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Monday, June 22, 2015

Burritos or Bust? Eating Mexican and Eating Healthy

Burritos are one of America’s favorite foods and are part of our Mexican-American heritage. So popular, we spend $39 billion a year at 54,000 Mexican restaurants (2). The style of food is served in multiple venues like fast-food or gourmet. One can order a burrito with almost anything on it, making it versatile for different palates. Buyers beware as most restaurants serve their tasty burritos loaded with calories and saturated fat.

The typical burrito contains rice, beans, meat and sour cream that calculates to over 1,000 calories and 14-18 grams of saturated fat(2). A vegetarian one I tried a few months ago had over 1200 calories. With such high calorie and saturated fat count, fitness minded people should concern themselves with the type and kind of burrito they are ordering.

Last weekend I went out to eat with family and friends to a local Mexican establishment known for its vegan and vegetarian options. My eating habits are not vegetarian or vegan by nature, but I do believe in limiting meat consumption while increasing vegetable and fruit intake. Burritos can be tough in finding the right balance.

As everyone ordered their choice of a burrito at Rancho Cocinas in North Park, I went with a healthy burrito selection. It was made of black bean, vegetarian, little cheese, and lettuce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. The massive burrito was less than 600 calories. That is up to half the calories of the large standard burrito.

I have always had this impression that great taste and health food simply don’t go well together. In this case, I was wrong. After sharing pieces of our burritos, it was unanimous at our table that the healthy wrap burrito was the best tasting. This shows it is possible to eat out while still maintaining your fitness goals. Simply choosing the best alternative can make a large difference between in meeting your goals or falling back into bad habits.

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