I wasted a lot of time thinking about nachos these past few weeks. I spent a lot of time talking to friends, and considering how to make nachos “healthier”…and then I really sat down and thought about it. No one is going to make my sweet potato nachos. No one is going to make tortillas from scratch. No one is going to put spirulina or dried kale on their nachos. What’s the point?
Nachos are nachos. There’s no way around it. You can change them up and dress them differently, but then they’re just sad nachos and everyone eating them is sad too. Don’t be sad. BE BALANCED.
Nachos are for parties! Unless you’re having a party every single day (which, if you are, please contact me-I want to be friends), don’t stress. Have a few real, cheesy, awesome nachos. Awe-chos. It’s all about balance.
I didn’t want to spread the sadness. But, as a Nutritionist, I figured I look at the better nacho options. It’s my job. Let’s break it down and happily figure this out:
Nachos are made up of three main components. Chips. Cheese. Toppings. In each of those categories, I can find you better options that won’t put a damper on your social shindig. I promise.
Tortilla chips. Authentic nachos are corn tortillas deep fried and salted.
How to switch it up:
Get multigrain and baked tortillas (lower in salt if possible). They have the same crunch, same pockets to hold cheese. And ta-da, you’ve got yourself a healthier base. Step one, check.
Nachos are usually topped with some sort of cheese-like sauce that ends up being slightly plastic-y and stuck on the roof of your mouth. Probably doesn’t contain much actual cheese.
How to switch it up:
I would stay away from any cheese SAUCE. Go for the real stuff here. Sauces tend to be loaded with extra oils, maltodextrin, starches, sugars and artificial flavours. The type of cheese you choose counts.
This is your time to be a purest. Use real cheese. And use two kinds. One for meltiness and one for bite. I like gruyere or Monterey jack for ooze and super old cheddar for the zip! By using two kinds, you look fancy AND you can use less of both! The sharper the cheese, the less you have to use.
This one is easy right? The original nachos (I mean, ever) had one topping. Jalapenos. Nowadays, anything goes. But typically if you order nachos at a restaurant they’re going to come with meat, sour cream, salsa, refried beans, guacamole, etc.
How to switch it up:
Keep it simple. Hot peppers, onions, olives, tomatoes, salsa…these are all excellent options. Tag in Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and make your own guac by just mushing up some fresh avocados. Refried beans are a sodium nightmare but feel free to toss some black beans on top for some authentic Mexican flair. Serve it all on the side if you have friends with many different tastes. OMG guys-a Nacho BAR. No one can be unpopular if they have a nacho bar, am I right? Put it all out there and let everyone make their own choices!
One more thing… forget piling on the layers and making more work for yourself. Make these babies on a big baking sheet and do one massive layer (or two baking sheets). That way every chip gets some lovin’ and no one gets the dreaded chips in the middle that are lonely and sad.
Enjoy your nachos! Just try not to eat them every day. Balance. If you can fit nachos into your balanced life, than you have no reason to feel guilty. Therefore, these should be guilt-free (not sad) nachos.
Speaking of sad, you’re not sad, are you? I’m certainly not. But I am hungry! NACHOOOOOOO!
We are lucky to live in a world with so many options, aren’t we? But they’re so darn confusing sometimes. The Internet is a wonderful wealth of knowledge but can be intensely conflicting. One site says “it’s healthy,” the other says: “avoid it!” Thank goodness I’m here to help you sort this stuff out.
With health concerns and allergies, many of us are steering (see what I did there?) away from dairy. But which dairy alternative do you choose? I have the most popular cow’s milk alternatives and all the glorious information in one place so you can make an informed decision. Here goes!
Let’s start with dairy milk so we can compare. All information will be for 1 cup (250ml) of unsweetened milk:
Fat: 5g Calories: 122 Sugar: 12g Protein: 8g
Organic, grass-fed cow’s milk contains more omega-3 fats, vitamin E and beta-carotene, which makes it a better choice if you decide (or are able to) drink cow’s milk. My rating: 5/10…average.
