Mexican food can certainly be one of the more challenging cuisines when eating out, as there aren't many low-fat items to choose from, and several dishes are full of fried foods. Add on calorie-filled margaritas and tortilla chips to start and you are already filling up on unneeded fat and calories before having even ordered your main course.
Dishes at Mexican restaurants are usually on the larger side with the addition of rice and beans accompanying the meal. To help prevent overeating, I would first suggest ordering a house salad, which should entail tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and some avocado for your healthy fat. This starter salad will also help in the avoidance of eating the full entree when it arrives or you can ask for half the portion to be put in a to-go container.
Some terms that you should look to avoid on the menu are: fried, crispy, refried, breaded and cheese. Instead look for items that are baked or grilled and request sauces on the side so you can control the amount on your food.
Avoid sour cream or any additional toppings that will add to a higher and unhealthy caloric intake, but feel free to include fresh salsa, as this provides a great boost of vegetables with vitamins and minerals.
Mexican entree recommendations and tips:
1. Fajitas - These are a great option, as the dish comes freshly grilled with toppings and tortillas on the side. This is the perfect opportunity to be in full control as you build your meal. My recommendation is to ditch the tortillas and eat the fajitas as is with some salsa and light guacamole topping.
2. Burrito - This loaded meal can be healthy with a few revisions. Try ordering, as many restaurants term, a burrito bowl or naked burrito, which means no tortilla. Also, specify no cheese, no sour cream, and request the guacamole on the side. As a finishing touch you can replace the rice with lettuce or include brown rice as opposed to white or Mexican rice.
3. Grilled Proteins - For any entree choice choose grilled chicken, fish, or lean meat as these are excellent sources of protein, which help to keep you feeling full longer.
4. Tortillas - When including tortillas in your meal, choose corn or whole-wheat over flour tortillas, as they have less calories and fat and are higher in fiber.
Stay tuned next week as the How to Dine Out Series continues with How to Dine out: Thai.
Reprinted with permission from Dietsinreview