Zesty Chicken Bowl Recipe (Former Taco Bell Classic Turned CTW Approved!)

Zesty Chicken Bowl Recipe (Former Taco Bell Classic Turned CTW Approved!)

I have something to confess. I used to eat Taco Bell. Yes the EAT. MOVE. THINK. girl used to thoroughly enjoy herself a disgustingly delicious Grilled Stuffed Burrito during her days as a U of M undergrad (Go Blue!). And, a lifetime ago, so did my hubs. The Zesty Chicken Bowl was to him (now retired from the menu) what the Grilled Stuffed Burrito once was to me. 

So, the other night, as we drove home from a dinner date at Surf Shack (if you live in Tampa or Sarasota, you gotta try it!), or “The Office” as a friend coined it, we passed by one of the chihuahua championing franchises. A midst a brief moment of reminiscing over formerly favorite-fast-food dishes, he (my hubs) had a flash of brilliance (I admit, he has many) and challenged me to make a Code to Wellness version of the Zesty Chicken Bowl!

I gave it my best shot, and according to my highly experienced taste tester, it not only goes toe-to-toe with the original, it surpasses it both in flavor, and of course, health benefits. 

Ok, so a few tips as you’re looking at this recipe and freaking out with overwhelm:

  • Yes there are a lot of parts to this recipe, but none are complicated. Take comfort in that 😉
  • If you do this all in one day, yes it will potentially take you FOREVER, unless you are an insanely amazing multi-tasker and kitchen samurai, which brings me to the next bullet point…
  • Leftovers! Make the rice, beans and chicken in advance to use in other meals as well. Once you’ve got those out of the way, everything is basically chopping and mixing veggies. You don’t need to do this all in one day.
  • Implement helping hands! After all, isn’t the kitchen where family comes together! Have your kid shred some cheese, your significant other chop some lettuce, your sibling fry some tortillas, or your room mate season the chicken. You don’t necessarily have to do it all by yourself. You could even turn it into ‘Zesty Chicken Bowl’ night and invite friends/family over to the house. Then you’ll have even MORE helping hands!
  • Lastly, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the recipe for Real Food TIME SAVING SWAPS. If you really can’t make it all yourself cuz it’s just ‘one of those nights’, no worries. We got you covered.

The possibilities and combinations with this recipe are endless, so have fun with it!

