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Healthy Menu Navigator: Mexican

What should you steer clear of besides the unlimited tortilla chips? Nutritionist Heather Bauer explains.
Chicken fajita (Photo:
Chicken fajitas without the tortillas are a good call, according to Bauer (Photo:


Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket, it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.

HealthyMenuNavigatorFinalEnter nutritionist-author Heather Bauer, of Bread is the Devil and Bestowed fame—and our culinary compass. Each week, Bauer steers us toward the healthiest choices on restaurant menus of any type.

Last week, it was Thai. This week, Mexican food! Buen provecho, everyone.

Heather Bauer’s Mexican menu navigational nugget

Always remember to get jícama instead of chips,” Bauer says. But if you can’t resist, have just one handful and let that be your carb for the meal. And go easy on the guacamole—even though avocado is a healthy fat, the calories can add up fast, Bauer warns. You should cap it at three, golfball-size spoonfuls. (Easier said than done, we know!)



1. Healthier jícama—many restaurants offer the root vegetable sliced and baked as an alternative to tortilla chips; others serve it crunchy and raw, or in a salad.

2. Ceviche, which is fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juice. “I love how clean ceviche feels,” Bauer says. “It tastes so healthy and good.”


1. Grilled chicken or shrimp fajitas with sautéed vegetables. Skip the tortilla, Bauer says.

2. Tacos, but with some serious caveats: If you decide to order them, make sure they’re made with corn tortillas, which have a “short-and-simple ingredient list, are gluten-free, and provide a bit of fiber and nutrients,” Bauer says.

3. Chicken or shrimp with a little salsa, avocado, and some beans.


1. Sour cream and cheese. Period, the end.

2. The Tex-Mex taco salad—it’s loaded with the aforementioned fat-heavy no-nos, plus the fried shell makes this a calorie bomb! A simpler, cleaner way of eating this common menu item is to get it without the dairy and ask for it in a real (i.e.: not edible) bowl.

3. Margaritas! Choose a light beer or tequila on the rocks with fresh lime instead. If you can’t stand to go marg-free, have one on the rocks (because frozen margaritas are mixed with a ton of sugar) and no salt (because it’s an appetite stimulant), Bauer says.

Hungry for more? Next week, Bauer’s spilling her secrets to ordering healthy BBQ. Or check out last week’s guide to ordering Thai.