of supposed food crisis, we grew enough food to feed 11 billion people. Most of it was not eaten by humans as food, however; a great deal of it was fed to animals, about half, to feed our meat habit. And a great deal, especially in the United States, was fed to automobiles, because we’re driving our cars on food right now. We hear that meat takes an enormous amount of resources to produce –  water, land, crops, pesticides, fertilizer – all tied up in feeding the animals to get them all nice and fat and ready for us to eat. Wouldn’t it be great if that could all change? If we could figure out a way to feed our warm-blooded protein sources without sacrificing clean water and whole grain for humans? To really have our cake and eat it too? An article today in Grist by Claire Thomson discusses how that may come to be. Researchers are figuring out a way to substitute algae-based animal feed for corn and soy-based feed...
Battle zucchini

Battle zucchini

Stick with me to the end and I’ll share some zucchini dinner ideas with you. After five days in St. Louis hanging out with mystery writers at Bouchercon, I came home with a recharged imagination and chaos in the garden. Seemed that summer ended in my absence. The pea plants turned yellow; leftover pods shriveled on the vine. Barren Roma tomato vines withered into dried brown tentacles. The last of the spinach leaves were riddled with moth holes, and the zucchini leaves had mildewed. So on the first day of autumn, I cleared away the detritus and harvested all the veggie booty I could find. Here’s the loot: Those #$*% zucchini again. Again! The biggest ones there are 5 – 8 pounders, and the summer squash that never quite got off the ground started going crazy. I tried to do my best by the harvest. Zucchini risotto. Another gallon of zucchini marinara. 5 loaves of zucchini bread. Zucchini on pizza. Zucchini sticks. Zucchini egg cups. I even bought this awesome spiral slicer and we had zucchini “noodles” with olive oil and meatballs. By Saturday – a full three weeks later after that harvest – we’d lost any semblance of desire for zucchini. But there were two monsters left.  So I gathered the Kids and the pumpkin-carving tools and told them to go ahead and crush the courgettes. Meet Daphne and Velma, the fruits of their labors, our first jack-‘o-zucchini lanterns: A creative end to the zucchini problem. I used to have a couple zucchini around year-round to add to stir fry or pasta sauce or to saute with garlic as a side...

Dorito loco taco, or taco asqueroso

How many kinds of wrong is this? Mythical Doritos taco shells surface in Fresno – latimes.com. According to yesterday’s LA Times, Taco Bell started selling Doritos Locos Tacos, a taco made with shell of nacho-cheese-flavored Dorito shell.  Mythic? Legendary? A beautiful thing? Sounds like a nightmare to me. Time to pull my zucchini-stuffed head out of the sand for a bit here and step up to protest. Start with health wrong-ness. A Livestrong analysis weighs a 4.5 oz (127.6 grams) Taco Bell taco shell in at 150 calories 6g from fat (of which 3g are saturated) 21g from carbs (of which 2g is dietary fiber) 2g from protein 5mg sodium. Got it? Not too bad, really. Ok. Now compare to a 4.5 oz serving of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Livestrong’s nutritional analysis lists serving size as 1 bag weighing 49.6 grams. Assuming the new Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos shell is the same serving size as the original and the same recipe as the chips, it takes 2.6 servings to make a 4.5 oz taco shell. Multiply the nutrition facts for 1 serving by 2.6 and you get a taco shell that contains 650 calories 33.8 grams of fat (of which 7.8 are saturated) 78g carbs (of which 5.2 is dietary fiber and 5.2 is sugars) 10.4g protein 806mg sodium Given my assumptions and calculations are correct, the new shell provides 500 calories more than their standard taco. This lady has eaten one every day for a week; she’ll be surprised next time she steps on a scale. That extra 500 calories per day equals about a pound of weight gain per...
Ancient Aztec superfood!

Ancient Aztec superfood!

I saw this yesterday walking down the bread aisle yesterday and actually did laugh out loud. Other people smiled, but that was probably because of the crazy lady taking photos of bread with her cell phone. But look – what’s your first thought? Chia bread? No way – I thought Chia Head! SNL’s Chia Head skit was the first time I’d ever heard of chia (ok, I didn’t watch a lot of TV in the ’80’s), and it was a few months before I understood that there really was a chia head, and chia pets, and it was a whole . . . thing. A thing I just snickered at. Turns out, though, chia bread isn’t made from recycling your old chia Sponge Bob. Proud owners of Chia pets are having the last laugh. The seeds of the chia plant or salvia hispanica, are packed with protein, calcium, and antioxidants, stabilize blood sugar, cause no allergic reaction, and – wait, there’s more! – they contain HUGE amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Imagine heart health without fish burps. Sprout the seeds, grind them for flour, mix with dried fruit for a crunchy trail mix – you name it, chia goes with everything. First flax, then hemp, now chia – chia is poised to become this year’s culinary equivalent of the new black. I’m a closet ethnobotany nerd and have discovered that chia isn’t a joke at all – it’s a quite fascinating plant. Native to Mexico and Central America, it was well-documented in both the Mendoza Codex and the Florentine Codex, texts created in the mid-16th century by Spanish explorers intent on...
How to stuff a wild zucchini

