Guilt-Free Nachos

Guilt-free nachos FTW! Here’s an explanation behind my reasoning, nacho philosophy, and all that jazz:

Guilt-free nachos :: long live melty cheese!

I’m going to come right out and say it: there’s nothing healthy about fried corn tortilla chips. Yes you can buy natural ones cooked in healthy oils with non-gmo corn and all that jazz, but they still would never in a million years show up on a “foods you need to eat more of” list. Not by a long shot!

But me, I’ll take crunchy, salty tortilla chips over any other chip, so I simply don’t buy or snack on potato chips and allow these bad boys to be my indulgence. Sure potato chips are tasty, but they aren’t my favorite, so my version of moderation includes highlighting and enjoying my favorites and keeping the others out of the house to avoid over-indulgence of fatty snack foods.

This may not work for everyone but it works like a flipping charm for me.

But this post wasn’t meant to be a nutrition schpiel so let’s get back to the reason I sat down to write in the first place:

Nachos.  Glorious. Nachos.

I think it’s safe to say that I have them in some way shape or form on a weekly basis. Usually this is around the time that I have a TON of leftovers to use up or have exhausted my produce supply and need to eat straight from the pantry for a day. Is anyone else with me?

So what makes my nachos guilt-free? Toppings, Portions, and… well, they make me happy. And happy people don’t regret a darn thing.

legally blonde happy endorphins

Guilt-Free Nachos

1. Beans are not only mandatory for my nachos, but they have to freakishly outnumber the amount of cheese I use on said nachos.  Sometimes I’ll add a mix of refried and black beans but usually I just toss half a can’s worth of black beans on top of my chips.  These bad boys are so meaty you won’t miss actual meat!  Helloooo fiber!  You can even make them in the crockpot!

2. Green Salsa is another must.  I usually skip the conventional red and go straight for a jar of Mrs Renfro’s Green Salsa.  Green salsas are typically made with tomatillos… but this stuff is strictly jalapenos and onion.  It’s HOT yet ridiculously flavorful.  I put it on anything and everything.  Especially nachos.

3. I try to skip the sour cream and use thick & creamy greek yogurt instead. Fage’s plain nonfat greek actually tastes just like sour cream to me (while other brands remind me of dessert) and tastes AMAZING on top of nachos.  More filling protein?  Yes please!

4.  Duh, cheese  (remember this is me we’re talking about!) Meat… sugar… bread… I could give it all up in a hot second, but not cheese.  It’s my favorite.  One thing I have been working on with my queso addiction is to control the portion size I dive into.  I try to choose the most fragrant and flavorful varieties so I can use less but still get a ton of flavor, and I also came up with a little string cheese trick along the way.  To control the amount of cheese I pile on to my snacks or meals, I’ll sometimes just grab a cheddar-mozz swirled string cheese and grate it onto my food.  It melts like a champ but doesn’t allow me to go for a second or third handful of the shredded stuff.  In fact, I don’t even purchase shredded cheeses anymore.  They have a weird mold-inhibiting antibiotic in them so If I avoid them like the plague and and grate my own.  Done and done.

5. Duh, veggies! If I have them on hand, they’re going on my nachos.  Avocado, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, White Yellow Red and Green onion, the list goes on and on.  Usually no two plates of nachos are ever the same because of the varying availability of veggies in my house.  Never a dull meal =)

6. Paul’s trick: when I was sick with the plague last week we ran out of food, and I was  not only STUFFY, but STARVING. To help me with my ridiculously stuffy nose, paul doused a plate of nachos with jalapeno salsa, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. It unstuffed my nose almost immediately (helloooo capsaicin!) and actually slowed me down from eating too fast. Def plan on adding them to more dishes from now on =)

Guilt-free nachos :: long live melty cheese!

Whoo! That was a long one, eh?

Gold stars and high-fives for anyone that stayed with me til the end!

If you’re as crazy as I am for nachos, try my irish nachos on for size. They use homemade baked russet or sweet potato “chips” as the base and are loaded with all your favorite toppings!

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  • Kayla

    for a very healthy version, i’ve also made my own “sweet-potato” chips by thinly slicing sweet potato and baking until crispy as i can get them without burning. wait for them to cool a bit, and then add all your toppings and re-bake! 

    and a quick veggie hint that i love: i sometimes caramelize my onions before adding them on top. nomnom (:

    however, i LOVE the bean idea! i think its absolutely fab. i’ve also made very healthy veggie chilli before (with lots of beans) and used it as a topping

  • So curious to see if this works! *testing*

  • carrieskoll

    Here’s my test comment. 🙂

  • ahhhh we moved and I don’t have a Wegmans anymore! I might try and order them online though! They sound awesome!

