Friday, April 30, 2010

Eating healthy at Mexican restaurants

Once in a while you go to Mexican restaurants.

The food is tasty, but very, I repeat, very fattening.

I have compiled the best tips from the net to have a healthy meal at a Mexican restaurant.  It’s a bit long, though I’ve shortened it as much as I can.

A soft taco is baked and a crunchy one is fried, so order a soft taco instead of a crunchy one

Use a teaspoon of salsa as a salad dressing or on tacos rather than the accompanying dips.

Skip refried beans; they could be fried in bacon fat or lard. Order non-refried beans, if they are available.

Ask for corn or whole wheat tortillas

Healthy dishes are:"chicken fajitas, bean burritos, a sautéed chicken dish with peppers and onions (hold the cheese!), or a soft taco".

You might be able to order brown rice, wheat tortillas n marinated veggies depending on the restaurant.

Some restaurants replace the sides that come with meals with a salad if you ask.

The sides alone (rice n beans, guacamole, and sour cream) contain 
Two thirds of a day's total fat allowed.

When ordering a salad as an entree, skip the crunchy taco bowl and order it on a plate instead, as the taco bowl is deep fried.

Healthy options include chicken fajitas, and also:
Grilled fish or chicken with tomatillo sauce or any non-cream sauce,
Jacamar salad with light vinaigrette

Have the pico de gallo (tomatoes and onions with hot peppers) that comes free with many dishes. If it doesn't, ask for some.

And the best - by far - are the fajitas . . . at least those of the chicken (and probably shrimp and vegetable) variety.

"Chicken fajitas are the only main dish we looked at that had less than 30 percent of calories from fat, not to mention just five percent of calories from saturated fat.”

The page also recommends the Macheesmo chain of hotels in Portland and Seatle for healthy Mexican dishes.

Healthier choices
Grilled chicken soft taco
Black beans
Shrimp ensalada
Grilled “fresco” style steak burrito
Veggie and bean burrito
Limiting sour cream or cheese

Avoid tortilla chips, they're full of fat. 

Avoid fried foods. These foods include tacos, chimichangas, etc. You can substitute for soft tacos, and baked quesadillas.

Mexican food tends to have big portions. You might like to cut the portions in half and put in a to go box.

Mexican desserts tend to be fried and topped with honey. Avoid these desserts. Try to find an alternative, instead of fried desserts get fruits.

Check out it lets you design your dish at Chipotle and tells you the calorie content.

I usually go with the fajitas too. 2 tortillas and lots of veggies and salsa - no rice (high cal and they always give you like 4 servings), no refried beans (generally made with lard), little guac and a smearing of sour cream. I usually get 3-4 meals out of one restaurant-sized serving. 

Ask for some unfried corn tortillas to eat with the salsa instead of fried tortilla chips.

Watch your cheese intake. Order fajitas instead of the higher calorie enchiladas

The majority of Mexican dessert choices are rich in fats and sugars, so avoid them and have an ice-cream on the way home.

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