8 ways to make healthier nachos
Nachos follow all the rules of the most popular comfort foods – they’re carbohydrate-based, deep-fried, cheese plays a central role, and you can top them with anything. Unfortunately, those same qualities tend to make it a nutritional nightmare.
Still, the premise behind these finger foods makes them too appealing to be avoided altogether. Being easy to prepare with whatever is on hand would be how the dish was originally invented, according to one October 2020 article in The New York Times. Their creator, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, wasn’t even a chef, but he had a burst of creativity when a group of women stopped by the hotel in northern Mexico where he was working for a snack of. late evening after the kitchen closes. Anaya came up with a combination of corn chips, cheese and pickled jalapeño which was an instant hit. That was seven decades ago, and its namesake snack now has iterations around the world (in Quebec, you can find poutine nachos, for example).
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While restaurants often market nachos as an appetizer, an order often contains an appetizer-sized amount of calories, saturated fat, and sodium. The Neighborhood nachos with beef at Applebee, for example, will set you back nearly 2,000 calories, 55 grams (g) of artery-clogging saturated fat and 4,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium – almost double the daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. Drive-thru options aren’t much better: Nachos BellGrande from Taco Bell contains over 700 calories, 6 g of saturated fat and over 1,100 mg of sodium.
Yet one of the advantages of nachos is their versatility. If you make them yourself, you can control the toppings and therefore the nutritional quality. And nacho toppings can be a great way to squeeze in servings of veggies, plant protein, and other healthy nutrients, while also satisfying your craving for crunchy, gooey snack foods. Done right, nachos can even be a great lazy meal – or, yes, a dessert.
These healthier versions, which we call ‘the things’, will show you how you can appeal to your taste buds and your health goals at the same time.
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