The soldiers in the war on child obesity (and just regular adult obesity) often take aim at fast food. After all, most fast food is highly caloric, processed, and cheap. Which means people who don't have time, or money, to cook healthy food at home, run for the border. This is one of many things celebrity chef, Lorena Garcia, had in mind when she was asked to develop new menu items for Taco Bell. Garcia was enlisted to help the Bell move into the future of food, where everyone is becoming more and more aware of what we put in our bodies.
Personally, I was totally skeptical. Which is why they invited me to an intimate dinner atop the Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles to try it for myself. I know! I'm fancy.
So this is where I enjoyed my Cantina Bowl with citrus-herb marinated chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, crisp romaine lettuce, and fire-roasted corn salsa.
You may not get this experience, nor the delicious watermelon mojitos, but you will get a great meal for $5. Also, you'll enjoy cilantro rice and creamy cilantro dressing, which I could not have because I'm gluten-free. This is all 550 calories, btw. Split it, and you've got a delish, filling lunch for 225 calories. Nice.
While I was convinced through pure luxury, I also asked Garcia why I should start taking my kids to Taco Bell. After all, I've been anti-Bell for awhile and more of an antibiotic-free, organic, Chipotle lover. Garcia's answer was really inspiring -- as is she. Really, I love that lady.
Garcia first addressed the organic issue. For so many people organic is a luxury. Providing high quality food with simple ingredients is her priority. Providing that same food at an affordable price means organic is not an option. Still, she stands by her food, and is incredibly proud that Taco Bell is taking this leap into healthier, less processed food that you can see (instead of hiding inside a squished tortilla). She also told me I should tell my daughter that it's important to take progressive steps, just like Taco Bell is doing. That small changes turn into big changes. She also was like, "You can afford to buy organic, other people can't. I'm helping those people," but not exactly like that. That's my interpretation that is tinged with guilt for being able to afford organic. Didn't I tell you she was inspiring?
At the end of the day, Taco Bell and Garcia made a believer out of me with the Cantina Menu. I may still put a ban on the Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme, but I can order up a cantina bowl (sans rice and dressing) and not feel as guilty for driving through for dinner.
Also, on July 5th if you go to Taco Bell's Facebook page, you can get a Buy One Get One Free deal for the new cantina menu! And if you don't like it, it's guaranteed so you can get something else to eat instead. Win/win/win.
Are you going to try this new menu?