‘Fresh’ Mexican food doesn’t mean low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar

Fresh and natural have become restaurant buzz words these days that people mistakenly think will always mean healthier. Sadly that is not the case, and can be far from it.

A recent lunch at Café Mexicali in Fort Collins, Colo., reminded me of that.

As fresh as its gets doesn't equal low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar.
As fresh as its gets doesn’t equal low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar.

The place is a favorite of students at nearby Colorado State, the university that helps give Fort Collins its quaint vib. A niece suggested we go there because the place makes everything from scratch, including its own tortillas which I watched them create. Its website talks about its goal as providing Mexican food “as fresh as it gets.”

But the menu offered me no choices for a low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar meal because everything came with cheeses or sauces that had one or all three of those.

A nutritionist once told me to avoid all Mexican food sold in U.S. Mexican restaurants because it tended to be peasant food which by its nature is unhealthy. I was reminded of that warning here.

My stripped-down salad option, no cheese or other problem items.
My stripped-down salad option, no cheese or other problem items.
A normal Cafe Mexicali dish, lots of cheese and sauces.
A normal Cafe Mexicali dish, lots of cheese and sauces.

I opted for a salad with chicken breast, which was made with white rice, not brown which I normally would get, and lettuce. I said ok to some black beans to get more protein, but that was a personal mistake I paid for all day because beans and my stomach have never really gotten along. The chicken was tiny pieces rather than a whole breast and had been cooked in seasonings I’m sure included salt. I passed on other things normally in the salad, taco chip stripes, cheeses and various sauces, topping it instead with my own oil and vinegar.

Always check menus before going to any restaurant for the first time, don’t let buzzwords lull you into a false sense of salt, fat and sugar security. Small places like this one don’t often post nutritional info on their websites or in their locations, so use your best judgment to avoid fat, salt and sugar in their foods.

Cafe Mexicali on Urbanspoon


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