By Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
Thinking about celebrating Cinco De Mayo with some great QC Mexican food? The Quad Cities has many great choices!
I love Mexican food, so I wanted to share my menu secrets that allow me to have a delicious meal without negating the work I did at the gym. I visited Los Agaves and enjoyed sitting outside on the patio with good company and great food.
Jeni’s 5 Tips to enjoy Mexican foods without the guilt:
1. Your Chips and Salsa Strategy: Small!
We are faced with temptation as soon as we sit down at a Mexican restaurant with the chips and salsa. Los Agaves has some amazing chips and salsa. I did not deprive myself, but I was mindful while eating chips and salsa before the meal. Every chip has about 1 gram of fat.
Tip: Ask for a small plate and put 5-10 chips (75-150 calories) on the plate to dip in salsa. Eat slowly and savor the taste of the delicious salsa.
2. Portion Control: Order off the lunch menu.
Lunch menus provide you with smaller portions. The more we are served, the more we tend to eat.
Some of the lunch specials at Los Agaves include a beef burrito with beans and rice (and they are always willing to make substitutions such as a bean burrito instead of beef) or one chile poblano served with beans and rice.
Los Agaves also has a grilled chicken salad (just ask for the salad dressing on the side and use sparingly), chicken and rice soup, and lunch fajitas.
What about refried beans? Refried beans are a good source of protein. A 1/2 cup refried beans has 150 calories, 2 grams fat, 7 grams protein. If the refried beans have cheese on top of them, then that will add calories/fat of course.
3. Order off the a la carte menu: Less excess food.
To avoid getting more food than you need, order a la carte. You can order one tostada, burrito, tamale, or taco. You can pair a la carte item with a tossed salad or guacamole salad.
4. Take half home: Ladle it into a take-home container before you start.
If you do order a platter-sized meal, ask for a take-home container when you order your meal. Put half of your meal in the container, close the lid, and save it for another day.
5. Beverage Strategies: Don’t ruin healthy food choices with bad choices from the beverage menu.
If you are watching your calories and added sugars, avoid regular soda pops, sweet tea, and sugary alcoholic beverages such as margaritas.
Margaritas are tasty but can be high in calories. Compare one margarita with 250 calories to a lite beer that has about 100 calories. Better yet, water has 0 calories.
Mexican food can be part of a healthy diet. Restaurants like Los Agaves have a variety of options on their menu to meet your nutritional needs. You just need a plan: think of ways to cut back on the portions set in front of you, eat slowly, and enjoy your meal!
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity and Two Rivers YMCA. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|