Nutritious Nachos

Nutritious Nachos? Lighten up for Cinco de Mayo!

Nachoes web

By Lisa Messinger
Photo courtesy of Plant Power

When you think of nachos, if you focus on large platters of chips topped with heaps of meat, cheese and sour cream, think again. The appetizer, snack or meal that’s always been a decadent restaurant favorite is a quick-prep treat at home, too. The even better news is that choosing your own foundations and toppings means that not only can good flavor be at your fingertips, but good nutrition, as well.

Consider some favorite options:

Foundations: stone-ground organic tortilla chips, whole-wheat crackers, toasted whole-grain pita pieces, rice crackers, whole-grain rye crackers

Toppings: kale, spinach, basil, corn, mushrooms, grated carrots, pinto beans, black beans, humus, pesto

Creative vegan cook Nava Atlas gives her nachos tasty and healthful twists that will probably have any nacho lover giving thanks. Give them a try:


Yields 4 to 6 servings.

About 5 ounces natural, stone-ground organic tortilla chips
1 cup grated cheddar or nacho-style nondairy cheese
1 to 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced, or 1 (4-ounce) can diced mild green chilies (see note below)
½ cup lightly cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
½ cup cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) black, red or pinto beans
1 medium ripe fresh tomato, finely chopped
About 3 big handfuls baby spinach, rinsed well

Optional toppings, to taste:
Lightly cooked sliced mushrooms
Vegan sour cream

Preheat oven to 350° unless you plan to use the microwave.

Arrange the tortilla chips on a large platter or a shallow round casserole dish about 14 inches in diameter. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese, followed by the chili peppers, corn, beans and tomato.

Bake for about 8 minutes, until the cheese is well melted, or microwave for 3 minutes on high or less (making sure it is not burning or getting too well done).

Scatter the spinach over the top and return to the oven for about 2 minutes, just until it wilts (or to the microwave for another one minute or less, just until it wilts, and checking that it is not getting too well done).

Serve immediately, letting diners add their own optional toppings.

Note: Experts recommend wearing latex gloves when handling fresh peppers and not touching your eyes during or afterward. ­—Plant Power by Nava Atlas

Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including “Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook” and “The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook.”

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