How to stuff a wild zucchini

The zucchini have gone completely wild this year. It didn’t start out that way; they were actually slow to grow. I planted the 4″ starts the second week of May; by the third week of June they’d barely doubled in size. So I worked a handful of Dr. Earth into the soil and got the drip irrigation going. Drip, drop, drip, drop, 1 gallon psi for 30 minutes every other day. With a week 3 foot high stems sporting dinner plate-sized leaves waved high in the air. One day I found a monstrous 3 pound zucchini I swear hadn’t existed the day before. I went away the second week of July and, returning home, discovered the zucchini had gone completely wild. They’d snuck out of their raised bed, crowded out the cucumber and spinach, and sported platter-sized leaves. Hidden underneath were dozens of tastefully-sized baby zucchini . . . dinner! I’d just been reading the Southwest Airlines flight magazine featuring this recipe for zucchini carpaccio recipe, so we were on. I didn’t worry too much about arranging the thinly sliced squash in lovely pattern on the plate, just sliced, sprinkled drizzled, and ate – and it was so good! Dinner from the garden – a fantasy coming true. We’ve made it several time since, occasionally using white balsamic vinegar and leaving out the olive oil and lemon, depending on what’s handy. Then we started harvesting zucchini blossoms – they’ve starred in over a dozen meals over the last 8 weeks – and they really are the best part of the plant.  We’ve eaten them stuffed with mozzarella and chives, dredged in...
First fruit

First fruit

Tons of rock. Yards of soil. Comparing the relative values of heirloom seeds vs. organic starts. Six trips to the nursery to puzzle together a jigsaw of drip irrigation. Finally my garden fantasies are starting to bear fruit.

Drinking my vegetables

Drinking my vegetables

“Tiny pellets of poison” what a friend calls peas. Personally, I don’t have any problem with peas as long as they’re not mushy and are mixed in a creamy white sauce, tossed with penne, and topped with crispy prosciutto. Everything is better with crispy prosciutto. I told someone recently that I don’t really like vegetables. That’s not really true, though, I love artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), and any member of the allium family. I’ll take a tart, crunchy salad any day, loaded with lettuce and cucumbers and radishes and celery and shredded multicolor carrots. I like some vegetables. It’s probably more accurate to say that admonishments to “eat your vegetables” and news extolling vegetables’ virtues have only served to turn me off. They’re just not being presented in a delicious way, and I just don’t have much innate desire for dandelion greens or kale. I’m not like that mom who turned to me that cool Tuesday morning while chaperoning a Kid Two field trip as asked, “I just crave cruciferae this time of year, don’t you?” No. I’ve recently developed a fondness for fennel and parsnip, but I don’t dream of roasted beets. No cooing over cauliflower. Squash and yams are challenging to cook with. Just smelling broccoli makes me queasy, as it has ever since I was pregnant with Kid One. And Brussels sprouts? Big shiver. It was over between us after The Worst Dinner I Ever Ate – LL’s 50th birthday dinner – which infamously finished with Brussels sprouts crème brûlée. Truly disgusting. I’ve since noticed that fall’s fields of ripe Brussels sprouts give off the odor of...

Urban farming

Novella Carpenter is my newest heroine. I’ve just finished reading her book Farm City: Confessions of an Urban Farmer, in which she moves into a ramshackle apartment on a dead-end street in a dead-end Oakland, CA neighborhood and hesitantly plants a garden in the empty lot next door. This quickly grows to a full-scale, tenth of an acre, urban farm, complete with beehive, egg-laying chickens, “meat birds” (ducks, turkeys, and more chickens) and rabbits, all successful experiments is loony locavorism that leads to, by the book’s close, her careful cultivation of two Red Duroc pigs for future meals. Carpenter lives the intersections of food with community and environment in a high crime, low income, politically weak area, and her observations become the backdrop to her story. She does such an excellent job at demonstrating a way of life instead of evangelizing it, and made me think about abundance and waste in different terms. She’s also a completely engaging writer, open and funny in telling her story. I laughed out loud several times, especially when she describes feeding her pigs their first meal scavenged from a Chinatown dumpster. The key to Farm City, however, is that although its premise of two white kids growing vegetables and butchering rabbits in the inner city sounds like it could be the teaser of a doomed Hollywood movie, she is genuinely honest and passionate about her avocation; there is nothing precious, pretentious, self-righteous, or gimmicky in her tale. This book came along at a perfect time for me. We took down the play structure just as winter started and have been thinking about how best...

The Baby Food Diet!

The Baby Food Diet, really??? The story isn’t really about Jennifer Aniston at all. It’s about our celebrity-obsessed, body-obsessed culture reaching out for another magic bullet – a shortcut to perfection to make our lives complete. It’s boring to hear that it’s really a never-ending path littered with hard work.

HFCS, a gloppy monster

News that Hunt’s is cutting high fructose corn syrup from their catsup recipe makes me wonder if HFCS will fall into the “seemed like a good idea at the time” category along with DDT and subprime mortgage loans. I cut it out of our diets over decade ago and since then it just sounds worse and worse. Give me my sweets straight from the plant, please!