When I was at university down in the deep South of studentville at Otago University, Nachos were a big time dinner. However, they were simply made with mince, pre-prepared tomato sauce, corn chips, cheese and sour cream if we had money! So there weren’t a lot of nutrients in the meal apart from iron coming from the beef mince and lycopene from the pasta sauce.
However, I have created some deliciously healthier nachos that make such a treat when you feel like something simple and soulful. Definitely not every day fare with the corn chips but they could be if you swapped out the corn chips for some brown rice or homemade tortilla chips. Just choose a good quality premium beef mince.
I’ve increased the nutrient content by adding in canned black beans which are a wonderful source of fibre and vegetarian protein. They also bulk out the meal and help to keep costs down by stretching the meal further without relying on the addition of extra beef. I’ve also added plenty of fresh herbs, baby greens, finely chopped broccoli and a simple sauce made from canned tomatoes and tomato paste. One of the best things about nachos is all of the little additions you can make to your plate. So I’ve included sliced sweet cherry tomatoes for freshness, creamy guacamole to provide those all-important monounsaturated fatty acids along with the grated cheese and sour cream because I just can’t imagine Nachos without them!
The key is portion size here and only using a handful or two of corn chips per person and finding a good quality corn chip that has as few ingredients as possible. This doesn’t make them healthy but it makes them a better choice than artificially flavoured corn chips with an ingredients list as long as my arm! I was meant to purchase unsalted corn chips but I got home and realised they were indeed salted so to save another trip out again, I just rolled with it. I don’t eat them every day so it’s not a huge deal but given the choice, I would buy unsalted!
Healthier Nachos – serves 4-6
1Tbspn avocado oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Dash chilli flakes or fresh chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Coarse iodised sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
500g premium beef mince
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls baby spinach
½ head broccoli florets, finely chopped
1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes
2 Tbspn tomato paste
1 handful each of fresh parsley and coriander, finely chopped
1-2 handfuls of plain unsalted corn chips per person
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Guacamole (I make mine by smashing one whole avocado with the juice of one lemon, coarse iodised sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes)
Fresh parsley and coriander
Heat the avocado oil in a deep pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and cumin and cook stirring for about 5 minutes.
Add the beef mince, salt and pepper and cook until browned (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly to break up the mince.
Add the black beans, spinach, broccoli, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs and stir everything together gently. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add extra water if necessary by filling the tomato can with a little water.
Take the lid off, taste and adjust any seasonings. Cook with the lid off for a further 5-10 minutes until thick.
To serve, place a handful of corn chips into the bottom of serving bowl or plate and top with the beef sauce. Top with cherry tomatoes, guacamole, grated cheese, sour cream and fresh herbs.