I have been in a real weeknight meal rut lately.
I hate when this happens! It can be so hard to break the cycle.
Often times, after working all day or tending to the kids for hours on end, the very last thing I feel like doing is making an elaborate dinner. I think that’s probably true for most of us. This problem is often compounded by the fact that I’m lacking inspiration. Nothing sounds good. Nothing is getting me excited.
This leads to us ordering take out more than I care to admit. Summer is one of my favorite seasons for cooking lighter fare, and we often have salads or caprese or grilled corn on the cob for dinner. Not that any of those are bad options – they’re fantastic. Buuuut even those options can get stale after awhile. I also feel a little lazy slapping together something so uninspired for dinner. Like, food is my passion! Why can’t I come up with something amazing for every meal?!
Clearly, my expectations for myself are a bit too lofty. Classic Virgo over here.
My strategy when this happens is to figure out a meal that can be mostly prepped ahead and eaten over a few nights of the week. Bowl-based meals are great for this. In fact, if you look at my dinner recipe history on this site, you’ll see a lot of bowls, like these and these and these. Good stuff. The method works!
I love it because components can be prepped and made ahead, kept in separate containers, and thrown all together in a bowl and heated up when it’s time to eat. It makes life so much easier. Especially on busy weeknights.
This meal pays homage to one of the first things my chef sister made for the family. My middle sister, Rosie, has been a chef for years now and she has worked in some pretty fabulous kitchens in Philly. One of her favorite things to make the family is chicken tinga tacos, a staff meal favorite in many of the kitchens where she has worked. She was taught how to make this by coworker friends, and the recipe has remained one of my family’s favorites. Whenever she offers to cook for us (which isn’t often given her profession – totally understandable), we ask for her chicken tinga.
So, today, I’m giving you my version of the classic. It’s loosely based on Rosie’s interpretation. It’s PACKED with savory and spicy flavor and is fairly simple to throw together. Chicken tinga, if you don’t already know, is a spicy and smoky tomato-based sauce that is most commonly paired with shredded chicken. My recipe is tangy, spicy, smoky, and a toooouch sweet. This recipe makes a lot, too, so it’s great for meal prepping for the week ahead and staving off any dinner ruts.
I love meals like this for another reason: they’re VERY customizable. Basically, my intent here is to provide you with a really awesome and flavorful protein base (the chicken tinga), to which you can add anything you like to make your ideal taco bowl.
Into ours went brown rice, a cabbage and corn slaw for some crunch and sweetness, salty sharp cheddar cheese, buttery avocado, tangy sour cream, and lots of fresh herbs. As with anything in this flavor profile, I also like to add a ton of fresh lime juice to my bowl. It makes all the other flavors sing.
I prep the components on a Sunday evening so that we can enjoy them for the next few nights. Cook once, eat thrice.
It doesn’t get much better than that. Weeknight dinner doldrums be damned!
Rosie, I hope I made you proud!Print
These healthy chicken tinga taco bowls make for an easy, satisfying dinner! They come together quickly and work well for meal prepping! All the main components can be made ahead.
For the Chicken:
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 (15-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Bowls:
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- Juice of 2 limes
- 3 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Sliced avocado
- Sour cream/yogurt
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Chicken:
- Place the chicken in a large skillet and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cover with enough water so the chicken is submerged by 1 inch. Place over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking, blend the onion, garlic, tomatoes, chipotle peppers, sugar, and oregano in your blender until completely pureed and smooth.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Drain the water from the skillet, wipe out, and then return to the stove.
- Add the oil to the skillet and place over medium heat. Add the blended sauce to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. The sauce should reduce and thicken.
- Meanwhile, shred the chicken with your hands or two forks (you can also use your stand mixer to shred cooked chicken – put it in the mixing bowl and shred on low speed with the paddle attachment).
- Add the shredded chicken to the pan, toss to coat in the sauce, and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
For the Taco Bowls:
- Combine the cabbage, corn, and lime juice in a large bowl. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- For each taco bowl, layer some of the cooked rice, cabbage/corn slaw, tinga chicken, shredded cheese, avocado slices, and salsa and/or sour cream. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.
The idea here is to give you a protein base for your bowls: the chicken. Customize the other ingredients to make your perfect taco bowl! Swap the rice for cauliflower rice or veggie noodles. Add crushed tortilla chips to the top. Change up the cheese. Add in fajita peppers and onions. Make it your own!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: dinner
Keywords: taco bowls, meal prep, chicken tinga, healthy taco bowls, healthy chicken tinga