Today I'll show you how to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant because your favorite Mexican meal doesn't have to wreck your diet after all! With all of the chips, cheese, lard and oil, most Mexican meals are high in fat and calories. While Mexican restaurants are fast, cheap and tasty and an easy answer when asked, "What's for dinner?," they can really derail your healthy eating goals if you don't plan ahead. Instead of passing on the fiesta next time, here's how to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant.
1. Skip the Frozen Margarita
When asked how to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant, my first tip is to pass on the frozen margarita! Restaurant made margaritas are usually high in sugar, poor ingredients and calories. They can easily have up to 600 or more calories in only one drink! Instead of ordering a margarita made with a pre-made mix, either choose water with extra lemons and limes or if you still want a margarita, request that the bartender make you one out of clear tequila, soda water, lemons and limes - easy, healthier and delicious! Not to mention much, much lower in calories too!
2. Pass on the Chips
Generally, in only 4-6 chips (one ounce), there are approximately 140-150 calories, and who eats only four chips anyway? Most of us can usually eat four times that amount, easily adding 600 calories to your feast before you've even taken one bite of your meal! When it comes to the chips, either pass on them all together or if you just have to have them, ration your portion and set a number in your head before you even take that first bite. It might sound crazy, but it's so easy to sit there and mindlessly shovel down dozens of chips!
3. Choose Corn over Flour
When ordering something that includes tortillas, choose corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. Corn tortillas are much lower in calories and fat since flour tortillas are often made with lard. Corn tortillas are much smaller than most flour tortillas, automatically reducing portion sizes. Corn tortillas are also gluten-free for those of you that follow a gluten-free diet! Now, some restaurants even offer lettuce wraps instead of tortillas all together!
4. Choose Grilled Items
While it might not look fried, many options on a Mexican menu are served deep fried. Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats and are much higher in calories than the grilled alternative. Instead of fried quesadillas or cheese filled burritos, opt for the grilled fajitas instead. Veggie or chicken fajitas have all of the yummy ingredients that you want, prepared in a healthier way! Request the corn tortillas instead of the flour tortillas and you're doing even better!
5. Request Easy on the Oil, Cheese and Sour Cream
Most foods, even the healthier options like fajitas, are cooked in so much oil that your food comes out in an oil puddle. Request that the kitchen go easy on the oil to cut a couple of hundred calories right away! Most cooks are more than willing to cook in light oil, even steaming if need be. Another way to cut calories and fat is to ask the kitchen to go light on the cheese and sour cream too - omitting it if possible! Better options include salsa, cilantro and pico de gallo! Looking for a little bit of spice? Request a few fresh chopped jalapeños for a lot of spice for minimal calories!
6. Choose a Healthier Salad
When it comes to salads, Taco salads are one of the worst things that you can order on a Mexican menu. Served in a fried shell and loaded with cheese and sour cream, you'd be better off ordering your favorite non-salad alternative! If you still want the taco salad, request that the kitchen go light on the cheese, skip the sour cream and order the dressing on the side. Even better, ask that it be served in a regular dish instead of the fried taco shell to prevent you from even breaking off one bite of the high calorie shell!
7. Choose Black Beans Instead
Black beans are always the better option when making the decision between black beans or refried beans. Refried beans are often made with lard meaning it is very high in unhealthy fat, and not only that, they are high in sodium too! Black beans are a much healthier option since they are low in fat, high in fiber, high in protein and also high in vitamins and minerals as well!
Mexican restaurants can be deliciously healthy as long as you make the right choices! By following these easy tips, you no longer have to feel guilty when you leave your favorite Mexican hot spot! What are your favorite healthy Mexican dishes?