Eating out at your favorite Mexican restaurant once in a while is a great way to bond with family and get rid of some household stress in a lively environment while allowing you to take a break from the kitchen for a night. But your family's meal out might not deliver as much nutrition as you'd like without a little planning ahead of time.

The consumption of vegetables is important for overall health and can reduce your family's chance of developing chronic diseases when they're included in each meal, even those enjoyed that are eaten in restaurants. Following are a few steps you can take to get your family to eat more veggies at your favorite Mexican restaurant without sacrificing flavor or meal enjoyment:

Say No to any Refill Opportunities

Saying no to refill opportunities is one of the best ways to ensure that nobody at your table ends up drinking more calories than they eat or putting away several baskets of chips and salsa before your meals even get to the table. This can be easily done by having everyone order a soda or other refreshment upon sitting at the table and asking the waitress not to ask about refills after delivering your orders.

The same can be done with complimentary chips and dip by coming to an agreement with your family about how many baskets you'll eat together before refusing refill offers. Limiting table refills can save your family literally hundreds of unneeded calories in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates which all tend to lead to weight gain and health problems.

Ask for Lots of Extra Lettuce

You can increase the nutrition factor of every meal that hits your table simply by asking that all the tortillas used in each dish are filled with extra lettuce. Even dishes that include foods that don't normally come stuffed with lettuce, such as enchiladas, taste great when fresh greens are added to them while being prepared for plating. And as for dishes that do originally come with lettuce, such as taco salads, just ask for double the portion of greens.

You should find that your server is happy to make the request without any additional costs to worry about. If you or family members enjoy tomatoes, request extra servings of them with each meal too. They'll help bulk the dishes up and provide everyone at the table with some extra lycopene, which are antioxidants that are known to help improve both bone and heart health.

Mix up Some Salad Fixings for the Table

To encourage everyone at the table to consume plenty of vegetables along with their burritos and carne asada dishes, order a large bowl of salad greens and a few side dishes to add to the greens and put it in the middle of the table before your meals are served. Condiments such as salsa, sour cream, and other options available at the table work great as dressing.

Consider adding one or more of the following side dishes right into your table's bowl of salad greens to bulk things up and make it more attractive to those who aren't so fond of greens:

  • Black or Pinto Beans
  • Corn off the Cob
  • Olives and Tomatoes
  • Grilled Onions
  • Fried Tofu

The idea is to create a family-sized salad that is so enticing to everyone that they are happy to fill up on it before digging into their main dishes. This might even lead to opportunity for everyone to take leftovers home for lunch the next day.

When used in combination with one another, these tips and tricks should help ensure that everyone at your table enjoys every bite they take and heads home feeling healthy at the end of the night.  For more information, check out a Mexican restaurant near tucson arizona.