Healthy Mexican Recipes

Mexican food made healthy! I’m sharing tips for ordering healthy options at a Mexican restaurant and over 25 healthy 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. 😉

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

How to Eat Healthy at a Mexican Restaurant:

Here are some of my best tips for eating healthy when out 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. You can also ask if they can make you a skinny margarita.
  • 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).

25+ Healthy Mexican Recipes to Make at Home

Now on to the Mexican creations you can make at home from EBF and 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.

Quinoa Fiesta Bake — This Mexican quinoa casserole is not only packed with veggies and black beans, but is bursting with traditional Mexican flavors that the whole family will love. Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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

Chicken Enchiladas — These healthy chicken enchiladas are packed with flavor and nutritious ingredients! The homemade enchilada sauce is the star of this recipe.

Two chicken enchiladas on a plate topped with cheese and cilantro with a fork on the plate.

Spaghetti Squash Taco Bake — This spaghetti squash taco bake combines low-carb spaghetti squash with ground turkey, taco seasoning, salsa and cheese for a delicious, healthy and easy dinner.

Bowl full of cheesy spaghetti squash taco bake topped with sour cream, tomatoes, jalapeños, green onions and cilantro.

Turkey Taco Salad — This healthy taco salad is made with turkey taco meat instead of beef, packed with veggies and topped with a creamy southwest dressing. Gluten-free.

This healthy taco salad is made with ground turkey taco meat instead of beef and is packed with veggies. It comes together quickly making it perfect for a weeknight meal.

Healthy Guacamole — This healthy guacamole with frozen peas is lower in fat and calories, but tastes just as delicious as the real deal. The peas add a subtle sweetness and give the guac a vibrant green color! Gluten-free + vegan.

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

Mexican Street Corn Salad — An easy lightened-up Mexican street corn salad that can be made with fresh or frozen corn. This salad is creamy, delicious and perfect for summer cookouts. Gluten-free.

Close up photo of a white bowl and gold fork with a Mexican street corn and kale grilled chicken salad. The salad is topped with slices of avocado. Ingredients in the salad are sprinkled on the table.

Avocado Salad — This healthy avocado salad is like deconstructed guacamole with avocado, tomatoes and a lime dressing. Serve as a healthy side or top with grilled protein for a meal-sized salad. Gluten-free.

Serving bowl with avocado and tomato salad garnished with lime and cilantro. A spoon is in the bowl.

Sofritas — A delicious copycat recipe for Chipotle’s tofu sofritas that’s loaded with flavor and a hint of spice. It’s the perfect vegan protein option for homemade burrito bowls! Vegan + gluten-free.

Sofritas in a skillet with a spoon.

Fajita Soup — This slow cooker fajita soup makes for a comforting and healthy meal that’s packed with flavor and a hint of spice. It can be made in your slow cooker or Instant Pot! Gluten-free.

Bowl of chicken tortilla soup topped with jalapeños, lime, avocado and tortilla chips.

Tempeh Tacos — These easy tempeh tacos are loaded with Mexican flavor! Create a taco bar and let everyone load up the tacos with their favorite toppings. Vegan.

Three tempeh tacos with avocado and tomatillo dressing on a plate.

Skinny Paloma — This lightened up skinny Paloma is made with fresh grapefruit juice, tequila and lime juice. You can add a splash of sparkling water for a little bubbles. Vegan + gluten-free.

Paloma cocktail with ice and a lime wedge and a rim of salt.

Skinny Margarita — This skinny margarita is low in calories, sugar and carbs, but still absolutely delicious. It’s made with fresh juice and has no added sugar!

Glass of a skinny margarita with slices of lime and orange.

More Healthy Mexican Recipes:

I hope all these recipes and tips are helpful! I can’t wait to hear what Cinco De Mayo recipes you decide to make! 

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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!

Parchment paper lined with protein balls.

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