As soon as a friend suggests going out to dinner for Mexican food, I immediately get excited but also assume that it will have to be my “cheat day.”
Margaritas are my favorite alcoholic drink, and who does not love a big, cheesy burrito? While frozen margarita, chips, and quesadillas may be tempting, there are ways to enjoy a Mexican dinner without breaking your calorie bank. Here are some tips on making smart choices at a Mexican restaurant without derailing your diet.
1. Skip the frozen margarita. One margarita can cost you 500 calories and 100 grams of sugar. Most of us do not order just one, so you could reach your daily calorie limit just from drinking. Save yourself hundreds of calories by ordering a “Skinny Margarita” with silver Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a splash of Cointreau. A light beer is also a good substitute and will only cost you about 100-130 calories.
2. Enjoy guacamole and salsa sans chips. It can be easy to finish an entire bowl of tortilla chips before your meal comes out. One bowl of chips can cost you 400-500 calories and has no nutritional value. To avoid the temptation, tell your server not to bring the chips to the table. Enjoy the guacamole with your spoon for a healthy appetizer that contains a good source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and fiber.
3. Choose your salad wisely. Ordering a Mexican salad may automatically seem like the healthy choice, but many salads can be worse than eating a burrito. If the salad comes in a deep-fried taco bowl, skip eating the shell that will cost you 400 calories. To save even more calories and fat, try using salsa as a dressing, and order your salad sans cheese and sour cream. Ask your server for extra vegetables, and black beans which are both loaded with fiber to feel extra satisfied.
4. Avoid flour tortillas. Many Mexican entrees are made with tortillas which can deliver nearly a meal’s worth of calories on their own, and they are made of refined white flour. Chicken fajitas are a great healthy option and good course of protein, but be sure to skip the wraps. Enjoy the chicken with plenty of grilled onions and peppers, and ask for a side of brown rice instead of yellow rice. If you are a burrito or quesadilla lover, focus on eating the insides to avoid the refined carbohydrates.
5. Share your meal. If you cannot resist tacos or a burrito, order just one entrée and split it with your dinner mate. The portion sizes are usually extensively large at Mexican restaurants, so you will save yourself half the calories without overdoing it. As a bonus, your dinner bill will also be half the price!