about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

    For partnerships, contact: dailygarnishads@mediakix.com.

    Looking forward to chatting with you!


    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.

How to Build a Healthy Meal at Qdoba.

We hit the road home to Charlotte bright and early this morning – up and out of the beach house by 9:30am!  There is nothing more depressing than packing up and cleaning a beach house, don’t you think?  As usual, the drive home felt a lot looooonger than the drive there.

I started to feel very sleepy at the wheel mid-way, so we stopped to get some caffeine at a Starbucks.  But before we ever made it to the ‘bucks, I saw the beckoning sign of my very favorite road trip eatery…

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Most people associate fast food Mexican places (Chipotle, Moe’s, Qdoba) with crazy high calories and fatty foods.  But to be honest, if you choose the right menu items, these types of places actually have really healthy and delicious options – it’s all about what you order.  Fast food Mexican is our absolute favorite thing to stop for on road trips!

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How to build a healthy meal at Qdoba: 

Step 1 – get the naked burrito bowl.  No tortilla (300 calories) and no tortilla bowl (500 calories).  Just a plain old plastic bowl.  Trust me.

Step 2 – ask them to go light on the rice.  They usually give you MORE than enough, so telling them to go light typically ends up in a normal sized portion. 

Step 3 – get your beans for protein!  I usually ask for a mix of the black and pinto depending on where I am (Chipotle’s pinto beans are not vegetarian, so I just get black there). 

Step 4 – load up on veggies.  At Qdoba, I always ask for both the fajita vegetables and the grilled vegetables.  It makes me mad that I have to pay $1 extra (since there are about 400 other “free” things that I am not getting), but I suck it up and get both anyways.  Healthy food is worth paying a little extra for.

Step 5 – bypass the high fat items.  No cheese, no sour cream.  I know, I know – but I promise when all is said and done there is plenty of delicious flavor in this bowl, and you won’t miss them.  Opt for guacamole instead – still relatively high in fat, but better for you.

Step 6 – load up on salsas – I usually get at least three.  Today I went for the corn salsa, the medium salsa, and the special mango salsa.

Step 7 – Enjoy!

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Trust me – this bowl packs a punch and is totally satisfying without all the added calories of the meat, sour cream, and cheese. 

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On our way home, we rolled into Charlotte but had to pit stops to make.  The first was at Best Buy, where Casey bought a new laptop.  I told you – we are an impulsive family!  But he wanted to be able to work more portably, so now we have 4 computers and 2 extra monitors for 2 people – slightly absurd, but we are also both computer nerds. 

Stop #2 was at the KERF house!  So sad to see it all empty and packed up.  I enjoyed many an oatmeal breakfast with Kath there, and met her for lots of early morning runs.  But she is moving to Charlottesville, and we are (hopefully!) moving to DC, so we’ll actually only be 2 hours apart in our new destinations.  I’m looking forward to a LOT of weekend visits. :)

We finally made it back to our house and unloaded.  It appeared that our trip was sponsored by the Flying Pig Marathon…

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Of all the races we’ve done, the Flying Pig has the best swag by FAR.  Every year there is a new free gift – which is always some sort of wonderful bag.  Between the two of us (having each run the marathon three times), we have 4 duffle bags and 2 computer bags.  We are a travelling advertisement!

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Our pups missed us so much!  There was a lot of snuggling and belly rubbing to make up for when we got home.  Major thanks to the wonderful Michele for watching them this weekend while we were gone. 

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Even though we were only gone a few short days, I came home to find my lettuce thriving!  I am so excited!!

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Still small, but definitely a LOT bigger than when they were planted.  Mmmmmmm I can’t wait to EAT you!

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The basil is looking large and in charge too!  Grow grow grow!

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The parsley….eeeeehh not so much.  But two out of three is not bad, right? 

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I was starving when I got home, so I tried out one of the Pure Bars I was just sent to review…

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Chocolate brownie – totally delicious.  These are organic and vegan, and have a very short ingredient list.  I was very impressed!

