Will El Sereno Mexican food lovers develop a taste for smaller and healthier portions?

Regular vs healthier option | Courtesy Stacey Medina

Regular vs healthier option | Courtesy Stacey Medina

EL SERENO — Cutting down on portions is an easy way to cut down on calories and weight. But how will portion control go over with diners hungering for a classic enchilada plate?  El Vaquero Restaurant is testing the concept by offering new menu items that are at least one-third smaller than the original meals as part of a public health campaign to reduce obesity.

El Vaquero is one of several hundred restaurants across the county that are serving up slimmed down offerings as part of the L.A. County Health Department’s Choose Health LA Restaurant program. Participating restaurants feature selected menu items that are reduced in sized by one-third of the original menu item. Participating restaurants also have the option to develop or modify their kids menu to create healthier options.

“Having a smaller portions menu is a win-win for customers,” said Stacey Medina, a nutritionist with the county health department. “Families have the option to make healthy decisions, enjoy traditional Hispanic cuisine without sacrificing flavor, and reduce their caloric intake [while] achieving a healthier weight.”

At El Vaquero,  the “Light” version of the standard enchilada plate consists of two enchiladas, instead of three, with a side salad but no beans or rice (there’s also an option that includes rice and beans with two enchiladas).  The Light menu items are also cheaper than the $7.99 charged for the standard plate: $2.90 for two enchiladas or $5.99 if rice and beans are added.  There are also “Light” meals featuring  taquitos and soft tacos.

Medina said it’s up to individual restaurants to decide if prices as well as portions are reduced.

“El Vaquero Restaurant …. not only encourages healthier eating habits by offering smaller portions but they chose to make their new healthier meals inexpensive for the community,” Medina said. “We want community members to know that there are restaurants in their neighborhood that offer healthier options and we want to encourage them to select from the CHLA menu to make this program sustainable.”


Regular vs healthier option | Courtesy Stacey Medina

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  1. i love this!

  2. ‘smaller and healthier portions?’ Did you mean – smaller and more healthful portions? The food you eat is not healthy, it is DEAD!

  3. Places like Poquito Mas (and others) have been offering smaller portions (“Petito Menu”) for quite awhile now. It’s a good idea, and many customers seem pleased to have the choice available.

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