Fat: 3.5g Calories: 40 Sugar: >0.5g Protein: 1.5g
Almond milk can be made at home with ground almonds and water or purchased in a carton. Be careful of buying sweetened or flavoured almond milks (Watch out for ORIGINAL, they are usually sweetened). There would be no benefit to drinking this milk if you fill it up with sugar. Also, the benefit of making your own at home is there are no additives like carrageenan (a thickener). My rating: DELICIOUS
Fat: 4g Calories: 80 Sugar: 1g Protein: 7g
Soy, and therefore, soy milk, is a hot topic these days. Many people are avoiding soy because of GMO claims, hormone issues, cancer concerns or thyroid function. Lots of research is still being conducted. Do your own research and don’t drink or eat soy if you won’t sleep at night. If finding a cleaner, organic or non-gmo soy based product will make you feel better, then by all means-go for it. My rating: 6/10 because it’s a little boring.
Fat: 4.5g Calories: 45 Sugar: 0g Protein: 0g
This is for the stuff that comes in the carton, not the can. There is WAY more (delicious) fat in the can, but we’re talking stuff to put on your cereal, yes? Be aware and read your labels! Not all coconut milks are created equal. Some will be high in fat because they’ll contain the coconut cream as well. Others have additives and sweeteners. Basic coconut milk is full of vitamins and excellent for your health. Go coconut! My rating: 9/10
Fat: 2.5g Calories: 70 Sugar: >1g Protein: 0g
Rice milk is thin and not incredibly interesting but it’s easy on the stomach and a great alternative for allergy sufferers. Rice milk is higher in carbohydrates than some other alternatives and doesn’t offer much in terms of vitamins and minerals. Good for babies because there’s not much flavor-just be sure they’re getting their protein and nutrients elsewhere. Okay for baking if you need something dairy-free. My rating: Bleh.
Fat: 5g Calories: 60 Sugar: 0g Protein: 2g
Deliciously creamy and yes, higher in fat, but a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. And no sugar! I’m a big fan of this milk for everything. Smoothies, baking, on cereal-any time you need milk. My rating: 10/10 because yummmmmmm.
Fat: 2.5g Calories: 130 Sugar: 19g Protein: 4g
Oat milk is a fantastic alternative because it can easily be made at home-there are multiple recipes on the interweb. It’s naturally sweet and full of vitamins. I’m a big fan of oat-based items so for taste, I give this one a big thumbs up. My rating: 7/10…it would be higher except for that sugar content.
Fat: 2g Calories: 25 Sugar: 0g Protein:>1g
Cashews are the best part of mixed nuts, so it’s no surprise that this milk is super yummy and ultra-versatile. The fat content is lower than you would expect, so this is an excellent option. Cashew milk is high in magnesium which is helpful in supporting bone health, hair, nails and even our gums. Yes please! My rating: Cashew milk is the business.
With some newer options such as hemp and cashew milk, you don’t have to stick to boring rice and soy milk anymore. They’re great backups if you need an alternative in a pinch, but try something new and get ultimate nutrition and tastiness.
You’ll notice almost all the alternatives milks are lower in fat, but what concerns me is sugar. Oat milk is very high, but do remember these are natural sugars… also, if you’re making oat milk yourself, the sugar content will vary greatly.
There you have it-all the information in one place. Whether you’re going dairy-free for allergy reasons or health concerns, or just lowering your dairy intake to change things up this year, you can make an informed decision on what to drink…or which one to try first. My vote is for hemp! And not just because I'm half a hippie, it's delicious!
You know when you open up a can of chick peas and drain all that goo away?
You know that garbage?
IT MAKES AWESOME WHIPPED CREAM.
And it tastes amazing. Really. You have to try it. And you can't mess it up.
Surprise your guests! They'll never know. It can be your little secret.
I bet you have some sitting in your cupboard right now. Go ahead. I dare you.
In a stand up mixer with a whisk attachment, add all ingredients. Yup, throw them all in. This stuff isn't delicate.
Whisk on low for a minute and then turn it up to medium.
Walk away and set the timer for 10 minutes. Nothing will happen if you overmix it. It's FOOLPROOF.
You're welcome. And I'm sorry.