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Fueled by our snacks, we got to work setting up the new computer stations and rearranging our desks.  Since Casey got a new laptop, I got my old gigantic monitor back (that I have been missing so much!), so now I am a super cool double monitor user.  I am loving having all these open windows!

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Casey has two computers too, since he works from home and spends most of his day parked right here.  New technology makes me happy.  Some girls love new shoes, I love new computers.  Okay I actually love new shoes too, but you get the point. 

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Now we are changing and getting ready to head back out to Diana and Dan’s housewarming party!  I am missing the beach and Casey’s family already, but I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to get even just a short visit. 

Happy weekend!

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31 Comments so far
Leave a comment

kelly     at 6:47 pm

That’s what I get at Qdoba! :) So yummy..and I think you get more food since you leave out the tortilla!


Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen)     at 7:14 pm

I haven’t been to Qdoba yet. We do Moe’s and that is definitely the way to order! I actually feel good after eating like that! Have fun tonight!


Michele     at 7:31 pm

I’m glad you made it home safe! Indy was the protector of your lettuce yesterday; he ate a lizard that was eying it suspiciously…


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Hahaha thank you and Indy for guarding the lettuce!


Katie Reed     at 7:44 pm

You’re moving to DC?!? I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and totally love it — we live in DC and I would love to do a blog meet up at some point when you arrive!

Happy weekend!


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

OMG! Such great news! I have ONE friend in DC, and will definitely be looking for more. :) We’re hoping to be there in September!


Ashley     at 8:49 pm

What a busy day!! I am obsessed with Chipotle, mmmm. I looove their veggies and our Chipotle has brown rice now. SO delish. I really like those PURE bars too…actually better than Lara. Glad you had fun at the beach!


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

BROWN rice? wow – i have to look for that!!


Chelsey     at 10:58 pm

I love Qdoba and Chipotle! It is by far my favorite place to go for “fast food” – going out for something “quick” is difficult when you’re veg and gluten/corn free!

I DESTROYED a burrito bowl the other day. Seriously. I almost started gnawing on my bestie’s too.

You guys buy new computers like it’s your job! Glad you had a fun trip!


Emilyeatsclean     at 11:45 pm

That was a quick beach trip…but I think I would drive a couple of hours just to see the beach for a couple of hours!! :) Glad the veggies are growing. I can’t wait for my pepper plant to pop out a pepper….I’ll be thrilled!!!


Amber K     at 12:00 am

That’s funny, to me, it always seems like the trip home goes so much faster than the ride to my destination. Probably because I just lay back and relax on the ride home, and I’m anxiously anticipating everything on the way there.


Sara (Running with Teaspoons)     at 2:27 am

I can’t think of a Qdoba nearby, but I looove Chipotle and am always trying to find ways to cut the calories (and fat)…. but I don’t think I could ever have Mexican with no cheese – cheese is my favorite food! I’ll have to try it some time :-)


Adrianne@ Flex-appeal     at 10:29 am

I LOVE this post Emily! Qudoba is my fave! I am going to try this next time. I’m excited!


Melissa @ HerGreenLife     at 1:44 pm

I agree — fast food Mexican makes a pretty great road food. You get vegetarian protein from the beans (and I think Moe’s has tofu, too) and healthy fats from the avocado. I discovered Moe’s on a trip to Arizona a few years ago.

I share your frustration with them charging extra for the veggies. If we skip cheese and other pricey “free” toppings, we should get more veggies as an even trade ;) That, and if they would just serve the food in real (non-disposable) bowls, I’d really be a happy camper!


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Moe’s DOES have tofu, which I LOVE! The charging for veggies infuriates me, since I am leaving off all of the expensive dairy items. Oh well, what can you do? :)


Dorry     at 2:06 pm

Great post Emily! I love fast food Mexican food as well and it’s my go-to. I recently had some good luck at Pei Wei which is a place I used to always avoid – but I got the Dan Dan noodle bowl with rice noodles instead of egg noodles and opted for tofu and veggies instead of chicken and sauce on the side. It was a HUGE portion (I know you and I both like big quantities :)) and so tasty!!


