Loaded Healthy Nachos with Beef and Homemade Tortilla Chips
A homemade healthy beef nachos recipe with baked tortilla chips and all the fixins! Here’s a hearty portion of your favorite appetizer for only 374 calories!
Consider these something you didn’t know you needed, but now will never be able to live without. Sort of the way of all nachos, though. I seem to consistently forget how much I love a good cheesy pile of nachos — and instead order fajitas (what’s my deal with fajitas?) — and then someone in my life will go and order nachos on a Friday night, and all of a sudden…
Everyone else will have moved on and I’ll be left staring at the cheesy bits left behind on the plate, nodding my head as if to decide that OK, yes, I’m ready to forsake every other food for the rest of my life…for nachos.
There’s just one snag. Nachos aren’t the lightest. Once in a while? Great. Once a week? Well…
If we don’t cut a few calorie corners, that stack of chips, cheese, beef, and sour cream starts adding up. And then we find ourselves at Target wondering why the jeans with the soft elastic waistband is exclusively maternity.
Of course cheese is essential to nachos, but when you’ve got lots of other toppings — like spiced ground beef, tomatoes, sour cream, and black olives — you don’t need to rely on tons of cheese to feel satisfied flavor-wise. Also, remember that grating a block of cheese yourself is ideal!
3. Use half the beef…and add more veggies.
I love seasoned ground beef nachos, but I can get by with a lot less of it if I cook it with chopped mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers. The finely chopped veggies mimic the texture of the crumbled beef and cooking them in the pan alongside the beef allows them to pick up all of the same flavors. All the volume with roughly half the calories.
4. Swap low-fat sour cream for full-fat.
Because I take nachos very, very seriously, I’ve offered you 2 baking options: 1 where you spread out your chips on 2 baking sheets, top them more precisely, and then bake. This method gives you a crisper chip. The second method is a messier pile, where you layer the chips, then the beef, then the cheese, and repeat once more. The merits of this style is that it’s a little more fun and you achieve a kind of smothered nacho effect. Do what makes you happy!
When it comes to toppings, I always choose the classics: sliced jalapeño, black olives, sour cream, and chopped tomatoes. I prefer the freshness of chopped tomatoes to jarred salsa, but if you want to go with something prepared for the sake of ease, try store-bought pico de gallo.
For just 374 calories per serving, I’m giving nachos the green light to be an anytime food. This is either really good or really bad and I can’t tell right now because they’re in front of me so I’m delirious.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into 8 triangles and spread them evenly among 2 baking sheets. Spray with cooking oil, season liberally with salt, and bake until crisp and light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Check the chips at 5 minutes to ensure they don’t burn and remember that you will be baking them more when you melt the cheese later, so you don’t want them too brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the chips cool and harden on a wire cooling rack while you make the beef. Keep the oven on.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and stir to coat the beef and veggies. Add the tomato sauce, stir well to combine, and bring the pan to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and the flavors have had a chance to blend and intensify, about 10 minutes.
Baking method 1: If you want to layer your nachos: Scatter half of the chips on the baking sheet, spoon half of the beef mixture over the top, followed by half of the cheese. Add the remaining half of the chips, followed by the rest of beef, and finish by sprinkling evenly with the remaining half of the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Top with sour cream, black olives, fresh cilantro, and sliced jalapeno, and serve!
Baking method 2: If you want to spread them out (to maintain crispy chips): spread the chips among the two baking sheets evenly. Spoon the beef mixture among the chips, trying to spoon beef onto each chip. Don’t worry if some falls on the baking sheets. Sprinkle the cheese evenly among the chips. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Top with sour cream, black olives, fresh cilantro, and sliced jalapeno, and serve!