Saturday, October 16, 2010

Q & A: Healthy Mexican Food Choices

This week, I received the following question from FOODPICKER.ORG:

“I have type 2 diabetes and love Mexican food. Could you give me some tips on what to order at my favorite Mexican restaurant?”

-Alan V.

The irony of this question, Alan, is that I am chomping on a homemade “burrito bowl” as we speak. Let me tell you, it is delicious. Let's talk Mexican!

Mexican food actually can be quite healthy. The traditional dishes are based on a trifecta of mouth-watering meats, vibrant veggies, and buxom beans. Top all that off with a spritzle of spice and you’ve got yourself a Mexican feast that would make any tastebud sing.

Since the goal of Type II Diabetes is weight management, the trick is to know how to do some savvy menu navigation.

Healthy Mexican food is available, and you will find that it is often among the most flavorful choices! When ordering, try these tips:

• Order menu items
“a la carte.” By avoiding the beans and rice, you will save many unnecessary calories and fat
• If ordering a side of beans, ask for the whole beans, rather than refried. Refried beans are often prepared in lard.
• Instead of ground beef, try the chicken, pork, or vegetarian entrees.
• Avoid the taco salad. This seemingly healthy entrée is usually loaded with beef, sour cream, and cheese, and is served in a deep, fried shell. Calorie overload.
• If eating at a sit-down restaurant, ask for no chips to be brought to your table. (From personal experience: I have yet to sit at a table with tortilla chips and not house those babies)
• As a condiment, try ordering extra salsa, and skipping the sour cream.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for your meal with extra veggies! (Fajitas with extra peppers/onions, tacos with extra lettuce/tomato, etc) This will fill you up and give you a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants.
• Although avocado provides healthy fat, the portions provided are often massive. Ask for your guacamole on the side, so you can control how much you’d like.
• In general, avoid menu words such as “crispy, fried, refried, cheesy.”
• Instead, choose menu items that are baked, grilled, or use a soft tortilla.
• I have yet to meet a healthy chimichanga. My advice is to avoid.
• Mexican food portions can often be quite large. As soon as your food gets to the table, box up half to go. Out of sight, out of mind.

Hope these tips help, Alan! Hasta Manana!

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

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