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

ooohh I’ve never heard of Pei Wei – I’ll check it out – thanks! :)


Kelly     at 3:29 pm

I’m glad you guys had a great time at the beach! The Pure bars are delicious. I’ve had them a few times. I have to echo what Dorry said about Pei Wei. Its the fast food version of P.F. Chang’s so they have a lot of similar menu items. I’ve eaten there several times in Raleigh with a friend who has Celiac’s disease because of its gluten-free menu. I have no idea where one is in Charlotte, but I’ve heard rumors there’s one around here somewhere.


MA*     at 8:45 pm

i absolutely adore this post. i frequent chipotle once a week minimum and always order the bowl. i recently started skipping the rice and getting a base of lettuce and beans (half pinto half black) with fajita veg, salsas and guac on top. it takes forever to order it that way, though, so i order it is as vegetarian bowl. then when i ask for half and half beans i have to immediately say “I KNOW ABOUT THE BACON IN THE PINTOS” to save them the trouble of their spiel.

pf’s has an extensive GF menu but my go to is the steamed veggie dumplings and an order of shanghai cucumbers. it is slightly frustrating that is costs about 12 bucks for what is approximately 14 cents worth of vegetables.

you are nice to share your info, though. last time i was at chipotle the lady next to me was all up in my biz about how i was ordering my stuff and i was super posessive of my knowledge. i should be nicer :)


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

haha you crack me up. love that you are protective of your personalized chipotle order. :)

at least they are telling you about the bacon in the pintos! the last time i went to moe’s i said, “i’ll take the vegetarian burrito bowl” and the girl replied, “so you want chicken?”



Tricia     at 8:54 pm

Just a tip on your basil plants…you should keep pinching the flowers off to keep them growing strong. Otherwise, they’ll think their time is up when they’re finished flowering.


Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

THANK YOU – i literally ran into the backyard and did this as soon as I read your comment. I had no idea! This is why I love blogs. :)


Sarah (Enjoying One Meal at a Time)     at 9:59 am

I just packed up and left the beach yesterday too :( I miss it already! The only good thing was going straight to the mountains after the beach. That lunch looks really good. May have to recreate that at home ;)


Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life)     at 9:48 am

Oh I love Qdoba! It’s reallllly hard for me to give up sour cream though… maybe I’ll try it… someday ;)

We have 4 computers between the two of us two… a bit silly, but we actually use them all! Our own computer lab, haha!


Sherry     at 10:51 am

I just came upon this post. Had to comment as I experienced the same at Chipotle yesterday. Got the salad with black beans, fahita vegs, salsa, corn salsa, and Guacamole. Had to ask to decrease the amount of guac. Oh and no rice as theirs is white. Very good and filling. Very happy to be able to work with what I had!


Molly     at 10:40 am

You should probably take a look at the nutritional calculator on qdobas website. According the calculator, the meal you just described is still 1045 calories. Just sayin… Take a look for yourself.



Caroline     at 1:21 pm

I followed your advice for the Qdoba meal today, and I just wanted to say thank you!!! It was delicious :)


Misty long     at 7:47 pm

Ok so on your comment about having to pay extra GET OVER IT use you brain when you say extra remember that’s going to cost you can you go into any other fast food or dine in and say you want extra and not get charged for the EXTRA duhh your not the only stupid ass that these kids have to deal with if you want to eat healthy that’s all and good but how dare you make a person feel bad and u know you do cause why would you post ohh Qdoba charges extra boo hoo if you want to complain about it why don’t you go home quit buying computers and cook your own damn meal bet you won’t get charged extra….. My two cents


Dan     at 9:31 pm

Hello fello Chipotle enthousiasts, I read this blog and it made my day. My friend and I just made a twitter account against Qdoba. It is called @qNOba give us a follow if you would like your day to be sprinkled with jolly tweets bashing Qdoba! Thanks guys!


How To Eat Healthy Qdoba – about food and health     at 3:44 pm

[…] Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » How to Build a Healthy Meal … – How to build a healthy meal at Qdoba: Step 1 … and not get charged for the EXTRA duhh your not the only stupid ass that these kids have to deal with if you want to eat healthy that’s all and good but how dare you make a person feel bad and u know you do cause why would you post … […]

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