Cinco de Mayo is coming up, which means there will be plenty of sunshine, drinks and delicious foods to enjoy. With endless tortilla chips and margaritas on the menu, you may feel tempted to take the indulging overboard.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to lighten up your celebration, whether you’re hosting a fiesta at home or getting take-out from your favorite Mexican restaurant. Here are four ways to enjoy a healthier Cinco de Mayo, plus some of our favorite festive recipes.
1. Hydrate Right
Photo credit: Infused Waters via Yummly
An easy way to watch your calories while you celebrate is to avoid liquid calories from sugary drinks like sodas. And you’ll want to stay hydrated while you nosh on salty foods and enjoy alcoholic drinks, as these can dehydrate you.
To spice up plain water, try infusing it with fresh fruit, citrus and herbs, or try these refreshing low-sugar combinations:
- Grapefruit Rosemary Infused Water (shown above)
- Strawberry & Lime Water
- Mint & Cucumber Lemonade
2. Modify Your Margarita
Photo Credit: Quarterlife Crisis Cuisine via Yummly
Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t feel complete without an ice-cold margarita (or two). A classic margarita usually consists of tequila, triple sec (aka orange liqueur), simple syrup and lime juice. If you’re ordering at a bar or restaurant, make these changes for a lighter margarita:
- Opt for shaken instead of blended; the pre-made mixes often have more sugar.
- Skip the simple syrup or ask for half the amount.
- Ask for half the amount of triple sec to cut down on calories.
If you’re playing bartender at home, try these fiesta-friendly margarita twists:
- Pineapple Cilantro Margarita
- Jalapeño Grapefruit Margarita
- Fresh Cranberry Margaritas
3. Dip Wisely
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Chips and salsa are likely to be included in your fiesta. If you’re in charge of providing the snacks, here are some tips to navigate the grocery store:
- Tortilla chips: No-salt-added tortilla chips are your best bet. Also, keep an eye out for chips with added flax or chia seeds, as these will have more fiber than regular tortilla chips. And what about blue corn chips? They have more antioxidants than yellow corn chips, but they’re not much different in terms of calories.
- Salsa: Check the label and pick one with close to 5% or less of the Daily Value (DV) of sodium. This means it’s low in sodium.
If you’re eating out at a restaurant, how do you know if a dip is high in calories? Consider if it’s made with dairy. Most dairy-based dips, like queso cheese dip and sour cream-based dips, are high in calories and fat.
Pair these dips with tortilla chips for ultimate fiesta dipping:
4. Navigate the Menu
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If you’re heading out to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate, here are some ways to order a lighter meal:
- Go for veggie-packed fajitas or tacos made with chicken, fish or shrimp as an entrée.
- Opt for corn tortillas instead of flour, as corn counts as a whole grain.
- Your meal might come with several different fats like guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Pick one and skip the rest.
- Choose whole beans instead of refried beans, which are often made with lard or shortening.
If you’re cooking at home, here are some recipes to try:
- Cilantro-Chicken Chilaquiles
- Baked Portobello Mushroom Taquitos
- Black Bean Quesadillas
- 20-Minute Taco Skillet
This blog post was originally published on May 2nd, 2016, and last updated on April 26, 2017.