Eating Well at Pollo Tropical

photoRecently, a few new popular fast-food restaurants opened on campus, which may be exciting for our taste buds but not so much for staying on track with healthy eating habits. However, eating healthy at fast-food restaurants is possible! You just have to know which options to avoid and which to choose. Here are my recommendations for Pollo Tropical:

The Create Your Own TropiChop-Bowl is the perfect option in customizing your own healthy dish because it allows you to choose between a variety of healthy carbohydrates, protein, and side options.

Carbs: The healthiest options are rice: white, yellow, and brown. Brown rice is your best choice as it is an unrefined whole grain that is high in fiber and other important natural minerals. Unfortunately, the brown rice is not vegetarian. Choosing romaine lettuce and brown rice for your bowl will be 300 calories, 9 grams of fat (2 grams saturated), and 5 grams of protein.

Protein: At fast food restaurants, meat dishes are often breaded, fried, or coated in oil, butter, or fat while most vegetarian options are lower in calories, fat, and sodium. Adding black beans will be a healthier option here, adding only 220 calories, 5 grams of fat (1 gram saturated), and 11 grams of protein to your dish.

If you cannot part from your staple meat, the boneless chicken breast is your best choice. Compared to the Mojo Roast Pork, the chicken has 290 calories, 6 grams of fat (2 grams saturated), and 59 grams of protein while the pork has 250 calories,15 grams of fat (6 grams saturated), and 29 grams of protein.

Sides: Skip the cheese and sour cream. These dairy fillers will add 10 grams of fat (6 grams saturated) and an extra 120 calories.

However, you can pile on the veggies! You can add diced tomatoes, peppers, and sautéed onions for around 45 calories and 3 grams of fat (0 grams saturated).

Healthy totals:

Vegetarian bowl: 565 calories, 15 grams of fat (2 grams saturated), 18 grams of protein.

Chicken bowl w/ black beans: 855 calories, 23 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein

Chicken bowl w/o black beans: 635 calories, 18 grams of fat, 64 grams of protein

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