A low-calorie Mexican menu for a healthier Cinco de Mayo
You’re probably already daydreaming about margaritas and cheesy enchiladas in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo on Saturday. We’re right there with you. Unfortunately, we have to interrupt that daydream with a painful reminder: There’s a reason you transform into an unstoppable, ravenous animal when you walk into a Mexican restaurant — the popular menu items have enough calories and fat to feed a whole mariachi band, which is why they taste so damn delicious (the food, not the mariachi band).
This doesn’t mean you can’t throw on a sombrero and chow down on a burrito this Saturday. Instead of getting a table at your local Mexican joint, we recommend throwing your own fiesta at home. With these healthier Mexican recipes, you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo with fewer calories and less fat.
It’s not hard to pinpoint the calorie culprit in enchiladas: so much cheese! Livestrong estimated that a typical serving of traditional chicken enchiladas contains 498 calories and about 15.9 g of fat, including 9.4 g of saturated fat. And let’s not forget about the side of beans (that also have cheese on the top) and rice you’re probably planning on downing with it.
Thankfully, there is such a thing as a “skinny enchilada.” Skinnytaste.com’s chicken enchiladas contain only 159.5 calories and 5.9 g of fat. Click here for the recipe.
3 Fat Chicks even have a cheesy chicken enchilada recipe for the cheese-lovers out there who just can’t justify skimping on the queso. Click here for the recipe, which has 272 calories and 8 g of fat.
Quesadillas are like the pizza of Mexican cuisine: You can add whatever healthy toppings/fillings you want, but the cheese always pushes the calorie count over the top. A chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell contains 530 calories and 28 g of fat (including 12 g of saturated fat), according to CalorieKing.com. And if you think a “quesadilla salad” sounds healthier, think again. Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion salad, with dressing, has a staggering 1,400 calories and 89 g of fat!
You don’t have to sacrifice flavor for low-calorie quesadilla options. AllRecipes.com has a mouthwatering Farmers Market Vegetarian Quesadilla recipe that uses zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers and mushrooms, plus whole-wheat tortillas, with only 209 calories and 7.1 g of fat. Click here for the recipe.
If you’re a carnivore who craves more protein in your quesadilla, Food.com has an Ultimate Low-Fat Chicken Quesadilla recipe that contains only 272.7 calories and 9.5 g of fat. Click here for the recipe.
Tequila! You may love a good margarita, but don’t be fooled: That sucker is determined to ruin your diet with excessive calories, sugar and carbohydrates. If you want some proof, Applebee’s trademark Perfect Margarita clocks out at 243 calories, with 40 calories coming from carbohydrates, according to Livestrong. If you’re set on eating out on Saturday, look for a “Skinny Margarita” on the drink menu; Applebee’s at least has a SkinnyBee option with 100 calories.
It’s more fun to make your own margaritas at home anyway. Hungry Girl’s amazing low-calorie margarita only has 115 calories and less than 0.5 g sugar. Click here for the recipe.
Or, if you’re looking for a buzz with your burrito but don’t trust yourself with tequila, a Corona Light only contains 99 calories and 5 g of carbs. To find out how many calories and carbs are in other beers, check out the HellaWella Beeramid here.
Brace yourself: This might be the most upsetting news you’ve heard all week. One of those yummy Mexican Grilled Chicken Burritos from Chipotle contains about 1,179 calories, 7 g of fat, 125 g of carbs and 2,656 mg of sodium, according to Men’s Health. Even a vegetarian burrito can pose a risk to your waistline. SparkPeople.com estimated that a vegetarian burrito containing black beans, rice, cheese, guacamole and salsa contains roughly 1,120 calories and 42 g of fat. Yikes!
If you want to easily slash calories and carbs, nix the rice and tortilla and mix the other burrito ingredients in a bowl. For lower-calorie options that don’t forgo the tortillas, try Fitness Magazine’s Cheesy Steak Burrito, with 373 calories, 27 g of protein and 9 g of fat. Click here for the recipe.
Vegetarians can enjoy a crockpot vegetarian burrito with black beans, stewed tomatoes, corn and cheddar cheese for 307 calories from About.com’s Low Calorie Cooking section. Click here for the recipe.
Anything would taste wonderful if topped with sour cream, guacamole and cheese, which is why tortilla chips — already tasty by themselves — are 100 times better in nacho form. But all those toppings also mean excessive calories and fat. According to CalorieKing.com, Chili’s Classic Nachos (without meat) ring in at 1,440 calories and — wait for it — 97 g of fat!
The key to healthier nachos is less cheese and grease. Skip the ground beef and instead use turkey, like in Skinnytaste’s Skinny Loaded Nachos with Turkey, Beans and Cheese recipe, which contains 347 calories and 9.4 g of fat. Click here for the recipe.
For a new twist on nachos, try Happy Herbivore’s low-fat vegan nachos recipe, which uses cashews and grinds up a bunch of ingredients to basically make a no-cheese sauce for tortilla chips — get the whole-wheat or multigrain kind! Click here for the recipe.
If burritos and enchiladas aren’t really your style, make it a fajita fiesta! SparkPeople.com estimated that a typical serving of chicken fajitas contains about 438 calories and 9.1 g of fat. That’s with no sour cream, guacamole, beans or rice. You weren’t planning on eating any of those things, right?
Skip the restaurant fajitas and instead make your own with Taste of Home’s Busy Mom’s Chicken Fajitas Recipe, which contains 347 calories and 5 g of fat. We recommend using whole-wheat tortillas. Click here for the recipe.
For a vegetarian option, try Vegetarian Times’ vegetable fajitas with only 250 calories and 7 g of fat. Click here for the recipe.