Friday, October 28, 2011

Healthy Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salad

We absolutely love Cafe Rio! My all time favorite is the Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salad. Every time we go to Cafe Rio I tell myself to branch out and try something else on their menu, but I can never bring myself to do it. I love the salad tooo much! So my first mission was to recreate my favorite salad at home. I tried SEVERAL Cafe Rio copycats recipes and FINALLY found one that was spot on. Everyone I make it for loves it. My second mission was to recreate it and make it healthier without sacrificing the flavor. Mission accomplished... It was delicious! My husband and I were fighting over the left overs the next day!

 Healthy Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salad
Sweet Barbacoa Pork
2 pounds boneless pork roast
  1 can (12 oz) zevia natural diet cola (found at health food stores)
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 (10oz) can red enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso brand, medium spiciness)
1/2 cup sucanat or brown sugar (or more if you don't care about the extra calories)
1/4 cup stevia (leave out if you add extra sucanat/brown sugar)

  Put pork, 1/2 can of zevia cola, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily. Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork.

In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can zevia cola, chilies, enchilada sauce, sucanat (or brown sugar), and stevia. (You can add more sweetener if you want it sweeter.)

Put shredded pork and sauce in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours.

Healthy Cilantro-Lime Rice:
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 teaspoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  2 cups chicken broth
 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  1 teaspoon stevia
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro


In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low about 50 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, stevia and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Black Beans:
 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large ripe tomato, pureed (1 cup)
1 teaspoon salt

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato puree, and salt. Let simmer about 10 minutes.

Healthy Cilantro Ranch Dressing:
1 cup yogurt ranch dressing (found in refrigerator section by produce)
2 tablespoons salsa verde
1/4 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 small garlic clove
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 jalapeno (seeds removed if you don't like it spicy)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender.
(Don't be scared of the yogurt ranch dressing. My husband who swears by Hidden Valley Ranch really liked it!)
Serve with:
Romaine lettuce
Sour cream or Greek yogurt
Cheddar cheese
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Salsa or pico de gallo
Wheat tortillas

Recipe inspired by: Favorite Family Recipes


  1. Made this for dinner tonight and it was a HUGE hit! I have made a few Cafe Rio copycats before, but this one was by far the best! Thanks for the great recipe!! :)

  2. Good, I am glad you liked it! It is one of our favorites and the best part it is a healthier guilt free version!


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