Don't Mess Up On Mexican


Cactus Tacos

Mexican Food, or more accurately, the Tex-Mex that is common across most of the US is a minefield for a healthy eater.  Its fatty, salty, cheesy choices, with hidden fried elements and potentially slim vegetable pickings can make it a tough restaurant choice for a healthy lifestyle.  It is possible to come up with better selections, if one chooses carefully.

Actual Mexican cuisine is a bit healthier than what is commonly served in the US.  If an authentic taqueria is available in the area, adventuring there is well worth the effort.  The meats are beautifully seasoned, and served on whole-grain corn tortillas, with a light sprinkling of white cheese, onion, and cilantro.  Corn tortillas have half the fat of a flour tortilla, with twice the fiber, with a tiny fraction of the salt. 

Nutritionally, flour tortillas do have more protein than corn tortillas.  They also have more calcium and iron, but that is because of the enriched flour.  Cactus tacos, known as nopales, offer a light and mild flavor reminiscent of green pepper, and are a lower cholesterol choice.   Other choices are commonly available that can easily be carbohydrate free for the high-protein dieters, and seafood selections are lighter and flavored with citrus.

If the meal is to be at a more tame chain-style restaurant, there is still hope.  Choosing a light beer over a margarita saves more than 500 calories in one stroke, and avoiding the chips and salsa saves hundreds of calories as well.  Choosing a burrito bowl instead of wrapping it in a tortilla helps to reduce the carbohydrate load.

Avoid cheese queso.  Guacamole has more nutrient value, and can be mixed with salsa to reduce the calories even further.  Taco salads are a good choice if the fried bowl shells are avoided.

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