  • I agree completely, tortilla chips make everything better!  My absolute favorite tortilla chip is
    PLOCKY’S ~LOUISIANA PEPPA~ RED BEANS ‘N RICE variety.  Oh my gosh they are light crispy spicy heaven.  Every time I serve them people ask where I got them. If you serve them with hummus and it takes it to a whole new level.  I get them at Wegman’s.  Oh, and did I mention they only have in a one ounce serving , they have 129 calories, only 4 grams of fat, and 2 grams protein!  YUMMY and GUILT FREE!  You must try these. 

  • Kristi

    Now I’m craving nachos..  I’ve also made it a goal of mine for this week to get my hands on that salsa.  I’ve never seen it before…but it looks so so good!

  • Haha – first of all, GREAT quote and screen cap, I love that movie! And secondly, thanks for a recipe for healthy nachos – I am ALL for healthifying typical guilty treats!

  • Mellissa Sevigny

    Ha ha!  Thanks for the support!  I’ll be browsing your recipes for some good ideas and if I get stumped I’ll give you a shout!  Not going to do this forever (that’s what I keep telling myself when I get a craving anyway) but for now I’m going strong and plan to try to keep the momentum!  May require cheering on in the near future though so thanks!  XOXO

  • Go Melissa! <3 If you ever need a random idea for what to do with a particular veg just holla at me! =) Keep me posted on your progress and lmk if you ever need to be cheered one! hehe i’m good at that! love ya girly!
    and hooray for mass amounts of delish seasonal cauli!

  • Mellissa Sevigny

    Sadly, half a sweet potato would probably equal 3 days worth of my
    current net carb (total carbs – fiber) limit which is about 20 grams a
    day right now!  I’m not going to stay this strict forever though.  Just
    for as long as I can stand it and the weight is dropping off fast and
    then I’ll start adding back things like sweet potatoes and whole grains a
    little at a time.  Meanwhile I’m eating tons of cauliflower (just read
    your post on mashed cauliflower a few minutes ago and laughed – close to
    eating my weight in it this week alone – so yummy!), avocados,
    mushrooms, kale, artichokes, spinach, etc and nowhere near as much meat
    and cheese as I thought I would when I started.  After a few bites I
    just get sick of the texture.  Not a bad thing for a die hard carnivore
    such as myself!  Probably should cut back a bit on the dairy, that’s my
    most caloric heavy indulgence right
    now.  But since I’m dropping weight fast I’m not too concerned – blood
    pressure excellent, tons of energy , etc, etc.  It makes up for no
    tortilla chips and bourbon.  Mostly.  🙂

  • lol whatever makes you happy! <3 I like to eat them OFTEN so I healthify mine for extra nutrients.

  • Ooh gotcha! That’s awesome that you are reaching your goal! =) Can you have sweet potatoes?

  • Ooh gotcha! That’s awesome that you are reaching your goal! =) Can you have sweet potatoes?

  • Mellissa Sevigny

    I cut out all refined carbs, starchy veg, sugar and alcohol.  sigh.  But I’m eating lots of other veggies and plenty of protein so that’s good.  I can technically eat all the cheese my heart desires (so they say) but that just feels wrong so I don’t go crazy – plus what’s the point if I can’t have them on my favorite nachos? (she types sadly)  On the happy side, I’m dropping weight which is always fun so it evens out!  🙂

  • That salsa is my fav! I get it all the time. I use it with the jalapeno (green) hot sauce. Yum. I need any excuse to eat nachos so this post totally works for me. 🙂

  • When I eat stuff like nachos I never care how healthy it is… maybe I should. LOL!

  • Naturally Sweet Recipes

    Love this! It looks delicious and definitely guilt free!

  • oh yes! Homemade all the way! Plus they taste better at home too!

  • Whoohooo! Thanks Curt! =)

    Def try the string cheese! I had to swear off the reduced fat cheeses for the melting issues AND when they turned to POWDER in my tortilla soup. It was like they were made up of sand or something — freaked me out! lol! Stick with the real stuff and enjoy! <3

  • ahhhh Bruno! Love that pup! =) And I’m so glad you love the recipe! I think I might make another batch tonight! I have a cauli in the fridge begging to be eaten! hehe

  • Yes!!!! so glad you’re with me on that! =)

  • ahhh oh no! which carbs did you cut out? [and i’m with ya on the cheese, sometimes I want a mountain of the stuff!]

  • The kind of meat we should be eating (the local, pasture raised, grass fed, free range antibiotic/hormone/additive-free type) is SO SO SO expensive! Hooray for embracing beans! I’m loving them more and more with each dish =) And yes they’re awesome for us! win win

  • Let me know how it goes! I hope you can tolerate it too!!!! =) Fingers crossed!

