Mexican food that’s colorful, calorie-friendly and very flavorful. Get inspired with these healthy Mexican recipes.
Mexican food is delicious, flavorful and everyone loves it. Although there are a ton of options when it comes to healthy Mexican recipes, 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 feeling a little tipsy and ready for a siesta. 😉
Okay, that example is a little over the top, but I also know that it happens. Been there, done that!
But it doesn’t have to be. there are plenty of lightened up to choose from. 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 of the recipes are vegan and gluten-free.
Dips & Appetizers
5 from 2 votes
The best guacamole recipe made with avocado, grape tomatoes, garlic, red onion, jalapeño, fresh lime juice and cilantro. It comes together quickly and is the perfect appetizer with chips or topping for tacos, burritos and so much more.
This easy corn salsa tastes like Chipotle's corn salsa and comes together in a flash using a bag of frozen sweet yellow corn. It's delicious served as a snack with tortilla chips or as a topping on your favorite Mexican dish.
This black bean fiesta mason jar salad makes for a colorful, convenient meal that will satisfy your craving for Mexican food! The lime jalapeño dressing is zesty and really ties the whole salad together.
A creamy tomatillo avocado dressing that’s just like the Mexican Goddess dressing you can find at the Chopt Creative Salad Co. restaurant chain! It’s perfect as a dip, sauce or dressing. Vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly.
This chicken enchilada soup is packed with flavor and a hint of spice. It tastes just like traditional chicken enchiladas but with a fraction of the effort and can easily be made in your slow cooker, Instant Pot or over the stove top.
This hearty Mexican sweet potato chicken soup is loaded with veggies, lean protein and has a smoky, sweet flavor from dried guajillo Mexican peppers. Grain/gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and whole30 friendly.
This easy taco soup recipe combines all your favorite taco ingredients in one pot – ground turkey, beans, corn, tomatoes and taco seasoning. It's packed with flavor and a hint of spice and is perfect for meal prep.
This Red Chilaquiles recipe is a classic Mexican dish that combines crispy tortilla chips in a red tomato sauce topped with a fried egg. It comes together in under 30 minutes and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Last but not least, 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.
One 14-oz can black soybeans or black beansrinsed and drained
¼cupsliced green onion
1 ½cupsprepared salsamild, medium or hot
2cupsshredded Mexican cheese blend
2% Greek yogurtavocado, extra green onion and cilantro (for topping)
Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let the covered saucepan cool for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9″x 13″ dish and spread the sweet potato, bell pepper, and onion in the bottom. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the taco seasoning.
In a bowl combine the beans, cooked quinoa, green onion, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning; mix well.
Place the bean and quinoa mixture over the veggies in the baking dish. Spread salsa on top of the quinoa mixture. Top with cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Removed cover and bake for another 20 minutes or until cheese has melted, the sweet potatoes are cooked and everything is hot throughout.
Serve immediately topped with greek yogurt, avocado slices, green onion and cilantro if desired.
Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, holistic nutritionist, health coach and personal trainer. Whether it’s for my meal plans, my favorite recipes or just because you want to feel good, I’m so happy you’re here.
I loved that you said that you could consider tempeh tacos that are loaded with Mexican flavor. As you said, your favorite topping could be used to load them up. My husband and I are interested in eating at a Mexican restaurant with the kids for a bonding moment. Since we want something that everyone will enjoy, we will consider your tips.
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