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Lifestyle Tips

Breaking down the latest research on Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition
Written By: Dr. Barry Sears, Ph. D | Creator of the Zone Diet

Written by Mary Perry, MS, RD, LDN
on May 03, 2019

Nachos, Margaritas, and Chips Oh My! Going out for Mexican food doesn't have to be a dieting nightmare. In fact, authentic Mexican cuisine is very in line with the Zone guidelines; lean protein, lots of vegetables, salsas and sauces. Here we'll give you some tips for dining out so you can feel like you've indulged without the guilt.

0518-CincoDeMayo-Blog-icons5Starters and Sides

Chips are often flowing and frequently refilled in many establishments. One serving can add up to about 450 calories and that doesn't include the guacamole for dipping. Instead of blowing your entire days calories at the start, here's our guide to which starters and sides to choose and which ones to skip.


0518-CincoDeMayo-Blog-iconsSoups and Salad

Mexican soups and stews pack a ton of flavor with the combination of spices and slow cooked meats. Look for soups that use tomato, bean or even use guacamole as a base and avoid the ones where cream or cheese are the primary ingredient. Salads are great as either an appetizer or main entrée. When using as an entrée ask for protein to be served on top such as chicken or fish and skip the taco shell if your salad comes served in one.



  • Asado de Bodas- A traditional Mexican soup with pork and chiles             
  • Black Bean Soup
  • Lime Soup
  • Chilled Avocado Soup


  • Fajita Salad with Chicken/Fish
  • Taco salad with Chicken/Fish- no shell


Mexican dishes go beyond burritos, quesadillas, and fajitas to include stewed meats and fish served over a bed of vegetables with various sauces. When ordering entrees aim for ones with lean meats and veggies, avoid the rice and ask for beans instead. 

  • Fajitas: You can still enjoy fajitas, just eat the filling and ask for beans as a side
  • Seafood: Aim for grilled seafood served with light sauces or salsas on top.
  • Grilled Meats: Aim for chicken or leaner cuts of meat served with grilled veggies and salsas.
  • Tacos: Ask your server if you can replace your corn tortillas with lettuce instead. While it may not be offered everywhere, this is one way to enjoy all the flavors of fish or chicken tacos without the extra carbs from the tortillas.


Mexican Sauces pack a ton of flavor. Entrees using the following sauces tend to be Zone favorable but always read the ingredients or ask your server just to be sure.

  • Mole: Mole encompasses a variety of different sauces used in Mexican dishes many of which have numerous ingredients and cover a spectrum of flavors. Most mole sauces are brown and include a blend of various spices often accompanied by chocolate.
  • Chimichurri: A traditional chimichurri includes parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper and olive oil. It makes for a great addition on top of meat.
  • Red/Green Chile Enchilada sauce: A sauce that uses tomatoes or tomatillos as base and a blend of various spices.


Alcohol is treated like a carbohydrate in the Zone and the more alcohol you drink the more restrictive you need to be with your other carbohydrate choices. This is why we recommend avoiding it all together. Where with traditional carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, legumes, starches) for every one gram you consume, it supplies 4 calories, with alcohol for every 1 gram you consume it supplies 7 calories. Ideally it’s best to avoid alcohol, but should you want to indulge have it in place of dessert, try and keep it to simple drinks like wine or beer and couple it with protein. 

Margaritas are popular drinks at many Mexican restaurants, but the issue is they are packed with sugar. Frozen margaritas can range anywhere from 350-450 calories. You might be able to find drinks that use agave syrup, stevia, or other sugar free alternatives but that shouldn’t be an excuse to consume more. Your best bet if you want one is to lighten them up like the recipe below and aim for a classic margarita with just tequila, triple sec or Cointreau and lime juice. This would give you about 185 calories in 4 ounces. 

Zone Margarita- Zonearita

1. Fill a glass with ice. Add the liquids, a dash of stevia and salt.
2. Shake, shake and shake.

Nutritional facts per serving (daily value): Calories 187; Carbs 7


Want to bring the spice of Mexican cuisine home, try out these Zone recipes.



  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, stir in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chicken broth, green chiles, diced tomatoes and tomatillo salsa. Season with oregano and clove. Bring to a boil over high heat add Zone PastaRx Orzo, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 16-20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the Perdue Short Cuts to warm up 2-3 minutes.

Nutritional facts per serving (daily value): Calories 371; Protein 25g ; Total Fat 12g; Total Carb 40g; Fiber 7g

Coconut Lime Black Beans Recipe


  1. Heat the beans on medium heat, with coconut oil and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Garnish with the scallions.

Nutritional facts per serving (daily value): Calories 136; Protein 7g; Total Fat 3g; Total Carb 21g; Fiber 7.5g

Zone Orzo and Pinto Bean Salsa Salad


  1. Prepare Zone PastaRx Orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking set aside.
  2. Using an imersion blender mix half the avocado, garlic, lime juice, water, salt and chili powder to make a dressing, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl mix the beans, peppers, and onions. Add the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Gently fold in the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 diced avocado, cilantro and serve over Zone PastaRx Orzo.

Nutritional facts per serving (daily value): Calories 360; Protein 21g; Total Fat 11g ; Total Carb: 46g; Fiber 10g

As always, we want to help you stay in the Zone everyday and through all challenging special occasions and holidays. Please contact our customer service department at  800-404-8171 or customersupport@zoneliving.com to answer any additional questions you may have. 


Zone Foods make it easy to stay in the Zone! 

zone foods

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