Chipotle and the Healthy Diet Myth

The “talking heads” of CNBC appear to be no more reliable than the politicos who occupy prime real estate in our nation’s capitol.   After months of championing Chipotle for providing a “healthy food” alternative to McDonalds, it would appear that the Masters of the Universe know as little about food as they do about finance.


In a devastating article published by the New York Times yesterday,  “healthy food” alternative Chipotle is serving up the same calorie-ladened and high salt content fare as their brothers at the Golden Arches.   If you believe the propaganda from Chipotle, their farm animals are treated more humanely than the factory-processed meats at McDonald’s, but dining frequently at either restaurant is probably taking years off your life and adding inches to your waistline.

Get a load of these statistics from the New York Times article entitled “At Chipotle:  How Many Calories do People Really Eat?”

Today, we have a ballpark estimate. The typical order at Chipotle has about 1,070 calories. That’s more than half of the calories that most adults are supposed to eat in an entire day. The recommended range for most adults is between 1,600 and 2,400.

The histogram above shows the distribution of calories for all orders. The spike around 1,000 calories represents “standard” burrito orders – a meat burrito with typical additions: cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, rice and beans. If you order a meat burrito at Chipotle with these toppings, it’s very likely to reach 1,000 calories.

But there’s so much more to this data than the averages. Chipotle customers can and do order meals with fewer than 650 calories, such as a cheese-free burrito bowl. On the other end of the spectrum, about one in 10 meals had more than 1,600 calories.

The distributions of two other metrics of a meal’s health — salt and saturated fat, shown in the charts below — are just as revealing. Most orders at Chipotle give you close to a full day’s worth of salt (2,400 milligrams) and 75 percent of a full day’s worth of saturated fat.

Ouch, these statistics are pretty damning, but I suspect it won’t have much of an impact on their inflated stock price.  “Save me a bite of your burrito, Mr. President.”


Tamales and Chipotle Chicken Chile

Chipotle chicken Chili

We have quite a few Christmas dinner traditions, but Tamales and Chipotle Chicken is not one of them. In any event, we decided to serve tamales on December 23, because everyone has a hectic schedule and a variety of eating disorders. “Great” tamales are almost impossible to find in the northeast and now quite difficult to find in Texas unless you shop regularly at a Mexican grocery store.

The problem with most tamales is that they are far too dry: long on masa, but short on road-kill. (Editor’s Note: “Bogey Pinson” is partial to jack-rabbit, while I prefer armadillo. Langston tells me that turkey buzzard is to die for! I’ll take his word for it. For those seeking something more conventional for their tamale filing, Perdue recommends leftovers that McDonalds doesn’t consider edible for chicken McNuggets.)

In any event, I picked up three varieties of “homemade” tamales from Trader Joe’s: chicken, pork and vegetarian. Since I must assume that they will be too dry, I have decided to serve them with a variation of The Pioneer Woman’s Chipotle Chicken Chili. Basically, we eliminated the beans and cutback on the Chipotle since it would likely be a bit too spicy for sweet Corinne. Found below is this modified version, but for those who want something that looks like the photograph above, CLICK HERE!

Chipotle Chicken Chili sans Beans


  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into A Large Dice
  • 1 bottle (12 Ounce Bottle) Good Beer
  • 1 can (14 Oz. Size) Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 whole Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce, Minced (recipe calls for 3)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste (2 Tbs minimum)
  • 1/4 cup Masa Harina
  • 1 Lime, Juiced
  • Sour Cream, For Serving
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese, For Serving
  • Cilantro, For Serving
  • Lime Wedges For Serving

Preparation Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until onions soften. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add 3/4 of the beer, reserving the rest, then cook for a couple of minutes to reduce.

Add the tomatoes, chipotles, beans, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then cover the pot and cook for 1 hour.

Combine the masa harina with the rest of the beer and stir to make a paste. Add this into the chili, along with the lime juice. Stir and cook for 10 more minutes or until thick.

Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and another squeeze of lime!

Enjoy! – The Grinch certainly will.