I love Mexican food. I grew up with parents that also love Mexican food so I was hooked from the womb. Healthy In Chicago already talked about the so-called taco bell diet, but what about us who like a Chipolte fix or believe Trasca’s is one of the best spots in Lincoln Park? Mexican food in general can be fried, contain lard, topped with creams and cheeses, not food groups experts recommend due to the high levels of calories, sodium and saturated fats. Mexican food also can be fresh, with lots of veggies and very tasty. You have heard me say it before, but you can enjoy everything in moderation. However, if you Mexican food consumption may be more than moderation, here are some simple tips to keep your meal, and overall self healthier/leaner.
- Ask the waiter/waitress not to bring tortilla chips to the table. The temptation to munch will be non-existent
- If you order a taco salad, ask for it without the fried bowl
- Ask for low-fat sour cheese (many restaurants have it now) or for it on the side
- Ask for more Salsa. Salsa is a great low-fat food
- Veracruz or other tomato-based sauces are better than cream or cheese sauces.
- Watch what you drink. A margarita can have up to 300 calories and 20 grams of carbs. Frozen margarita and drinks generally are higher in calories than on the rocks.
The American Heart Association has put together a great chart that can help you keep the calories and fat down on your meal.
Instead of this Choose this
|Flour tortillas||Corn tortillas|
|Carnitas (fried beef or pork) or chorizo (sausage)||Grilled fish or chicken breast|
|Refried beans||Frijoles a la charra or borracho beans and Spanish rice|
|Full-fat sour cream and cheese||Salsa, pico de gallo, cilantro, jalapeno peppers|
|Quesadillas (flour or corn tortilla, filled with meat and cheese and fried)||Chicken fajitas (marinated chicken grilled with onions, green peppers, lettuce, diced tomatoes with a soft corn tortilla)|
|Chalupas and tacos||Taco salad or fajita salad (don’t eat the tortilla shell and ask for low-fat sour cream)|
|Flautas (crisp, rolled tortillas stuffed with shredded meat and topped with a sauce); chimichangas (flour tortillas filled with spicy meat and Monterey Jack cheese, fried and topped with tomato sauce); burritos (large flour tortillas filled with beans or meat, served with tomato sauce and topped with shredded cheese)||Chicken or beef enchiladas with red sauce or salsa|
Some healthier choices at our Chicago Mexican Food hot spots?
- Tarascas; fajita, honey chipotle chicken, seafood dinners
- Chipolte; salad, burrito bowl light on the rice, no sour cream, light on the cheese
- Carbon (300 W. 26th St); tequila-lime chicken breast, burrito bowls, caesar salad
- Adobo Grill; gluten-free options, seafood, chicken
- Cafe 28; chickens, seafood