For Cinco di Mayo – Healthy Mexican Options When Dining Out

When one is making a concerted effort to eat healthier, whether it is to lose weight or simply improve their daily diet, it can be difficult to know which dishes to choose when dining out. Mexican food often served at North American restaurants is full of sodium, fat and calories, and it really pays to know what you are eating when you visit your local Mexican cantina.

One of the first mistakes folks make when entering a Mexican restaurant is to immediately order margaritas, fried tortilla chips, salsa and sour cream. Twelve chips with salsa add up to around 350 calories alone, and most large margaritas round off at over 400 calories each. If you skip the margaritas and sour cream, and enjoy a few chips with the fresh tomato salsa and perhaps a little fresh homemade guacamole you would be making a good first step. You might even ask for a couple of soft tortillas in place of the fried chips, and enjoy the soft tortillas filled with a little of the salsa and guacamole.

Other Tips For Eating Healthy When Dining Out Mexican

    • Skip over the quesadillas as an appetizer, which may contain over 1,000 calories each. Instead, look for ceviche, marinated fish appetizer, a shrimp cocktail or a cup of tortilla soup, which is broth-based and usually contains chicken breast and veggies.
    •  Black beans are an excellent choice for most any dieter. They are low in fat, high in protein and provide plenty of fiber. Refried beans are often prepared with lard, Mexican cheese blends, and even bacon, which quickly add up in calories and fat, so although you may initially think they sound like a healthy side dish, refried beans are best avoided.
    • Consider switching to bean burritos instead of beef or cheese burritos and you’ll be saving lots of extra calories and get in plenty of fiber as well. Corn tortillas instead of flour ones also add nutritional value to your dish.
    • Chicken fajitas, bean burritos, a grilled chicken dish with peppers and onions, or a soft taco are good choices. Simply skip adding cheese and sour cream and add shredded lettuce or veggies.
    • When dining out, it always pays to see what is available, as you may also be able to order low-fat cheese, brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas or sides of marinated vegetables in place of other calorie and fat laden sides.
    • Another healthy option is a chicken taco salad, but make sure you ask them to leave off the tortilla strips, fried taco shell, sour cream and dressing. Have the salad instead served on a plate, and consider using salsa and a little guacamole as your dressing. A squeeze of lime as well will add lots of flavor.
    • It is always best to avoid all fried options, as fried foods in general are not healthy because of the amount of fat they contain. Some Mexican dishes use lard or shortening, and although it enhances the flavor of the foods, lard and shortening are trans fats and are best avoided.
    • If you are craving meat or poultry items, choose ones that are grilled or roasted, and simply skip the rice and refried beans and request side dishes such as grilled vegetables, side salads, or seasoned black or pinto beans (not refried). Grilled seafood is always a great choice. Just keep it simple and fill up the rest of the plate with healthy grilled or roasted vegetables.
    • Skip cheese sauces, sour cream, or other fatty toppings, and instead use salsa, pico de gallo, jalapenos, lemons and limes as well as fresh cilantro liberally for flavoring.

Dining out at almost any restaurant can be accomplished without breaking your daily calorie bank, as there are always healthy options you can choose if you make a few simple substitutions. Let your server know your diet requirements before you order and they will often try their best to assist you in making healthy choices.

Some Healthy Mexican Options To Make @ Home


Blackened Fish Tacos With Chipotle Cream


Mexican Rice

Mango Margarita

Mexican Black Bean & Corn Salad

Chile con Queso

Tropical Papaya Salsa

Sofia’s Summer Salsa

Pico de Gallo

Artichoke Salsa

Deborah Mele

January 2012



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