Eating Right-ish: The Healthier Version of Loaded Nachos

A chef shows us how to make chicken, bean and sauce drenched nachos that won't stop your heart.

nacho

Football season is in full swing, and you know what that means: Hours of sitting on the couch, drinking beer and eating stuff that’s terrible for you. Nachos are delicious, but they’re also a salt and fat bomb that gives your arteries the equivalent of a shoulder tackle from Brian Urlacher. But what are you going to do, not eat nachos? This is America, buddy. Rather than do something insane—like eat kale—we asked Drew Coleman, Executive Chef at Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles, to give us a healthier version of the classic face-filler. Over to you, Drew.

Healthier Loaded Nachos

Cheesy loaded nachos are a fan favorite when it comes to football season, but lots of cheese, fried tortilla chips and sour cream are not the best for your body. It’s impossible to substitute cheese or chips when making nachos, but making small tweaks to both ingredients can make this dish far healthier.

Oven-baked corn tortilla chips are a healthier alternative to deep-fried ones. When it comes to the cheese, you can reduce the overall calories by cutting some of the cheese and replacing it with nutritional yeast, a complete protein that has a cheesy parmesan taste. You can also use black bean puree, which adds more flavor and more moisture, while hiding the reduced amount of cheese. Finally, using nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream offers the tang, but with no fat and a good amount of protein. Here’s the recipe:

Baked Tortilla Chips:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stack all of the tortillas and cut them in sixths, then place them in a bowl and drizzle them with olive oil. Next, sprinkle them with salt, then toss to make sure the oil and salt are distributed evenly. Place the tortillas on two baking sheets in single layers and bake for about 15 minutes (rotate the trays halfway through cooking to make sure they’re cooked evenly). Depending on your oven, they may need a little more time—you’ll know they’re done when they are golden brown and crisp.

Nachos:

  • Baked Tortilla Chips
  • 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 can whole black beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
  • 2 avocados, pitted and chopped
  • 1 small tub of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeded and diced
  • 10 ounces shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Cheddar or a mix)
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 4 limes
  • 3 green onions, white and greens chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Step 1 – The Chicken

Place chicken breasts on plate. Mix one teaspoon of olive oil with the juice of one lime, then pour over the chicken breasts. Combine one teaspoon of ground cumin, one teaspoon of chili powder and one and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, then sprinkle on both sides of the chicken. Place it in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 30 minutes, then grill or bake the chicken until it is cooked through. While still warm, use a fork to shred the meat and set aside.

Step 2 – The Beans

In a small pot, heat one teaspoon of olive oil and add chopped garlic. Add one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of chili powder and one teaspoon of of salt to the garlic. Cook for a minute until the garlic and spices are aromatic, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Pour in the whole can of black beans and add a quarter of a can of veggie stock or water, then bring to a simmer. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and puree. If the puree resembles a thick paste, add the rest of the stock or water to loosen it up—you don’t want the puree to be too watery, but you should be able to pour it over the chips.

Step 3 – The Sauce

In a bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, serrano chilies, juice of 3 limes and two teaspoons of salt. You can add more salt to taste if you prefer. This is a chunkier version of pico de gallo.

Step 4 – The Loaded Nachos

Line a baking pan with foil (this will save you lots of clean-up time). Fill the pan with tortilla chips, making sure not to layer too much. Pour your black bean puree over the chips, making sure not to overly saturate one area. Sprinkle cheese and the nutritional yeast over the top, then add the shredded chicken. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted. Once out of the oven, top the nachos with the pico de gallo from step 3, and add chopped avocados. Place dollops of greek yogurt all over and garnish with green onions. Enjoy!