Zesty Chicken Bowl (Former Taco Bell Classic Turned CTW Approved!)
Serves 4
A lifetime ago, Taco Bell's Zesty Chicken Bowl used to be a favz and a staple for my hubs. In one of our recipe challenges, he challenged me to remake a Code to Wellness version of it, and here's what I came up with!
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Ingredients
  1. CRUNCHY TORTILLA STRIPS
  2. 4 sprouted corn tortillas (like these from Food for Life)
  3. 2-3 tbs palm oil or tallow (depending on the size of your skillet
  4. SLOW COOKER BEANS
  5. 8 oz dried cranberry or kidney beans (if you go canned, I like Eden Organic)
  6. 3 C water
  7. 1 tbs Himalayan pink salt or celtic sea salt
  8. 1/4 tsp Pepper
  9. 2 cloves Garlic
  10. 4-6 tbs apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  11. WHITE & WILD RICE PILAF
  12. 1/2 C wild rice
  13. 1 C white rice
  14. 3 1/2 C water or broth
  15. 2 tbs olive or coconut oil
  16. CREAMY DRESSING
  17. 1 C homemade mayo (easiest and best recipe ever!)
  18. 1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt or celtic sea salt
  19. 1/4 tsp pepper
  20. 1/4 tsp coriander
  21. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  22. 1/4 tsp tumeric
  23. 1/4 - 1/2 cayenne (more = spicier)
  24. 1/4 paprika
  25. 1/4 oregano
  26. 1/4 tsp cumin
  27. Juice of 1/2 lemon/lime
  28. CHICKEN
  29. 2 tbs coconut/olive oil
  30. 8 chicken tenders or 4 chicken breasts
  31. 1 tbs salt
  32. 1/2 tsp pepper
  33. 1/2 tsp oregano
  34. FRESH SALSA
  35. 1 tbs salt
  36. 1/2 tsp pepper
  37. 1 handful cilantro
  38. 2 large tomato
  39. 1/2 red onion
  40. 3 scallions (green onion)
  41. juice of 1/2 lemon/lime
  42. OTHER
  43. 2 romaine hearts (cut into thin strips)
  44. raw or grass-fed cheddar (I suggest shredded and I recommend Kerrygold)
Instructions
  1. CRUNCHY CORN TORTILLA STRIPS - Using a small skillet, heat the pan on medium and add in the coconut oil. While the oil is heating, stack your four tortillas and cut into medium sized strips. When the oil is hot, add in as many strips to the pan as can fit without overlapping. You're basically deep frying these puppies. What's that? Deep frying is unhealthy?! Nonsense. With the right oils under the right conditions, it's an acceptable cooking method. Read more here. Fry each strip for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Once they're a nice golden brown color on each side, remove and let rest on a paper towel covered plate to absorb any excess oil. If you've fried them the right way, there honestly should hardly be any excess oil 🙂
  2. SLOW COOKER BEANS - Wash the beans in cold water. Pour them into a large pot, cover with water, add in ACV, cover and let it all soak together for 12-24 hours. This step is super important. Don't skip it. It removes a large percentage of the anti-nutrients contained in beans that cause things like indigestion and flatulence (read more on the importance of soaking beans here). So if you wanna avoid a stomach ache and fart less, soak your beans! Once your beans have been soaked, strain them and dump them into your slow cooker. Cover with 3 C of water. Add in the salt, pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook on high for about 5 hours.
  3. WHITE & WILD RICE PILAF - Rinse both of your rices in cold water, separately. This helps remove the starch. Pour your stock or water into a a medium sized, high sided pot. Add in 1 tsp of salt if you're using water or unsalted broth. If your broth is salted, skip the extra salt. Now add in just the wild rice. It takes a lot longer to cook than white rice. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat until you have a steady simmer. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. When you reach the 25 minute marker, add in the white rice. Stir it all together and cook covered for another 20 minutes. You'll know that your wild rice is done once the grains have opened up and look like this.
  4. CREAMY DRESSING - Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If you like it on the thicker side add a little more mayo. If you like it on the liquid-y side, add a little more lemon/lime juice.
  5. CHICKEN - Heat a large frying pan on medium and add the oil. As the pan and oil heat, season your chicken with salt, pepper and oregano evenly on both sides. Once the oil is hot, add in the chicken and pan fry until golden brown on both sides. Reduce the heat to low and cover for about 5 minutes. If your chicken breast is very thick, and if it's pasture raised it probably won't be that huge, cook covered for a bit longer than 5 minutes or as long as you need until its cooked all the way through.
  6. FRESH SALSA - Dice your tomatoes, scallions and red onion. Mix together in a large bowl. Chop your cilantro roughly and add that to the mix. Juice your lemon or lime over your nearly done salsa. Season with salt and pepper, mix and enjoy!
  7. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER - So once you've got the other seven pieces prepped, it's time to put it all together kitchen sink style. You can honestly do this however you prefer. I like to layer the rice on the bottom, so that it can soak up any liquid from anything else on top of it. I tend to put the salsa, cream and cheese towards the top and finish it off with a few crunchy sprouted tortilla chips. If you're a sour pus like me, sprinkle on a little extra lime, and you're good to go. Dive in and relish in your healthy, #tastebudfriendly , #codetowellness remake of a formerly-favorite Taco Bell classic 😉
Real Food Time-Saving Swaps
  1. Primal Kitchen Mayo (this is literally the ONLY healthy store bought mayo I've seen, it's pricey, but it's convenient).
  2. I have yet to find a bag of sprouted CORN tortilla chips on a grocery store shelf. So if that's what you want, you'll have to make them yourself using the above recipe. If you can tolerate corn and you don't need them to be sprouted in order to keep your gut happy, then here are a few good, quick suggestions that are either Organic, Non-GMO or both: Garden of Eatin', Paqui, Way Better Snacks.
  3. If you go with canned beans, I like Eden Organic. They're pre-soaked with kombu (seaweed) which helps remove some of the flatulence firing antinutrients (as discussed above).
  4. Organic, fresh salsas are easy enough to find at the store if you don't want to make your own. There are plenty to choose from, but Amy's Organic Salsa is one that I particularly like.
  5. Also, Daiya Cheese is a pretty safe dairy-free, gluten-free & soy-free cheese alternative (and it melts!) for those that eat sans the moo.
CODE TO WELLNESS https://www.codetowellness.com/
Bon appetit, or as we say in Spanish, ¡buen provecho!

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PS – not sure what to eat? Check out our recipes tab for epicly #tastebudfriendly , unprocessed, traditionally prepared, real food meal inspiration ideas from around the world.

Delfina Bonilla-Lopez

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