Burritos are one of America’s favorite foods. A burrito can be whatever you want it to be — cheesy, meaty, and spicy or zesty, lite, and loaded with veggies. They’re also perfect to eat on the go, with everything conveniently wrapped up! For all these benefits, they tend to be extremely unhealthy. Most restaurant burritos contain greasy meats and veggies. Toss on handfuls of cheese, sour cream, and other fatty toppings and you’ve got a wrapped-up heart attack. But we can fix this!
Each fatty downside of the burrito can be turned into a strength. Worried about the fatty meats? Oh, we can take care of that! Want to cut the cheese without losing flavor? No sweat! Concerned that the flour tortilla has some unnecessary calories? Fret not, because you’ve got options.
Where’s the Beef?
Ground beef is one of the most popular burrito fillings. It’s affordable, easy to cook in large amounts, and can be spiced to taste however you want. Deep fried proteins are another favorite, like fried fish or shrimp. You can easily swap either of these out for a much healthier option. For example, a lean beef or turkey is a pretty simple switch over higher fat ground beef. Grilled chicken is even better, since it’s high in protein and low in fat.
Our pick for the protein, though, is fish such as halibut or tilapia. If you’re looking to maximize your burrito, salmon is the way to go. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, rich in proteins, and many vitamins and nutrients.
Pack in the Good
The next step is to replace the unhealthy add-ins that typically take burritos over-the-line in terms of health. Now, you can certainly add sour cream and cheese, since they truly aren’t as bad as has been made out. Two tablespoons of sour cream contain only 60 calories with five grams of fat, which isn’t as awful as you think. Cheese can also be a good source of calcium and protein and is linked with lower risks of both cancer and heart disease.
When it comes to adding dairy to your burrito, it all comes down to portions. Be judicious with how much you add and keep it healthy.
Beyond these two, you can use the blank canvas that is the burrito to really enjoy some healthy foods. Mushrooms are a great addition, not only for the nutrients they bring, but because they can replace some fatty proteins. You can improve on white rice by using whole grain rice. Avocados are popular in Latin cuisine and are basically a superfood. Other ingredients that you should consider include pinto or black beans, corn, or tomatoes.
Find a Better Wrap
This final tweak is a pretty easy hack. Most people use a “classic” white flour tortilla, which can have as many as 290 calories per tortilla. A whole wheat tortilla is lower in calories, has more nutrients, and is overall healthier. You can also go with a veggie tortilla, though you should read the ingredients before buying. Many “healthy” tortillas are mostly white flour tortillas colored differently. If you’re particularly adventurous, try a lettuce wrap. Or, you can ditch the tortilla altogether and snack on a burrito bowl!
Healthy Homemade Burrito
For the Blackened Salmon
- 1 4oz filet of Salmon, pin bones removed
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of cayenne powder
- 1 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of pepper
- 1 tsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of olive oil for cooking
For the Rest of the Burrito
- 1 12-inch whole grain tortilla
- ½ cup of cooked whole grain rice
- ¼ cup of chopped onions
- 1 clove of garlic, diced
- 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup of corn
- ¼ cup of your choice of canned beans, black or pinto
- ½ an avocado
- 1 tbsp of cumin
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of hot sauce of your choice (Optional)
- Follow the directions on the box of whole grain rice to cook.
- Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Wrap your tortilla shell in tin foil and place in the oven.
- Leave the tortilla in the oven until it’s heated through, around 5 minutes.
- Turn off the oven, but leave the wrapped tortilla in the oven to keep it warm (You can also heat the tortilla in a skillet on medium heat. Simply place the tortilla in a skillet large enough to lay flat in, heat for a minute and then flip to the other side. Or, you can heat it in the microwave. Cover the tortilla with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.).
- Open an avocado and empty half the shell.
- Slice the half into ½-inch strips.
- Set aside.
- Wash, dry, and then cut six cherry tomatoes into quarters.
- Open and drain the can of beans of your choice.
- Mix the paprika, cayenne powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Lightly pat the salmon filet dry and rub ½ tsp of olive oil on both sides.
- Rub the seasoning mix on both sides of salmon filet.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Sear both sides of the filet for 2 to 4 minutes per side (until both sides are dark but not burned).
- Remove the salmon from the heat and cover with tinfoil.
- In a sauté pan, heat one tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.
- Add chopped onion and sauté until the onions are translucent.
- Add in corn, beans, and tomatoes, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in rice, garlic, cumin, and paprika.
- Cook for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Now that everything is cooked, slice the salmon filet into ½-inch thick strips.
- Lay out the whole wheat tortilla and assemble your burrito.
- Place the ingredients in this order: rice-veggie mixture, the fish, and the avocado.
- Squeeze half a lemon’s-worth of juice evenly over the ingredients.
- [Optional] Cover with a tbsp of a hot sauce of your choice.
- Wrap up your burrito and enjoy!
First We Feast — The Complete Guide to Making Burritos at Home