Healthy Mexican Options for Cinco de Mayo

Mexican Food Made Healthy! Tips for ordering healthy options at a Mexican restaurant and over 25 healthy Mexican recipes you can make at home

Mexican food! It’s delicious and everyone loves it, but it can be a tad difficult to keep things on the lighter side when dining at a Mexican restaurant. The typical scenario: you’re on your way to the restaurant and have all intentions of sticking with healthy options. Then you arrive, the server puts a sombrero on your head and your plan gets thrown out the window faster than you can say tamale!

Hello unlimited chips and salsa — can’t stop, won’t stop! Sure, I’ll have a margarita. And what the heck, why not get the Guadalajara Especial and then some fried ice cream to finish off the meal. You’re all fiesta, fiesta at the restaurant and end up leaving with a Mexican food baby, ready for a siesta. 😉

I know that example is a little over the top, but I also know that it happens. Light Mexican fare can be hard to come by. So in honor of Cinco de Mayo (next Tuesday!) I thought I’d share a few tips for navigating the menu at a Mexican restaurant AND a roundup of delicious and nutritious Mexican dishes that you can make at home.

How to Eat Healthy at a Mexican Restaurant:

  • Skip the chips — this one is so dang hard. But once you start munching on chips it’s really difficult to stop and often times you’ve eaten so many you’re too full to enjoy your meal.
  • Skip the margaritas and sangria — both are usually made with mixes and contain a shocking amount of calories and sugar. Lighter options include tequila with grapefruit juice and soda water or a light Mexican beer.
  • If you simply gotta have the chips or an adult beverage, here’s a good rule of thumb = pick one and enjoy it, just don’t do both.
  • Go with guacamole instead of queso — at least you’ll be loading up on healthy fats rather than processed cheese. Just watch your portions with the guac because one serving is only about 2 tablespoons.
  • Share a dish. Mexican restaurants usually serve massive portions. Order something you really want and spilt it with a friend. Bonus, you’ll save $ as well!
  • When looking at the menu, look for items that are baked, steamed, roasted or grilled and skip things that say fried (fritos), crispy, creamy or stuffed, covered or smothered. Chimichangas, taquitos, gorditas and tostadas are all fried. Enchiladas, burritos and tacos aren’t usually fried.
  • Ask for black beans as a side instead of refried beans.
  • Look for something with a grilled protein and lots of veggies — fajitas and salads fit the bill.
  • Keep it simple and stick with tacos. Grilled fish, shrimp or chicken tacos are great options. Pile on the lettuce, tomato and salsa and skimp on the cheese and sour cream.
  • Watch out for taco salads. They’re usually loaded with ground beef, cheese, sour cream and tortilla strips or served in a fried tortilla bowl. Ask for the salad without the tortilla strips and bowl, a grilled protein option, extra veggies, light cheese and pico de gallo or salsa for your dressing.
  • Even if you’re not gluten-free, opt for authentic corn tortillas over flour tortillas. They’re usually house-made and sans refined flour.

If you’re local to Richmond, our favorite Mexican spots are Tio Pablo (completely gluten-free and have awesome veggie tacos) and Pepe’s for authentic fare. We recently checked out Lalo’s Cocina and it was pretty good as well. I’d recommend the Avocado Shrimp Salad. We also really like Goatacado (my favorite food truck in RVA), Boka Tako and the fish tacos at The Daily.

Now onto the creations you can make at home from some of my favorite food bloggers! From tacos and drinks to dips and soups, these recipes are sure to satisfy your craving for Mexican in a healthy way. There’s a little something for everyone and as you’ll see many are vegan and gluten-free.

Plate with a cheesy Mexican quinoa casserole topped with jalapenos slices, avocado, and cilantro.

