Order This, Not That: Chipotle

by in Dining Out, April 10, 2009

This quick-service joint has been around for years, but Dana and I only recently tested it out. We’d heard they use free-range animal meat and fresher ingredients. We didn’t realize those would come in gigantic portions! That said, here are our tips for eating healthier (and greener) at Chipotle.

How can fast food be eco-friendly?
Chipotle strives to serve “Food with Integrity,” meaning better tasting, from better sources and better for the environment and the animals. Their chains offer naturally raised pork, chicken and beef, and about 25% of their pinto and black beans are organic. Chipotle recently began purchasing some of their produce from local farms, too (something I like to see!).

Nutrition info?
Chipotle’s website has ingredient lists and yummy pictures all over it, but I had a tough time finding the nutritional details. Finally, I Googled “Chipotle + Nutrition Info” and found this pdf hiding in their FAQs.

Order this
For any first timers, the menu can be a bit overwhelming because you create your own burrito, salad, fajita or taco. This is easy temptation to go overboard. For the base, go for a flour tortilla (taco) with 90 calories — as opposed to the burrito with 290 calories — or order your meal to split with a friend (Dana and I should have split a burrito, not had two).

Next, choose your fillings, but don’t go crazy! Stick to two or three healthy toppings. Start by choosing one protein such beef, pork or chicken. The pinto beans are flavored with bacon (so vegetarians and sodium-watchers, be mindful!); choose the black beans instead. Next, go for the lettuce, tomatillo green or red chili salsa or a fresh tomato salsa — they range from 15 to 40 calories a serving.

Not that
Just for kicks, I added up a burrito with pinto beans, chicken, red tomatillo salsa, sour cream and guacamole — here are the results: 910 calories and 40.5 grams fat. It’s no wonder those nutrition facts aren’t easily accessible!

Cheese, guacamole and sour cream are classic add-ons, but they’re also high calorie and high fat. If you’re splitting your meal, choose one of these toppings and ask them to go easy. Otherwise, skip it. By removing the sour cream and guac in the burrito above, I save 270 calories and 23 grams of fat.

For more information, check out Chipotle’s menu and their nutrition info.

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