Eating Healthy At: Taco Bell

Eating healthy foods at Taco Bell is surprisingly easy, and even moreso if you do a few substitutions. All beef items can be made with Pinto Beans instead, which is fairly healthy, despite being high in sodium.

In terms of making a food product Fresco Style, you simply remove all cheese, sauce, sour cream, and/or Guacamole, and replace it all with Pico De Gallo, which is simply a vinegar, tomato, and onion blend with cilantro. It is caimed to be able to reduce the calorie count by as much as 25%, but of course, that varies on food item, as the amount of calories reduced from a 7-Layer will be higher than that removed from a simple Bean Burrito.

Fresco Black Bean Burrito

22392_Burritos_BlackBeanBurrito_300x300One of the healthiest items you can buy would probably be a Fresco Black Bean Burrito, A Fresco black bean burrito is 340 calories and 14 grams of protein. It also has 8 grams of dietary fiber, which is wonderful for digestion. It is also high in sodium, but you can avoid some of this by asking for no or easy red sauce.

Fresco Bean Burrito

This one is like the Fresco Black Bean Burrito, but with Pinto Beans instead of Black Beans. Due to it being Fresco it is lower in both Fat and calories. It has 350 calories, 13 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat. It does have 1050 mg of sodium, but by removing the Red Sauce you can remove 150 mg.

Chicken or Veggie Cantina Power Bowl

22488_Specialties_CantinaPowerBowlChicken_600x600The Chicken Cantina power bowl is delicious, but is high in calories and fat. it has 20 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat, which by itself isn’t alot, but for some people that might be far too much. So here is a way to make the Cantina Bowl even more healthy. Do NOT ask for it Fresco Style, because you want to keep the Guacamole as a form of dressing, because Avocado might be high in fat, but it is still a rather healthy food.

Remove the Sour Cream, Avocado Ranch Sauce, and the Cheese. Doing so reduces the fat content to 11 grams, and the Saturated Fat content to 2 grams. It also reduces the Sodium content from 1300 to 1140, which is still high, but eating low sodium at fast food is near impossible. The chicken bowl still has 24 grams of protein, the veggie version would have 8 grams.

Grilled Chicken Crunchy Taco Fresco

This would be more expensive, and would turn a cheaper taco into probably 2 dollar plus taco, but is fairly healthy and low in sodium. The Flour shells are much higher in Sodium than the corn one’s tend to be, so if you are watching your sodium intake, it is vital to order crunchy taco shells instead of soft ones. It would be 270 mg of sodium per taco, with 9 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fat. You can even add more vitamins an minerals, but also more on the price tag, by asking to substitute lettuce to Romaine.

Black Beans and Rice

teaThis could be a small staple to your Taco Bell visit, having only 180 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and only 4 grams of fat. It also has 430 mg of Sodium, which is fairly high, but not too high.

Drinks

The healthiest drink that you can buy here at this store is Unsweetened Tea. You can then either drink it black, or combine it with some Splenda or Sweet-n-low for some non-caloric beverage options. Coffee the same way, without creamer, is also an option when it comes to Taco Bell. Although it is best if you can avoid it, you can also drink Diet Mountain Dew or Diet Pepsi as choices. Both are calorie free and won’t negitively effect your health if consumed in moderation.

Eating Healthy At: McDonalds

In my EVA article about Mcdonalds, I gave it a poor review due to a lack of veggie options. So let us see if it can recover from that by offering some more healthier food options. I personally don’t think that many really healthy food options will be available though, due to salt and other issues.

All burgers, especially those with bacon or cheese is a no-no due to saturated fats among other issues such as beef and pork being linked to colorectal cancer by the WHO. so in order to find anything healthy we must remove those items off the list, and what we have left, separated categorically by caloric content, is:

Under 400 Calories

  • Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (Not crispy, as fried chicken is not healthy)
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Under 300 Calories

  • Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
  • Fruit Maple Oatmeal

Under 100 Calories

  • Side Salad (try for vinaigrette dressing instead of ranch or Caesar, or simply not use as much)
  • Apple Slices
  • Cuties (Tiny oranges)

And to wash it all down there are only a few different options to choose from, of which there is:

  • Diet Coke
  • 1% Milk
  • Coffee (plain, with few creams/sugar, or substitute with calorie-free sweeteners)

So in terms of food there are quite a few options for those that are health conscious. Although I would still be careful, as they are often really full of salt, such as the Grilled Chicken Sandwich has a whopping 960 mg of Sodium. So these foods are healthier than most, but if you have a chance, I’d just recommend baking skinless boneless chicken breast in the oven.

The side salad costs about the same price as the cheeseburger, and is comparable in terms of size. The oatmeal and the Parfait are also cheap, so I don’t want to hear the tired excuse of “7 dollar salads vs 1 dollar burger” that constantly sweep the nations excuse-record for why obesity is rising.

My Eating Healthy At Series: Coming Soon!

Welcome to my new series, based off of my previous series Eating Vegetarian At, where I showcased menu options from various fast food restaurants that were vegetarian or vegan in nature. In this series I am simply showing healthy food options, regardless of whether or not they are vegetarian. As I have mentioned before, Vegetarian =/= Healthy, at least not automatically.

How would I decide if a food is “healthy” or not? Well, I would be taking a wider analysis of this by bringing many factors into account. But in order for a food to be included on my list, it must:

  • Not be made out of beef, pork, or any other form of red meat, lean or otherwise
  • Has to have a good nutrient balance for the caloric content
  • Cannot be fried at all, even less so if it is in lard of beef tallow
  • Little to no cheese if possible
  • Egg whites are OK, but egg yolks are not
  • Too much sugar is a no no

I am excluding beef and pork because of the WHO study that found that red meat is correlated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Cheese is excluded in higher amounts due to the large amount of saturated fat that it has. Egg yolks also have a large amount of saturated fat, so none of them either.

I would like people to read this list of foods and take their health into consideration. I hear many people claim that eating healthy at fast food is hard because salads are expensive and burgers are cheap, not only is that complete bull, but I want to show people that there is a wide array of healthier food options to choose from, and many of them are pretty cheap.

No more excuses

So I hope that you all enjoy this series!