Chips and guac, enchiladas oozing with cheese, tacos stuffed with all sorts of ingredients—yes, Mexican food has the power to tempt even the most diligent dieters. But while the plates at your local restaurant will probably undo your workout and the boxed stuff from the grocery store doesn’t do your body any favors either, homemade Mexican food—that’s healthy and delicious—is totally possible. A few smart substitutes is all it takes! And we’ve found the recipes that help you do just that. From shrimp tacos to vegan queso, this list is a mouth vacay waiting to happen. For more smart swaps and mouthwatering strategies, check out our exclusive guide, Eat This, Not That! for Mexican Food Lovers!
QUINOA TACO BOWLS
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 372 calories, 15.5 g fat (6 g saturated), 376 mg sodium, 42.7 g carbs, 9.5 g fiber, 1.7 g sugar, 17.4 g protein
Instead of a rice taco bowl, try substituting gluten-free quinoa instead. The grain’s belly-shrinking, health-boosting benefits date back to the early 16th century, when the Inca Empire referred to it as the mother grain. Aside from being rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fat, one cup of quinoa packs 58 percent of your daily recommendation for manganese, which boosts bone health and 30 percent for magnesium, a mineral that plays a role in healthy metabolism and protein synthesis. If you have some extra quinoa, use it up with these 15 Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Quinoa!
Get the recipe from Lemon Tree Dwelling.
CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN
Nutrition (per 4 oz serving): 278 calories, 15.4 g fat (3.3 g saturated), 98 mg sodium, <1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 33 g protein
This chicken dish will do more than transport your taste buds to Mexico. In fact, cilantro fights cellulite by removing heavy metals from the body that tend to hide in fat cells and cause puckered skin. And with 33 grams of muscle-building protein, your body will be a fat-burning, lean machine.
Get the recipe from Rasa Malaysia.
SKINNY MEXICAN PIZZA
Nutrition (per individual pizza): 315 calories, 10.8 g fat (2.6 g saturated), 269 mg sodium, 42.9 g carbs, 10.8 g fiber, 3.1 g sugar, 14.4 g protein (calculated without salt)
Taco Tuesday and pizza night combine to make the ultimate comfort meal—and this time you can consume an entire personal pizza and not unravel all your body goals.
Get the recipe from Snixy Kitchen.
LOADED GUACAMOLE SWEET POTATO FRIES
Nutrition (per ¾ cup serving): 232 calories, 13.8 g fat (2.6 g saturated), 31 mg sodium, 27.4 g carbs, 7.4 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 2.6 g protein
Not that you needed an excuse to dive into this one, but we’ve got a few. For starters, not all fries are a dietary disaster—this batch is made from the waist-whittling super spud that’s been known to aid weight loss, and it’s not even fried. The real deal-sealer here, though, is the guacamole topping. If you’re as addicted as us, you never shy away from avocado recipes for weight loss. No other fruit is credited with fighting hunger, boosting nutrient absorption, lowering cholesterol, squashing free-radicals, and spot-reducing belly fat. In fact, a study in the journal Diabetes Care found that a diet rich in monounsaturated fat may actually prevent body fat distribution around the belly by down-regulating the expression of certain fat genes.
Get the recipe from The Healthy Maven.
HEALTHY MEXICAN QUINOA AND TURKEY STUFFED PEPPERS
Nutrition (per ½ pepper serving): 197 calories, 6.4 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 159 mg sodium, 23.5 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 5.4 g sugar, 13 g protein
Substituting ground turkey for ground beef not only reduces cholesterol and saturated fat consumption but also lowers caloric intake while maintaining protein counts. Pair half a stuffed pepper with a tossed salad for an easy, guilt-free meal.
Get the recipe from Chef Savvy.