  • oh gosh — the whole point of the post is to encourage everyone to not feel guilty about eating their favorite foods! I would view what you made as healthy!!!!! Don’t stress it – just enjoy!!!! <3 We wouldn’t be alive without food, so let’s celebrate it! xo

  • I’m going to give sharp cheddar a try…thanks for the suggestion!   Makes sense since it’s a pretty hard cheese.   🙂

  • Lexie

    Warning; this is NOT guilty free, but hey, it was delicoius! I would have the con tortilla chips that were rounded so you could stuff things inside; we had beans and long grain rice cooked with paprika/cumin/tomato sauce, then a big stuffing of guacamole, then a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. You cannot understand how good it is. It makes me heart break to even think about it. And it has every food group in it…so…that’s healthy….

  • Also, I’m totally with you on swapping out beans for meat. It’s been my new favorite trick recently since meat doesn’t usually fit into my budget and, quite frankly, beans are probably better for me anyway!

  • Haha, your “happy people don’t regret a damn thing” made me think of my best friend – sounds like something she would say! =) And I totally agree – it’s not about cutting out “bad” foods, but thinking about things like portion size and making some healthy swaps! Love it.

  • OMG this is right up my alley!  Nachos are my favorite guilty pleasure – I’d take a plate of nachos over potato chips, chocolate, ice cream, pizza or anything!  Of course mine usually have WAAAYYYYYY more cheese on them than yours!  But I like your idea of the string cheese for portion control!  And greek yogurt instead of sour cream – duh!  Can’t believe I never thought of that!  Mmmm…wish I was eating some nachos right now!  Stupid low carb diet!  aaah!

  • nicoleandgwendolyn

    my favourite quote from legally blonde!  yes!  remember bruno?  🙂  i’m not making nachos tonight.  i’m rather doing an encore of your fab fab fab fabulous mashed cauliflower recipe!  i hope to see more fabulous vegetable recipes in the future because your exquisite mashed cauli post seriously has changed my life forever!  delish x 999999999! x

  • Oh these look so good!! I also like green salsa and would choose tortilla chips over potato chips!

  • Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.

    I agree. I much prefer tortilla chips to potato chips. Especially when served with copious amounts of homemade guac. I could make a meal out of it! These nachos look tasty! Great tip with the greek yogurt. I’m gonna give that a try next time.

  • another reason why we’re friends =) hehe LOVE

  • Kasey

    These look so YUMMY!! ahhh <3 great post & picture, as ALWAYS! ;]

  • I love guac and salsa on my nachos.  These look gorgeous!

  • YUM!  MY favorite topping is anything spicy – I add red pepper flakes to everything.  And sriracha.

  • Kris

    YUMMY!!! i love nachos!!! i do the greek yogurt instead of sour cream with everything, so yummy!!

  • Wow, this looks great!  I love nachos and a healthy version even better!  I am going to give these a try!!

  • Curt D

    Gold star for me, I read the entire post and enjoyed it. I like the way you write! You crack me up!

    I love black beans, and am glad that some things I love are actually good for me. My wife always buys the reduced fat cheese, but it doesn’t melt very well. I’ll have to try the shredded string cheese.

  • Tasha @ Dine & Dash

    avocado! hands down. then black beans. then jalapeno. Favorite topping used to be cheese until my stomach started to hate cow cheese…I can deal with small amounts but because of that I rarely have it on hand.
    pita chips are cool but there is NOTHING like a tortilla chip!”It unstuffed my nose almost immediately (helloooo capsasin!) ” thanks for teaching me a new word. I def had to google it. 🙂

  • Lauren

    Yum!  Restaurant nachos strike fear to my heart so homemade is totally the way to go!

  • Run with Jess

    I’m with you – LOVE tortilla chips… especially the new whole grain ones, not that they’re better for you or anything but I love the flavor.  Toppings?  Um, everything?  I like nachos yes, but spinach artichoke dip is my downfall… oh, wait – chicken buffalo dip.  Damn, now I’m hungry…

  • bahahaha and I totally just realized I spelled capsaicin wrong in my post! whoooops! =)

    its my most favorite “food drug” b/c it has these wonderful anti-inflammitory properties and its GOOD for us! <3 whoo! I have a history of sinus probs so its my bff

    thanks tasha! avocado is a fav of mine too – guac for days!

  • aww that means so much to me! Thanks Ann!!!!

  • You really gave these some thought.  I think this might be my favorite post you’ve ever written!  I love nachos, but never considered changing them – just avoiding them and occasionally scarfing down too much!  Beautifully done – gold stars to YOU!

  • katherinhe H
  • Lauren

    delish! I need to try greek yogurt on more things!

  • Kim Bee

    I’ll take that gold star and a nice big plate of these nachos. 

