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HG's Mexican Food Survival Strategies

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02.19.14
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Hi Hungry Girl,

Long-time subscriber, first-time question! My friends and I hit up Taco Tuesdays on the regular, and I'm sure I could be making better choices. What do you suggest?

Mindy Loves Mexican Food

Hi Mindy,

Healthiest Mexican Food Menu Items

Glad to have you as a subscriber! Mexican restaurants have lots of great options. In fact, they're some of the easiest places to enjoy a guilt-free meal. Check it out…

Starters. Okay, whatever you do, don't indulge in that basket of chips and salsa! You can easily take in 500 carby calories before your meal even arrives. If your dining mates don't mind, ask the waiter to skip the chips. Want a much better appetizer? Ceviche, if they have it. It's generally just fresh seafood in citrus juice with veggies and herbs. Light, filling, and delicious!

Ensalada. That's Spanish for salad, and there's usually at least one on the menu. If it's a tostada/taco salad, request it on a plate instead of inside a fried tortilla shell. Get it topped with grilled chicken or shrimp (cooked with just a little oil, if possible). Skip the cheese and tortilla strips, but enjoy the black beans, corn, and veggies. Instead of salad dressing, I like salsa or pico de gallo. YUM!

Fajitas. Choose the chicken and/or shrimp and ask (nicely) if it can be prepared with just a small amount of oil. When it comes to sides, ask for black beans instead of refried beans (which sometimes contain lots of hidden fat!), and say no to the rice, sour cream, and cheese. Stuff two small corn tortillas to the brim, and eat the rest of the veggies and protein on the side...

Ay, caramba! Avoid the following, at all costs: cheese-smothered dishes, huge frozen margaritas, all the "angas" and "adas" (chimichangas, enchiladas, empanadas, etc.). Who needs 'em?

The guacamole 411. It is made from avocados, which are very healthy, but that doesn't mean you should go overboard with it. Stick to a couple of spoonfuls on your meal -- plenty of flavor in that!

Double-stuff tacos. One of my favorite Mexican food tricks is to order two tacos (without cheese), and then transfer the insides of one into the other, so I'm left with one GIANT taco!

Margarita makeover. Sure, half of the fun of Taco Tuesday can be the margaritas, but even one small margarita can easily pack 350 calories! Instead, sneak in a packet of sugar-free lemonade drink mix (I like True Lemonade and Crystal Light). Then order a tequila and water or club soda (not tonic, which has calories!) with a lime wedge. When it arrives, stir in some drink mix to taste. Instant guilt-free margarita! And remember to drink a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage -- that might help keep you from reaching for those chips.

Host your own fiesta! Here at HG, we've been whipping up no-guilt Mexican food for ages. Pick your favorite HG recipes (taquitos! enchiladas! tacos! margaritas!), or get a whole lineup from the "To the Mex!" episode of Hungry Girl. You can also DIY with a few key ingredients. Snag some shredded reduced-fat cheese, high-fiber flour tortillas with 100 calories or less (like the kinds from La Tortilla Factory) or small corn tortillas, light or fat-free sour cream, and lean protein like skinless chicken breast or extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less). And for a fresh take on salsa that also saves on sodium, choose fresh pico de gallo or chop up your own tomatoes and onions. Click for more tips and picks!

There you go... Lots of ways to get your Mexican food fix without the guilt!

Click "Send to a Friend," and share today's email with all the Mexican food lovers in your life!

CHEW ON THIS:

Back on February 5, 2009, we took our very first crack at guilt-free crock-pot recipes... Look at how far we've come!

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