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Cutting calories when eating Mexican food

Taco Bell promises a “high quality” Cantina Bell menu that it’s introducing next month featuring “8 new ingredients,” including whole black beans, white-meat chicken, and corn salsa.

I asked Nutrition and You blogger Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietician at Boston University, for tips on reducing calorie counts whether you’re ordering at Taco Bell, Chipotle, or your neighborhood Mexican restaurant. She recommended skipping the fattening dressings and toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and vinaigrette. “I use salsa as a dressing,” said Blake. “It’s very low in calories and fat and one-half cup is considered a serving of vegetables.” The only worry is the sodium content for those who are salt sensitive, so you may need to ask.

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To get an idea of how many calories you can save by skipping toppings, check out Chipotle’s nutrition calculator on the website chipotle.com. Salads range from 505 calories to 875 calories, depending on what toppings you choose, and a flour tortilla alone will set you back 290 calories.

Bottom line: You can actually get a fairly nutritious and moderate-calorie meal at a Mexican fast-food chain if you’re really careful about what you order.

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