Few global cuisines are more festive and comforting than Mexican food, but navigating your way around a Mexican menu can be tricky. Many of the ingredients in Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican cuisine are healthy, but sometimes the preparation of certain dishes can really muck things up for those of us watching our figures. Read on for our handy guide on how to enjoy eating out at Mexican restaurants and still stay on track with your healthy eating habits.
The Four P’s
When scanning a menu, remember to follow the four P’s: look for items that are Protein-centered and Prepared as Plainly as Possible.
Best Mexican Menu Choices
Raw fish blanched in citrus juice is one of our favorites to enjoy on a warm day when sitting on the patio of a fun cantina. A great light appetizer with lots of vitamin C and protein, but be sure to skip the deep fried chips that usually comes with ceviche.
You can find these at almost any Tex-Mex place, including Chili”s. The fajita dishes at the national chain come in between 400-700 calories, which isn’t so bad, but you can improve that number by skipping the cheese, sour cream, and tortillas. Fajitas are a great way to get some protein and vegetables, and because everything is seasoned and sizzling, you don’t feel like you’re eating “diet food.”
Grilled Fish Tacos
These are usually made with white fish like cod, halibut, tilapia, or mahi-mahi, which are all lean and packed with protein. Make sure the fish is grilled, not fried, and ask for the sauce on the side, as fish tacos are usually topped with a creamy sauce.
If the idea of ordering health food while eating out is bumming you out, check the menu for mole. Moles are complex, delicious sauces made out of spices. They get their flavor from low-calorie ingredients like peppers and are usually served over chicken. You can find these traditional sauces in more authentic Mexican restaurants.
Don’t be afraid to order off-menu if the restaurant is flexible. Sometimes you can create a healthy dish by assembling a few sides. Consider ordering some chicken, a side of beans, salsa, and avocado and mixing it all together. It’s not pretty, but it’s delicious and has tons of fiber, healthy fat, and protein.
A Lighter Margarita
Don’t forget your margarita! Avoid the blended options as they are usually loaded with sugar. Instead, ask for a shot of your favorite tequila on the rocks with a splash of orange juice and one lime, sliced and on the side. When you get your drink, squeeze in the juice of the lime and enjoy your delicious light margarita.
Eating out at a Mexican restaurant can be fun, even if you’re watching what you eat. Just remember to look for the four P’s (protein-centered and prepared as cleanly as possible) and stick to your new healthy margarita option.