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Today is the day before my birthday and  my co-workers and staff decided we all needed a night out after a long and very stressful week. The issue when you have a GIANT group like ours (about 30 people) is that you can’t exactly frequent the little hole in the wall places with the best food, they just can’t fit everyone in there. So the destination of choice was a local mexican chain restaurant, pretty good service, but not exactly an abundance of healthy food on the menu.

Izzie spies a bouquet of balloons.

So here are the questions I always face as I enter these sort of social situations with limited food options; what are my choices, what is the best choice, and most importantly, what can I drink? Sometime I scrap eating all together and either eat prior or afterward but in this case I really didn’t have the time nor do we have much easy grab-and-go food in the house right now.

So I evaluated my choices;

Which is healthier? A beer or a margarita?

Now, I knew what I suspected was the healthier choice, I knew margarita’s were full of sugar and in addition tequila tends to make me dance on the table and then get a wicked hangover after spending the night belting mexican songs in bad Spanglish and playing a pretend ukelele.

So beer it was. I chose the Pacifico, a Mexican beer which is light but quite tasty and clocks in at 146 calories a bottle. To be more festive I had it in a glass with a salted rim. Yummy salt..I think that’s all I really like about the margarita anyway.

Here’s what I learned about the margarita..hold on to your sombrero’s. The average margarita has 740 calories and 56 grams of carbohydrates in one ten ounce glass. Are you kidding me!!! That is shocking! Considering most in our party had 2 or 3 I am surprised the table didn’t give under the avalanche of sugar.  I think I would rather do a shot of tequila and drink a glass of water with lime, no need for all those empty carbs.

Is that a drink or a giant wad of sugar?

Onto the food choices. We all know Mexican (or Americanized Mexican) is not the healthiest cuisine around. That being said, there are some truly great healthy choices…and some really unhealthy ones. Here are the things you should definitely NOT eat;

  • Nachos (giant plate of fat filled fried chips with beans cooked in fat, sour cream, cheese and meat (maybe some veggies). You might as well stuff it right in your arteries.
  • Chimichanga’s (fluffy tortilla wrapped burrito that is fried, soaks up oil like a sponge and isn’t even truly Mexican)
  • Buckets of chips (that’s really a no brainer) cooking them in fat)
  • Refried beans (healthy beans rendered useless by
  • Margarita’s or pina colada’s

Izzie is hiding from all the gluten.

Now, in addition to the regular nutrition challenges we also have the challenge of feeding our wheat/gluten/dairy free kid. Luckily the restaurant actually seemed to have a very good handle on what was and wasn’t gluten-free. We opted for steak fajita’s with corn tortilla’s and veggies and a side of guacamole. Corn tortilla’s have half as many calories and 2 times the fiber of flour tortilla’s so substitute them whenever possible.  Guacamole is full of healthy fats, just keep in mind that it still has quite a few calories so remember to use salsa as well to boost the flavor and cut the amount you are using.

My beautiful, healthy, gluten free girl.

There are other healthy choices to consider if you aren’t as limited as we are;

  • Tostada – good choice if you are craving chips. The corn tortilla is crispy but the size is small and that also limits the amount of toppings you can fit on it.
  • Enchilada’s – served without rice or sour cream and cheese these are a healthy, filling and tasty choice.
  • Ceviche – fish “cooked” in lime juice with veggies (usually at higher end cantina’s)
  • Pozole – a Mexican stew with hominy (corn grits) pork and chile’s. Lot’s of antioxidants and protein.
  • Mole sauce – a sauce made of peppers, spices and mexican chocolate. Full of flavor and very little fat.

Dancing after dinner.

It was a lovely night filled with friends and laughter. I am so lucky to work with such wonderful, caring, funny, wacky people. It makes it all worthwhile and reminds me why I brave the stress. We ambled home slowly, got caught up in the grooves of an outdoor blues concert, and tumbled home happy and satisfied.

Tomorrow is my birthday!!