Quinoa Fiesta Bake (gf)

Black Bean Dip // (gf & vegan)

Black Bean Soup // (gf & vegan)

Corn Salsa // How Sweet Eats (gf & vegan)

Vegetarian Enchilada Bake // (gf option)

Sofritas // ( vegan & gf)

Mexican Sweet Potato Chicken Soup // (gf)

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail // (gf)

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken // The Fitnessista (gf)

Mexican Made Healthy // Clean Eating Fish Tacos

Grilled Fish Tacos//  (gf option)

Spaghetti Squash Taco Bake // (gf)

 Taco Zucchini Boats // (gf)

Turkey Taco Salad // (gf)

Tempeh Tacos // (vegan)

Chicken Fajita Salads // Lexi’s Clean Kitchen (gf)

Southwestern Breakfast // A Beautiful Mess (gf)

Skillet Mexican Zucchini // Skinny Taste (gf)

Hand dipping a chip into a bowl of frozen pea guacamole.

Healthy Guacamole (gf & vegan)

Shrimp and Mango Guacamole // The Healthy Maven (gf)

Pineapple Guacamole // Running to the Kitchen (gf & vegan option)

Veggie Mexican Wraps // Deliciously Ella (gf & vegan)

Avocado Bean Burgers // Hummusapien (gf & vegan)

Mexican Made Healthy // Deconstructed Guacamole Salad

Deconstructed Guacamole Salad (gf)

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos // Cookie and Kate (vegan & gf option)

Easy Homemade Tortilla Chips // Daily Bites Blog (gf & vegan)

Gimme Chimis // Plant Powered Kitchen (vegan & gf option)

Chicken Enchiladas // (gf)

Mexican Street Corn Salad // (gf)

Grain Free Taco Shells // Predominantly Paleo (gf & vegan)

Mexican Made Healthy // Skinny Paloma

Skinny Paloma (gf & vegan)

Chile Lime Mango Margaritas // Minimalist Baker (gf & vegan)

Raspberry Lime Margaritas // Nosh and Nourish (gf & vegan)

Healthy Baked Churro Donut Holes // Nutritionist in the Kitch (gf & vegan)

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    14 comments
    1. Home Page
      December 9, 2018 AT 4:23 pm

      This is a toppic that’s near to my heart… Many thanks!
      Exactly where are ypur contact details though?

    2. Roshani
      January 13, 2017 AT 6:28 am

      This looks great! Thanks for sharing it and the other recipes at the Pinterest Power Party – we’ll be featuring this in tomorrow’s party!

    3. Adam Bockler
      December 30, 2015 AT 6:55 pm

      Thanks for your advice about how to enjoy healthy Mexican food. I really like your suggestion about looking for something that has a grilled protein and lots of vegetables. Grilled vegetables can have a very rich and nuanced flavor. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m at a Mexican restaurant.

    4. Courtney Bentley
      May 5, 2015 AT 8:18 am

      My favorite mexican dish is fajitas loaded veggies like mushrooms, peppers, onions, jicama and topped with guacamole! YUM! Thanks for sharing all of these tips and awesome recipes xo C

    5. Alexis Joseph, MS, RD, LD
      May 3, 2015 AT 7:48 pm

      Thanks for the link love my dear!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 3, 2015 AT 9:43 pm

        Of course!

    6. michelle
      May 3, 2015 AT 2:48 pm

      We are having pot luck at work. Thank you for this….helps me alot on what to eat.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 3, 2015 AT 9:44 pm

        Oh fun! Enjoy!! 🙂

    7. Millie | Add A Little
      May 3, 2015 AT 3:32 am

      The grilled fish tacos look delicious!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 3, 2015 AT 9:45 pm

        Thanks Millie!

    8. GiGi Eats Celebrities
      May 2, 2015 AT 11:32 pm

      I would love to chow down on those paleo taco shells!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 3, 2015 AT 9:45 pm

        Don’t they look delicious!?!

    9. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul
      May 2, 2015 AT 7:08 pm

      Great healthy eating tips! And what delicious recipe roundups! Thanks for sharing!

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