How to Make Healthy Mexican Food

healthy-tacos-2

Happy Monday folks!

No need for any “I hate Monday memes” this week, I’m feeling a lot more chipper today.

Maybe that’s because here at LDLA it’s “Mexican Food Monday.”

If it’s not already apparent from the surplus of Mexican dishes featured here, I love Mexican food. I was raised in the Southwest, and it’s a staple in my diet.

Many people think Mexican food is unhealthy (thanks a lot, Taco Bell). In reality, it contains some of the most nutritious ingredients in our diet — heart healthy fat like avocado, lean protein like beans, antioxidant-packed veggies like tomatoes and complex carbohydrates like stone ground corn.

In honor of Mexico’s Independence Day tomorrow, I decided I’d share a roundup of my favorite healthy mexican dishes, Mexican restaurants in L.A. and some tips on how to makeover your Mexican meals — because although they can/should be healthy, that’s not always the case.

How to Make Healthy Mexican Food

healthy-tacos

 1. Choose Corn Tortillas vs. Flour.

corn-tortilla-vs-flour-tortillaIf you have the choice between corn and flour tortillas at a restaurant, go with the corn. Corn tortillas are usually less processed and a lot lower in calories. A corn tortilla is typically made with just ground corn, water  and maybe a trace of lime, while white flour tortillas are often made with bleached flour, vegetable oil/shortening and a ton of crap that I can’t pronounce.

If the restaurant has the option of a super clean wheat tortilla, that’s a great option, but it’s unlikely. Most whole wheat tortillas have the same stuff as the white, with half of the flour being whole wheat.

If you’re making your meal at home, here are two corn and whole wheat products I recommend:

Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas, “Taco Size” (Organic)

Food For Life Sprouted Whole Grain Tortilla

When in doubt, check the label. If there are more than 10 ingredients in a wheat tortilla or more than 4 or 5 in corn, pass.

 2. Choose lean protein.

avocado-flax-fish-tacos

I recommend picking lean proteins like chicken breast, shrimp, fish or even just lentils and black beans over fattier options like carne asada or meat from other parts of the chicken.

3. When dining out, check for hidden ingredients.

It remains mind-boggling to me, but some restaurants choose to destroy the integrity of fresh, whole ingredients by adding junk to many dishes.

This includes: adding lard to baked beans, stirring sour cream into guacamole and putting “creama” in corn. They also tend to fry your meat and veggies in low-quality vegetable oil.

Ask about dishes before you order. In the case of the meat and veggies, ask if they can use coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, “light oil” or simply steam the dish.

My Favorite Mexican Dishes

Mexican “Baked” Sweet Potato (this one is a Meatless Monday fav too):

mexican-baked-sweet-potato

Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers:

southwest-stuffed-bell-peppers-full

Mexican Pizza:

Mexican Pizza

Favorite Healthy Mexican Restaurants in LA

Gracias Madre in WeHo for delicious vegan, Mexican food.

gracias-madre-el-plato

Tortilla Republic in WeHo for their healthy and affordable Skinny Tacos – only $7.50.

Escuela Taqueria on Beverly for their amazing guacamole (ask for jicama instead of chips) and tasty shrimp tacos. It’s also BYOB, heyo!

Have a happy, healthy week everyone!

Weigh in: What’s your favorite Mexican dish? Do you know of any other sneaky techniques Mexican restaurants use to “fat-ify” their dishes?

Comments

  1. I grew up in south Texas so Mexican food was definitely a staple part of my diet, and it’s really hard to find good Mexican food in London. I got one of my bridesmaids to bring some bean and cheese tacos when she came to Seattle for the wedding for me!!

    Love your healthy southwest bell peppers!!

  2. Love this post, Whitney…almost as much as I love Mexican food itself :)! As cliche as it sounds, I’m a big fan of Chipotle and tend to get the Burrito bowl. I prefer the toppings to the rice so tend to skip out on the latter to make room for extra guac/beans. As a non-pork eater, I was a bit bummed when I found out that they cook their pinto beans with bacon.
    Khushboo recently posted…Socca FlatbreadMy Profile

  3. Bar Amá in downtown LA is my favorite spit, although its technically tex-mex. They had a jicama salad that was amazing. And on the nonhealthy side, my personal opinion is that NOT taking a small bite or two of the queso will kill you;)
    Just don’t eat the whole bowl, that might be dangerous…
    Ellen recently posted…shake it, get down, and misinterpretation. and a shake.My Profile

  4. I love burritos, tacos and quesadillas- so yummy! There’s a burrito place near me that adds cheesy tortilla chips to your burritos. WHY?!?! I have no idea. [end of mini rant]
    GiselleR @ Diary of an ExSloth recently posted…8 Grocery Shopping Mistakes (almost) all Students MakeMy Profile

  5. Great post! Mexican inspired meals can actually be very healthy. Thanks for sharing!
    Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment recently posted…Easy Dinner SaladsMy Profile

  6. Patti Cakes says:

    These look yummy and creative! Will definitely indulge in one or two of them!

  7. I could eat meixcan food everyday! I prefer to make my own but I was hocked when I learned how much butter is used in fajitas. Really? Why? It’s not necessary! Also annoyed when guacamole has more filler/sour cream than avocado.

    Your recipes look delicious! Vegetarian fajitas with are my favorite dish.
    jill conyers recently posted…#dailyMNB Instagram Challenge Link-UpMy Profile

  8. I think that our Mexican dinner tonight was pretty healthy – corn tortillas, chicken, kidney beans, salsa and some cheese (gotta have some dairy!!).
    Kim recently posted…Knowing When to Say WhenMy Profile

  9. Yum love making my own Mexican food and we have lots of the same loves. Too bad you live on the other side of the country because we’d have so much fun cooking together 🙂
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Veggie Breakfast Casserole (good enough to fool a meat eater)My Profile

  10. This all looks soo good! (Your photos are great) And yeah- those hidden ingredients are the worst thing, and nobody ever thinks to check. (Living most my life in the Northeast, I’ve been told i don’t know real Mexican food. probably true:) )
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…The Problem with Exercise LingoMy Profile

  11. I am embarrassed by what Australia provides as Mexican cuisine- it is nothing on you guys! Mexican is delicious and can definitely be healthy- Let me put those restaurant recommendations down!
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…cold pizza for breakfastMy Profile

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. […] Read on for more tips to making Healthy Mexican Food >> […]

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge