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Salsa is a low-calorie condiment, but skip the tortilla chips served with it.
From calorie-laden margaritas to high-fat sour cream, Mexican menus are rife with potential for dietary missteps. Following some basic guidelines can help you cut down on calories; for example, order an appetizer rather than a full-sized entrГ©e, or ask for half of your meal to be wrapped up before it's served to you. To further combat dietary damage, learn which Mexican dishes -- from appetizers to the cocktail menu -- are lower in calories, making them an ideal indulgence in moderation.
Your first battle occurs right as you sit down at the table at your favorite Mexican restaurant and the server offers complimentary, bottomless chips and salsa. Although salsa can be high in sodium, it's a good choice, calorie-wise, with just 10 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. The real problem is the deep-fried tortilla chips, which have 139 calories per ounce. Ask the server to hold off on the chips and salsa, and instead order ceviche, which is citrus-marinated raw fish, or gazpacho, a healthy, cold vegetable soup.
When choosing a low-calorie Mexican entrГ©e, look for items prepared in a healthful manner, such as grilled, sautГ©ed or baked, rather than deep-fried or braised. Fajitas or tacos that have grilled shrimp, black beans, fish or chicken fillings are a better option than fried fish or higher-calorie beef options. Focus on consuming the protein and vegetable fillings rather than high-calorie tortillas. Watch out for the condiments that typically arrive with your dish, including cheese, sour cream and guacamole, all of which can boost a healthy entrГ©e's calorie content tremendously.
Typical Mexican entrees come with a side of rice and beans, sometimes listed as arroz con frijoles, which can have 700 calories, according to the USDA Nutrient Database. To reduce the caloric content of your side dishes, ask for pinto or black beans instead of refried beans, which have a higher fat content, and skip the rice.
A frosty margarita might seem like the perfect companion to Mexican food, but it can easily have more than 500 calories, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you want to spend some of your calories on an alcoholic beverage, instead choose a Mexican or Spanish red wine or a light Mexican beer, such as Corona Light, with a wedge of lime. One Corona Light has 109 calories, according to RealBeer.com; the higher-calorie Mexican beer Dos Equis and regular Corona has 145 calorie and 148 calories, respectively.