  • I haven’t made them with shredded chicken in yeaaaaaaaars but if you shred the chicken in a mix of salsa and enchilada sauce it is awesome! But i’m a bean girl these days so I vote salsa and beans for the win! <3 hehe love ya girly!

  • That dish looks heavenly.  And I like the idea of using greek yogurt.  I’d personally still like some shredded chicken in there, but I don’t even think it would be necessary!  Yours look amazinngg!

  • Hey stranger! I think I remember you telling me about your salsa love affair! I haven’t found the right red yet but I could drink this green salsa — what’s your favorite brand?

  • my husband is used to getting denied meat =) bahaha! I keep it in the house but he has to make it himself.. so he eats veggie with me 90% of the time. keeps his belly off <3 have a great weekend carly!

  • whooo! thanks girl! Happy to help! =)

  • I love your little tips  and your nachos look so good. Awesome tip about the yogourt and the cheese string!!!

  • These look delicious and healthy- Yum!  The Greek yogurt is a great idea.

  • Carly Moorehead

    Those sound good! I would never have thought to make nachos with no meat (since that is basically punishable by death with my boyfriend, haha) but I could definitely make his meat separately and let him dip his meat if he wants… thanks for the idea!

  • I have never really liked potato chips and the like, or even tortilla chips that much, but I do like tortilla chips because they are a vessel for my VERY fave- salsa. We go through jars and jars of salsa in the winter, and gobs and gobs of tomatoes and onions and garlic in the summer!

  • Aww I am too! I can have certain dairy but things like milk and mozzarella bite back! Can you tolerate sharp cheddar? that usually is on par with parm for me and doesn’t hurt my stomach. I think some crazy percentage of the population is lactose intolerant — I read once 82% of the world’s population is but most don’t know it! yowza!

    Thanks for the sweet comment Cheryl! <3 Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  • They look just terrific.  My problem is that I’ve developed an intolerance to lactose so cheese can deal me fits.  And I LOVE cheese.  I can actually have a small amount of very hard cheeses like parm/regg so I think I’ll use that.  Not melty but better than no cheese.  Thanks for pointing out that you can have delicious nachos without all the fat and calories!

  • Kiri W.

    That’s the most interesting decongestant I’ve heard of in a while 😉

  • Gothextramileblog

    Yummm!! I am more of a pita chip with hummus girl ;D But these still look amazing!

  • haha I love it! I never eat chocolate pie… so if i was I would just say “well i havent had this in years!” hehe instant happy! <3 Hooray for squashing guilt!

  • =) Thanks Jean!

  • Jean @ Flower Hill

    This looks absolutely delicious and I will definitely be adding this to my list of weekly indulgences!

  • Pamela

    I can eat black beans on anything!  And I can do without the sour cream.  And I always say, “Well I could be eating a piece of chocolate pie.”  That magically erases the guilt!

  • Some days you just need a pile of cheese =) True story. myself especially! hehe

  • Lori Lynn

    Yum! Looks really good!

  • Jessica Bailey

    yummm! Now I want nachos! Love your idea of yogurt instead of sour cream.  I LOVE sour cream, but yogurt is way healthier.  I may have to try this asap. 

    I definitely doubt I would have as much self control in the cheese department.  I love cheese! LOL

  • Yes to everything! Last night Joe was craving nachos (even though I had made him taco salad the night before—he said it just ignited his craving more)…and we were too lazy to go to the store, so he had to make do with what we had. Meh. 
    Getting the good stuff for toppings is key!  Love the cheese stick trick 🙂

  • Abigail Fine

    Definitely a tortilla chips girl.  Those look amazing!!!

  • Nachos have to be my favorite snack!  I can do nachos loaded with stuff or just plain torilla chips with cheese!  SO good!

  • I’m with you on your love for tortilla chips! They’re delicious. 
    I’ve made homemade tortilla chips a few times but I prefer pita chips when it comes to making them myself. Both are delicious though! 
    I love your healthified nachos. So yummy looking! And the perfect comfort food, in my opinion. (:

  • I’ve always been terrified to do so! In my head i’ll burn them or they wont taste right — but if you love them that may be reason enough for me to try it out!!! =) I bet even making corn tortillas from scratch could be fun. and by fun, I mean terrifying =) bahaha! love ya!

  • I like baking my own tortilla chips from regular old corn tortillas — I add just a tiny bit of olive oil and it’s SO much cheaper that way — and maybe healthier!

  • bahahaha right?!? We read somewhere that nasal saline sprays with capsasin from peppers works better than medications so paul just fed me every pepper we had! =) we’re so crazy

  • I am a huge nachos fan and I definitely think they can be made healtheir, like you have done here!  I really enjoyed reading this post.  And now I’m craving nachos really badly!

  • These nachos look DELICIOUS! I love your idea for great yogurt!

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