Are Chipotle's New Sofritas a Healthy Order?


On Monday, Chipotle Mexican Grill began offering sofritas, shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilies, roasted poblanos (mild chili peppers), and a blend of spices, at its California locations. The only source of protein for vegetarians and vegans at Chipotle in other states right now is beans, and while I am a huge fan of beans, having more than one option never hurts.

Like other fillings, sofritas can be added to burritos, tacos, burrito bowls, and salads with other ingredients, and at 145 calories and 1.5 grams of saturated fat per 4-ounce serving, they sound pretty good for you. And while I'm glad Chipotle has a new vegan option and would hope that meat-eaters would try it too, there are many surprises on their menu that you need to watch out for, such as:

1. Just a burrito's tortilla-before adding any fillings-sets you back 290 calories and 670mg sodium.

2. Normally I would not suggest anything with the word "crispy" in its description, but when choosing tacos, the crispy corn tortillas actually have 90 fewer calories per serving than the soft flour tortillas.

3. All the filling choices-steak, barbacoa, carnitas, and chicken-are about the same calorie- and fat-wise, but the steak has the least amount of sodium (320mg) and the carnitas the most (540mg). And unfortunately their newest addition, the sofrita, is the highest of them all at 710mg per serving. Ouch!

4. A real sodium shocker is that the tomato salsa (470mg) and tomatillo-red chili salsa (570mg) are much higher than the tomatillo-green chili salsa (230mg). And even the beans vary enough to sway you in one direction with pinto (330mg) higher than black (250mg)

5. Add-ons that can cause a calorie disaster are vinaigrette (260 calories), guacamole (150 calories), cheese (100 calories), and sour cream (120 calories).

So what can one possibly order if they want to keep calories at a reasonable amount and sodium less than their total day's allowance?

In general, choose one carb, either the tacos or beans or brown rice, then add your protein. (Since most vegetarians only have the option of beans as a protein, have that with either the tacos or brown rice.) You can never go wrong adding fajita veggies, lettuce, or salsa, preferably the tomatillo-green chili salsa since it's the lowest in sodium. And if you want a healthy fat, choose either guac or cheese and ask for a half order.

Some of the best options available include:

1. Crispy corn tortilla tacos with chicken, romaine lettuce, fajita veggies, tomatillo-green chili salsa = 410 calories, 800mg sodium

2. Burrito bowl with steak, brown rice, fajita veggies, roasted chili-corn salsa = 450 calories, 1,050mg sodium

3. Salad with chicken, black beans, fajita veggies, vinaigrette (1/2 serving; ask for it on the side) = 470 calories, 1,145mg sodium

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