LOW CARB MEXICAN CHOCOLATE AVOCADO ICE CREAM
Nutrition (per 2/3 cup serving): 305 calories, 24.1 g fat (14.6 g saturated), 18 mg sodium, 20.7 g carbs, 4.8 g fiber, 14.7 g sugar, 2.8 g protein (calculated with organic dark chocolate)
Believe it or not, flavanols in chocolate have been found to actually lower blood sugar and decrease body fat, according to the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. And Maria-Paula Carrillo, M.S., R.D.N., L.D. claims that “a little sweet treat on occasion can help keep those cravings in check and allow you to follow your weight-loss or weight maintenance regimen.” This recipe is nutritionally dense, so even though it’s made with wholesome ingredients, a little bit goes a long way. Make sure to adhere to the serving size when incorporating it into your weekly cheat meals.
Get the recipe from All Day I Dream About Food.
CHICKEN TORTILLA LETTUCE WRAPS
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 342 calories, 14.6 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 285 mg sodium, 19.3 g carbs, 3.5 g fiber, 2.4 g sugar, 33.4 g protein
Lettuce wraps are an amazing way to enjoy your favorite meals on a reduced carb diet. This one packs chicken, tomato, bell pepper, corn, cilantro, black beans, avocado, cheddar and tortilla chips into a leaf of butter lettuce. Just be sure to opt for organic chicken. A recent study comparing it to conventional and antibiotic-free chicken found that inorganic arsenic concentrations were four times higher in conventional chicken meat than in USDA Organic chicken.
Get the recipe from Averie Cooks.
MEXICAN CORN ON THE COB
Nutrition (per ear of corn serving): 116 calories, 3.6 g fat (1.9 g saturated), 225 mg sodium, 15.8 g carbs, 2.2 g fiber, 3.2 g sugar, 7.5 g protein (calculated without salt)
Aside from being fun to eat and delicious, corn on the cob is full of carotenoids, which are responsible for the veggies' yellow pigment and act as antioxidants in the body. Carotenoids also help fight cancers, reduce inflammation, promote vision health, and boost immunity. That’s a lot of health benefits from one ear of corn!
Get the recipe from My Fussy Eater.
VEGAN CREAMY CHIPOTLE PASTA
Nutrition (per ½ cup serving): 209 calories, 8.4 g fat (3 g saturated), 16 mg sodium, 27.2 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1.3 g sugar, 7.3 g protein (calculated with whole grain spaghetti)
The hot chili pepper chipotle is a calorie scorching mecca, thanks to capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their steamy hot sensation. While it isn’t always combined in the healthiest recipes, it is here. This pasta contains six simple ingredients: water, almond milk, chipotle, garlic, and lemon juice.
Get the recipe from Dora’s Table.
MEXICAN CHICKEN SOUP WITH CHIPOTLE LIME CREMA
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 292 calories, 2.9 g fat (<1 g saturated), 51 mg sodium, 46 g carbs, 9.4 g fiber, 3.1 g sugar, 21 g protein
As temperatures continue to drop, nothing is more appealing than a steamy h bowl of soup. And this nutritional profile blows Campbell’s out of the water. Packed with belly-slimming fiber and satiating protein and low in sodium, you’ll be wiggling into those skinny jeans in no time!
Get the recipe from Yes to Yolks.
BREAKFAST BOWL WITH SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 239 calories, 13 g fat (3 g saturated), 270 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 11 g protein
What’s better than hash browns? Roasted butternut squash. Sky high in hunger-taming fiber, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids and low in calories, the gourd is a nutritional champion. And don’t even think about skimping on the yolks. Egg yolks contain a nutrient called choline that promotes the transportation of nutrients throughout the body, protects the liver, and fights belly flab.
Get the recipe from Skinny Taste.
MEXICAN VEGAN FALAFEL BITES
Nutrition (per 2 bite serving): 210 calories, 3.8 g fat (0 g saturated), 23 mg sodium, 35.2 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 6.4 g sugar, 10.8 g protein
These falafel bites are packed with fiber, protein, and lysine (an essential amino acid that repairs skin tissue and collagen). And they might just prevent you from overeating, too. In fact, a study published in the journal Obesity found that people who ate a single serving of chickpeas each day reported feeling 31 percent fuller than their bean-less counterparts.
Get the recipe from Cotter Crunch.
