Chipotle emphasizes its fresh ingredients and food values that include environmentally friendly sourcing. Although these are good qualities, they are not the best indicators of the nutritional value of meals. To do this, you have to look at the ingredients and the composition of the menu items. To make it easier to eat well at this popular chain, I scoured the website for the healthiest choices on the menu, as well as a few things you might want to eat less often.
Related: Running a Starbucks? Here are the healthiest choices.
How to order a healthy meal at Chipotle
Chipotle offers more vegetables and whole grains than typical quick and casual joints, but like other restaurant dishes, it can be high in sodium and saturated fat. Take advantage of their customizable menu by following these tips:
Choose whole grain brown rice over white rice. And ask for a teaspoon if you’re watching your carb intake or trying to manage your weight.
Double the vegetables. Cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, veggie fajitas, salsa, and lettuce all count towards your veg goals.
Add beans. One scoop of black beans has 9 grams of protein and fiber, making it a great addition or alternative to meat.
Look at the dairy toppings. A normal serving of cheese contains 125 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat. A better strategy may be to ask for a light serving of cheese, which cuts saturated fat in half and cuts your order by 55 calories. If you have sour cream, the same strategy applies. A regular serving contains 7 grams of saturated fat, but a light serving contains half of it.
Get a crispy taco shell on the side and place it in place of the chips. A regular order of Chipotle tortilla chips is around four servings, so this tactic will provide you with the crunch you crave, but it will help you stick to a more reasonable portion.
Related: Salted Lime Crisps are the perfect vehicle for salsa, guacamole, and queso.
The healthiest things to order from Chipotle
In general, these bowls are packed with veg and are suitable for many eaters, even those who don’t follow the specific diets for which they were created. They also tend to have enough protein and fiber, two things that help keep you full and satisfied. Sure, they can still contain half (or more) of the maximum amount of sodium you should aim for in a day, but that’s not unusual when it comes to restaurant food.
A salad is like a DIY version of a lifestyle bowl. In this case, you select the toppings to add to your greens. A salad with chicken or beans (or both), salsa and guac is a balanced choice. Add a light or regular serving of brown rice if you want a bigger meal. Another fun and tasty option is to ask for a crispy taco shell on the side and then crumble it over your salad. It will instantly take your meal to the next level of delight.
Meatless Burrito Bowl by Lisa Lillien
If you want a totally customizable meal that’s bigger than a salad, a burrito bowl is the way to go. Start with a light or normal serving of brown rice, then add the cauliflower rice with cilantro and lime to increase your vegetable intake. Adding vegetables to the rice will make this meal more filling and nutritious. At the base, add your vegetables and any protein you like. Remember, you can replace your meat protein with beans, or just add some to your order. Like other Chipotle toppings, you can add a light, normal, or extra amount.
The nice thing about tacos is that you can order any amount, so you have the flexibility to check with your appetite to determine which number would be the most satisfying. The crispy corn masa taco, although deep fried, seems like the way to go since bread flour taco shells are made with wheat flour, which really means white flour as there is no indication that ‘they are made from 100% whole wheat. Corn tacos are also a good source of fiber. Fill your tacos with lettuce and beans, and another protein if you like. And don’t forget the salsa!
What to eat less often at Chipotle
Of course, when it comes to what you eat, context matters. When your nutritional plan includes mostly whole or minimally processed plant foods, a less healthy ingredient or meal won’t make much of a difference. With that said, you may be trying to eat healthier. In that case, here are some of the menu items that you might want to eat less often.
The flour tortilla is made from highly processed refined grains, and between the wrap and the brown rice, you’ll get the carbohydrate equivalent of almost six slices of bread. Even without rice, the tortilla is like eating almost four slices of bread. Instead of a burrito, you might like a burrito bowl, which has all of the same burrito toppings layered on top of one bowl. Meanwhile, a bowl of brown rice brings the carb count down to the size of a sandwich, and if you order a light serving of rice, you’re in the same carb zone as a single slice of bread.
Joy Bauer Burrito Bowls by Joy Bauer
Since you start with the same flour tortilla as the burrito, the nutritional stats are similar. The pasty burrito has as many carbs as three and a half slices of bread, and if you top it with rice, you have up to six slices. Plus, this meal alone has 330 calories of cheese, and cheese contributes 15 grams of saturated fat clogging your arteries. You can make it healthier by skipping the optional rice filling and filling your quesadillas with vegetable fajitas. Then, fill them with fresh tomato salsa for added flavor and vegetarian goodness.
Related: In May, Chipotle Said It Would Raise Hourly Wages For Its Restaurant Employees To An Average Of $ 15 An Hour By The End Of June.
The bottom line
It’s important to remember that these meals can be loaded with sodium, saturated fat, or both. The best way to minimize these less healthy substances is to prepare most of your meals at home. Still, taking out a meal once in a while can help reduce fatigue associated with cooking and meal planning. Chipotle meals are also useful when your plans to bring in lunch haven’t worked out, when you are traveling, and when you run errands and need to stop to eat. Since you can customize your Chipotle meals to include whole grains and generous servings of vegetables, and since Chipotle has vegan and vegetarian options, this is one of the most nutritious restaurant chains to eat out.