When you think of Mexican cuisine, you probably don’t imagine a very healthy spread. Meals in Mexico tend to include bottomless bowls of chips and salsa followed by cheesy, sauce-drowned entrées, all topped off with a sugary margarita. However, that is not necessarily the way to eat a traditional Mexican meal. The truth is, a lot of Mexican cuisine starts out pretty good-for-you—it’s just all the unhealthy stuff we add in that ruins our diets.
While staying at Rancho La Puerta in Baja California, Mexico, I was able to eat some very tasty Mexican food without ever feeling the need to pass out in a food coma after lunch. Check out some of my tips for how to conquer an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet without destroying your diet.
Load Up Your Tacos
Isn’t it great to read the words “load up” in a health-conscious article? Stuffing your corn tortilla to the point of bursting can actually be a very diet-friendly move. The idea is to get two tacos’ worth of fixings into one tortilla so that you can save yourself the calories from the second tortilla. Now, this doesn’t mean you can go crazy with just any ingredients. Try to fill your taco with fresh vegetables, pico de gallo and a bit of beans. Traditional Mexican food does not have nearly as much cheese as the rest of North America seems to think. If you have some queso fresco, you can sprinkle just a little on top and get plenty of flavour with just a tiny bit of calories.
Drink Fresh Juice
Instead of ordering a beer, try a fresh jugo or even an agua fresca. These beverages are whipped up fresh daily. They are incredibly refreshing and carry a lot less calories than their alcoholic counterparts. If you are really looking to get a buzz, take your liquor straight, or mix it into a juice instead of the sugary margarita.
Swap Your Chips for Gazpacho
Appetizers are excellent, but those bottomless chips are not doing you any favours. Chips are loaded with sodium and empty calories and it can be incredibly difficult to practice self-control when it comes to deciding when you have had enough. Instead of filling up on chips, try ordering a cold gazpacho. Mexico is bursting with fresh fruits that blend into some pretty amazing cold soups. A nice gazpacho will whet your appetite without attacking your waistline.
Fish tacos, ceviche and grilled fish filets are the perfect dish for anyone who craves meat but doesn’t want to pack on the pounds. Even if you have never been big on fish dishes at home, you absolutely cannot miss out on the perfectly seasoned and prepared fish in Mexico.
Have Fruit for Dessert
Skip the churros and opt for fresh fruit. These fruits are likely to be three times as delicious and fresh as anything you find in the supermarkets at home. Plus, you can chow down on some produce that may be hard to find at home, or perhaps something you have yet to sample. Try some mango on a stick or a sweet mamey fruit. You can even toss in some yogurt or cream for an extra treat.
Mexican food does not have to be all about meat, cheese and grease. Try the lighter side of Mexico by sticking to freshly prepared fish, fruit and juices, and you are sure to be satisfied with your meal… and your post-trip body.