SPICY GRILLED SHRIMP TACOS
Nutrition (per 1 taco serving): 203 calories, 9.3 g fat (1.7 g saturated), 197 mg sodium, 18.6 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, 1.4 g sugar, 12.7 g protein (calculated without salt)
Sometimes, we need a little seafood in our tacos—and shrimp is a stellar choice. The fish is packed with selenium, an antioxidant mineral which plays a key role in healthy metabolism and the production of collagen. Plus, a single serving provides nearly 80 percent of your DV of vitamin B12, which boosts brain and nervous system function and assists in the metabolism of proteins and fats.
Get the recipe from The Healthy Maven.
HEALTHY MEXICAN SWEET POTATO SKINS
Nutrition (per sweet potato): 319 calories, 7 g fat (4.1 g saturated), 93 mg sodium, 52.6 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 3.9 g sugar, 13.3 g protein
One serving of these sweet potato skins dishes up 13 grams of satiety-boosting protein, 50 percent of the day’s belly-filling fiber, and 11 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, a nutrient that aids immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. Top it with
Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to minimize fat counts and other icky ingredients.
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
GUACAMOLE TURKEY BURGERS
Nutrition (per turkey burger, yields 3): 316 calories, 21 g fat (5 g saturated), 95 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 24 g protein
When you make protein a priority, you’ll stay fuller for longer, increase lean muscle mass, and boost your metabolism—but there’s only some much chicken you can eat. Try these turkey burgers instead, which are topped with flat-belly avocado and caloric-scorching chili powder.
Get the recipe from The Garlic Diaries.
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup serving): 75 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 233 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 5 g protein (calculated without salt)
Ditch the Tostitos and never look back! This recipe contains four real ingredients and uses cashews instead cheese. Thanks to its smooth and creamy texture when blended, the legume flawlessly replaces the processed stuff and brings a plethora of minerals that fight muscle cramps, insomnia, and constipation, as well as boost brain power and immunity. Pair it with healthy chips, veggies, or whole grain pita.
Get the recipe from Hummus Apien.
MEXICAN CAULIFLOWER RICE
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 122 calories, 6.9 g fat (1 g saturated), 71 mg sodium, 13.9 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 6.3 g sugar, 4.2 g protein (calculated with low sodium broth)
Cauliflower is “it girl” of veggies. Its universal appeal is what makes it steal the health foodie spotlight time and time again. From pizza crusts to rice, this cruciferous vegetable adapts to any surrounding ingredients and effortlessly improves nutritional profiles.
Get the recipe from Fashionable Foods.
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 348 calories, 5.1 g fat (1.1 g saturated), 186 mg sodium, 59.5 g carbs, 12.6 g fiber, 7.4 g sugar, 21.5 g protein
Chili is a dietary staple in the cooler months, but its rich and hearty flavor aren’t all it brings to the table. This pot is brimming with slimming ingredients. Kidney beans, for instance, contain resistant starch, which takes longer than other starches to break down because it literally resists digestion, keeping you fuller longer and preventing blood sugar spikes. And this recipe contains 30 ounces of the waist shrinking bullets!
Get the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.
CHICKEN ENCHILADA ROLL UPS
Nutrition (per 3-4 roll up serving): 228 calories, 16 g fat (9.7 g saturated), 352 mg sodium, 9.1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, <1 g sugar, 12.4 g protein
Whether you’re looking for fun finger food to bring to a party or an enticing way to get your little ones to eat something other than mac and cheese, these roll-ups are it. They’re super easy to make and a lot less calorically damaging to your waistline. You’re welcome.
Get the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.
CREAMY BLACK BEAN SALSA
Nutrition (per ¼ cup serving): 100 calories, 2 g fat (<1 g saturated), 51 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 4.5 g protein
This salsa does more than dress up your chip; it’ll help you reach your body goals and improve cognitive function—all thanks to black beans. Like kidney beans, the tiny beads are one of the best flat belly high fiber foods. However, they also contain anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that improve brain function. Afternoon snacking never felt so good.
Get the recipe from Six Sister’s Stuff.