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Healthy burrito bowls in minutes!

Girls weekends away are bad for your health. I know this because after a three-day trip to NYC, I have developed a severe case of Shopper's Elbow. I also have signs and symptoms of Cannot Be Bothered. It seems that I did such a good job of winding down that I am struggling to wind back up again.

Despite rubbing shoulders with the eight million people that live in New York on the subway, in restaurants and on overcrowded streets I think I relaxed, properly relaxed, for the first time in three years. I also went to the loo by myself. As mums of toddlers everywhere know, that alone is a remarkable achievement.

With Chloe and Belle in the hands of the oh-so-capable Lovely Husband, I switched off from all things domestic. It's amazing to go from thinking about four people, to thinking about just one. Having said that, there seems to have been a Disney explosion in my suitcase, so I am not sure the switch-off was entirely complete.

Back in the real world, I am having problems focusing on the task in hand. Normally I have a fridge and freezer full of dinner options, but as the supply has been raided by the LH, we have run dry. Tonight, as I'm feeling uninspired by the usual choices, I'll be creating some healthy burrito bowls. I used to make these years ago, but was reminded of the idea by my girlfriend's obsession with Chipotle.

Chipotle is an incredibly successful chain of Mexican grills in the States, and while there are a few no-go items, it's also perfectly possible to pick up something healthy and fun. They also have a “food with integrity” philosophy which means that their meat, dairy and poultry come from sources that don't use antibiotics or synthetic hormones (so these don't find their way into the food chain and on to your plate). Phew!

One of the most popular options is their classic burrito bowl. They are put together on the spot so you get to choose the combination of flavours and crucially, the portion sizes. If you do pay Chipotle a visit don't feel too guilty about adding cheese, but skip the vinaigrette. The cheese comes in at 100 cals, with 8.5g of fat and 180mg of sodium. The vinaigrette on the other hand has 260 cals, a whopping 24.5g of fat and an astonishing 700mg of sodium. This is just one example of how browsing a company's menu online before you travel can help you make better choices.

Fortunately for Mexican food addicts here, it's easy to recreate burrito bowls at home and even simpler to pick the healthier options. By keeping portion sizes in control, loading up on salad and being careful with the “extras”, you can enjoy these completely guilt-free! Burrito bowls are traditionally made with rice, but there's no reason why you can't use quinoa or sweet potatoes as a base instead. Choosing quality protein and antioxidant rich salad leaves (such as spinach or arugula) also reduces saturated fat and bumps up the nutritional value.

Follow the steps below and use the cut-out-and-keep box to enjoy a healthy burrito bowl multiple ways. Extra tip: for even more flavour, stir fresh cilantro and lime juice through your rice or quinoa.

Healthy burrito bowls in minutes!


· Pick one item from each column choosing multiple veggies and extras if you wish. I suggest you choose either sour cream or cheese, or just have a little of both.

· Prepare your rice/quinoa/potatoes and your protein. Using leftovers speeds up the process considerably. For the Cajun chicken, simply rub cubed chicken with Cajun spices and bake. For the ground beef, mix with a fajita spice mix.

· Pre-chop the leaves, salad veggies and grate your cheese if necessary.

· Make sure your rice/quinoa/potatoes, beans and protein are cooked through and piping hot. Then layer all the components into individual bowls, starting with the rice column and working to the right.

· Keep portion sizes under control, following the directions in the box.

· Enjoy!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA hons, Dip ION is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. She can be contacted at nourishbda[AT]gmail.com.

A burrito bowl ready to go!

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Published November 25, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 25, 2011 at 6:22 am)

Healthy burrito bowls in minutes!

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