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One of the largest problems I see over and over is how to eat paleo when out and about. A local SF company, Tasteful, is trying to solve this issue with their current app Paleo Digest. While beautiful and very helpful if you live in San Francisco, it doesn’t cover the vast majority of you reading this article.
I decided instead to choose one of my favorite “chain” restaurants that most people have access to and that have very high standards, is relatively inexpensive, and yet high quality – Chipotle. When it marks off all of those check boxes, it is an easy recommendation for people all around the country.
Another reason Chipotle is one of my favorite paleo friendly restaurants? Because they are always striving to do the right thing. Admittedly hard when scaling up and sourcing enough food to fill their restaurants, they are continually making decisions that impact customers health, welfare of animals and lives of farmers. One of the huge things that Chipotle did recently was remove GMO products 100% from their stores. Kudos.
Their ingredient lists are pretty damn good considering their size and scope. Some of you may want to know about the oils they cook with however. Some of the cooking is done with sunflower oil, which is pretty high in omega-6 fatty acids. The other cooking (veggies, chicken, steak) is done with rice bran oil.
The plus with rice bran oil it that it has a smoke point of up to 500 degrees F. The not so good news is that is 35% polyunsaturated fat. While PUFAs can be generally safe, heating and sitting around in those tubs will likely turn them a little inflammatory. Really not a huge deal if you’re generally eating a pretty clean diet. There are certainly bigger fish to fry than a tablespoon or so of rice bran oil though.
After years of refinement of ordering paleo at chipotle, I have nailed down my technique. Below is a photo of proof:
Here is how you order paleo at Chipotle:
Skip the tortilla. Ask for a bowl, “here” or “to go” depending on your preference. Let’s be real about the tortilla here folks, no one needs to be eating those double gluten shells.
Create a base of veggies. Be prepared to quickly answer “No thank you, just veggies” and get very weird glances following the questions “White or brown rice?” and “Black or pinto?” These workers go through thousands of these burritos a day and can get into a robot-like delivery.
Choose meats depending on your preference. If you generally eat a pretty clean diet and don’t really care much if you get a little shot of omega-6 laden sunflower oil, then don’t sweat it. The barbacoa and carnitas are made with sunflower oil and the chicken and steak with rice bran oil. As covered above, rice bran oil is the lesser of two evils, but in reality this small amount isn’t going to kill anyone.
Load up on salsas. The red chili, green chili and pico de gallo are all just fresh veggies blended up. No creepy oils or any additives according to their ingredient listing. So feel free to ask for extra of each of these toppings.
Finish off with guacamole. Chipotle’s guacamole is amazingly consistent and incredibly delicious. I don’t quite know what their secret is yet, but feel free to add a strong heaping of healthy fats. Top with some extra lettuce if you’d like and dig in!
Depending on what you find is helpful for YOU, feel free to add white rice or dairy. Some Chipotle’s claim their dairy is from pasture raised cows. I tolerate dairy pretty well but still am usually wary about mass produced, non-raw dairy.
There you have it. How to eat paleo at Chipotle. Pretty easy and insanely delicious. Considering how you can have a consistently tasty meal for under $10 pretty much any reasonably sized city in the country I would say that counts as a huge win. Keep it up Chipotle!
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I am in no way affiliated with Chipotle. I was not paid or compensated to write this article. I just enjoy quality food from responsible brands.