Deconstructed Tacos

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I always handle my produce with care, but dry goods can be another story - especially if I’m trying to unload groceries from the car in one trip! I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised then when I open my box of taco shells and at least one shell broken. But here’s the thing: if they had not gotten broken, I guarantee you my kids would break them while filling – or when they take that first bite. 

I decided to stop expecting all my taco shells to stay intact until eaten by creating a recipe where you actually HAVE to break them. My kids call them nachos; I prefer to call them “deconstructed tacos” to make me feel a little fancy and gourmet on a Monday night.  

Here are a few reason why this sheet pan dinner is always on the menu for busy week nights: 

  • Compared to tortilla chips, those broken corn shells give you a crunchy, but sturdier base for nachos that’s also lower in fat, sodium and calories!  

  • Lining a sheet pan with foil means almost no clean-up. Can I get an AMEN?!

  • Melting the cheese over just the broken shells and means everyone gets to top their own nachos. NO COMPLAINING!  

  • For a SUPER busy week, make the taco meat ahead of time and refrigerate. Then reheat when ready to assemble on a sheet pan and bake.  

You can really use chicken, ground turkey, or keep it vegetarian and add extra beans.  It’s a recipe that rolls with whatever you’ve got on hand and that everyone will love. Give these a try on a busy week night or as an appetizer at your next get together!

Let me know what you think by sharing your final product on social media! Be sure to tag me : Instagram @realfoodreallife_rd / Facebook @Real Food. Real Life. - Carolyn Williams, PHD, RD.

Love Tacos? Of course, you do! Head over here to find more delicious taco-inspired dishes!


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Deconstructed Nachos

Do half your taco seem to end up broken before they even get filled? No problem! In fact, you have to break them for this sheet pan dinner. Compared to tortilla chips, those broken corn shells give you a crunchy, but sturdier base for nachos that’s also lower in fat, sodium and calories!


  • 10 whole-grain corn taco shells

  • ¾ pound lean ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons organic taco seasoning (such as Wildtree) or 1 (1.25-oz) envelope reduced-sodium taco seasoning

  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

  • ½ to 2/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

  • 3 green onions, chopped

  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded

  • 1 cup tomato, chopped, or cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • TOPPINGS: sour cream, avocado, corn, and/or jalapeño slices


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with foil.

  2. Arrange whole shells (or pieces, if some are broken) on foil-lined pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 4 minutes. Remove from oven; let shells cool on pan. (Do not turn oven off). 

  3. While taco shells are in oven, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, and cook, stirring to crumble, 6 minutes or until done. Add preferred taco seasoning and half of the water suggested on taco seasoning packaging, stirring to combine. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened or most water is absorbed. 

  4. Break cooled shells in half, and then break each half into two pieces (essentially you are breaking each shell into approx. 4 pieces). Spread across foil-lined pan, slightly overlapping edges of shell pieces. Spoon taco meat mixture evenly over “chips,” followed by black beans, cheese and green onions. 

  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and other toppings as desired before serving – OR – serve without toppings and let each person top their own. 


  • Per serving (4 servings): 467 Cal | 22g Fat | 27g Pro | 39g Carb, 6g Fiber, 4g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

  • Per serving (6 servings): 311 Cal | 14g Fat | 18g Pro | 26g Carb, 4g Fiber, 3g Sugar (0g Added Sugar)

Deconstructed Tacos Carolyn Williams PhD RD