I’ve never had a burrito.
I’ve eaten lots of enchiladas, which, according to the internet, is basically a burrito smothered in a red or green enchilada sauce.
I’ve had my share of tacos – there was a supermarket deli counter that had a Dollar Taco Tuesday special when I was a new working person looking for cheap lunches.
I’ve never eaten at any of the ‘family’ Mexican / Tex-Mex restaurants, or chains that are now popular in the U.S. We always managed to find small, family run places that served authentic Mexican food tucked in odd corners. Even when we lived in Ireland we found a great Mexican restaurant, although to cater to the locals they served potatoes with everything….
Sadly, I have not seen a Mexican restaurant here in France, although I’m sure there must be a few somewhere. There was a Tex-Mex Pizza restaurant near our last house if that counts…..
I’ve never thought of Mexican or Tex-Mex food as being particularly healthy or unhealthy but, like anything else, it’s all about what goes in it or on it.
The author of this article has some tips on keeping your next foray into the spicy cuisine a bit on the lighter side.
Healthy Burrito Options When Dining Out
There’s no doubt that Tex-Mex cuisine has risen in popularity over the years. While the origin of this cuisine has Mexican roots, many restaurants begin with the basic ingredients like a tortilla, beans, and rice, and infuse it with a variety of flavors and ingredients.
There are plenty of Tex-Mex restaurants available across the US, from well-known ones like Chipotle and Taco Bell, to city-specific chains that abound. For example, while redeeming a Steel Cactus e-gift card in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, I noticed that this restaurant offers unique combinations of tacos, burritos, and other fare.
While trying to decide on what burrito to order, it got me thinking how far the menus have come from the simplistic beef and cheese variety I remembered eating as a kid.
If you’re in the mood for a delicious burrito but are trying to stick to healthier eating habits, you’re in luck—you can order and enjoy a burrito at many restaurants that’s big on taste and less on calories.
- Tortillas: Swap out the typical flour tortillas and instead opt for the whole wheat variety.
- Beans: Shy away from refried beans and instead use pinto or black beans.
- Rice: While higher in calories, ask if the restaurant offers quinoa instead. It’s packed with a ton of protein and fiber. Or skip the starch all together as it will leave more room for wholesome fillings.
What To Fill It With
The list of possibilities is endless. But here are some choices that can really make for an interesting burrito:
The important thing to remember here is to keep the protein lean so it can fill you up.
- Shredded or grilled chicken
- Soyrizo (Chorizo substitute)
- Ground turkey
- Flank Steak
The beauty of vegetables is that you can add as many as you want. Vegetables are typically under 100 calories per serving, and add wonderful flavor and texture to your meal.
- Green, red, or yellow bell peppers
- Onions or shallots
- Sweet potatoes
- Lettuce or spinach
- Butternut squash
If you can, stick to low-fat or fat-free creams and cheeses. If that’s not an option, just be sure to limit the amount you put into your burrito.
- Hot sauce
- Salsa or Pico de Gallo
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges
- Shredded cheese
As you can see, there are plenty of fixings you request. However, many restaurants already offer burrito combinations on the menu that are under 600 calories. Take a look at this list of popular restaurants and their burrito options:
- Bean Burrito
- Beefy 5-Layer Burrito
- Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito
- Shredded Chicken Burrito
- 7-Layer Burrito
- Burrito Supreme
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Moe’s lets you build your own burrito with the Homewrecker of Joy Bag of Donuts burrito options. If you’re cutting calories, opt for the Joey Bag of Donuts in a Junior Size. Use Moe’s helpful online nutrition tool that lets you customize your burrito ahead of time and see how many calories are in the ingredients you are choosing.
Chipotle lets you fill up your burrito with exactly what you want. However, a word of caution: Upon looking into the nutritional information at Chipotle, it looks like the flour tortilla alone is 320 calories. Be sure to add other ingredients wisely. While that guacamole may sound tempting, it alone adds 230 calories to your burrito. Just like Moe’s Southwest Grill, Chipotle offers a nutrition calculator on their website to help you make the best decisions when making your burrito.
- 2 Original Chicken Rollers
- Bean & Cheese Burrito
- 8-Layer Veggie Burrito
- Jacked Up Value Bean Rice & Cheese Burrito
- Beyond 8-Layer Burrito
- Del Combo Burrito
In short, if you find yourself at a Tex-Mex restaurant for lunch or dinner, you can stay on track with your eating goals when you opt for lean proteins, a large helping of vegetables, and keep the creamy toppings to a minimum.