Loaded Healthy Nachos

I’ve been going to the movies since I was an embryo. Remember that opening scene in Look Who’s Talking? Inside Kirstie Alley’s pregnant belly? That was me in the theater. And I’ve been going, at least once a week, ever since. Twenty five years.

My mom likes to tell me that I never once cried or made a scene. Except that time when I was five, seeing Cape Fear, and I threw up in the popcorn bucket. Such a waste of otherwise perfectly buttered corn. The fact that I was five and seeing an R-rated movie that may or may not frighten the Marlboro Man, himself? Not a concern.

I was accustomed to the scary scene. My brother can be thanked for that. Letting me watch Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, and Poltergeist, as frequently as he crashed Micro Machine cars into the backs of my ankles.

My parents didn’t believe in the rating system. Or maybe they did. I guess putting her hand over my eyes in Pulp Fiction was my mom’s attempt at censorship. And I think I got fair warning in Fatal Attraction. But not to worry. I understood things at an early age: Sex is dirty, drugs are fine, guns are illegal, killing rabbits is bad. And affairs? Dicey.

I’m lucky, really, to have seen all I have in the theater. I like to think of myself as a movie buff. Having seen the classics, extensively studied film history in both the United States and in Italy, spent more hours surfing IMDb than I care to admit, and told Leonardo DiCaprio I love him in person, I think I’ve earned the title.

What’s as vivid for me as the films themselves are the movie theater concessions. The grease soaked paper bags popping over with corn. Extra butter please! No, really, at least two more pumps. Cardboard boxes the size of my checkbook filled with candy- Snow Caps most notably. A fountain soda reminiscent of a keg. Sprite to be tapped in under an hour of run time. All that was munchable in the darkness of the theater. I can still feel that excitement as I spied my mom opening her sack of a pocketbook to uncover our snuck-in stash of Reese’s Pieces and Kit Kats. Notice the plural.

‘Going to the show,’ as my mom calls it, meant two hours of hand to snack to mouth. And it was glorious. The projection on screen as engaging as licking my fingers. As if I’d just exfoliated with a salt scrub and lotioned with butter. One hell of a spa treatment.

I found giving up that dimly lit dining to be tough. Severing the connection between mindlessly eating four pounds of popcorn, a stick of butter, a candy bar, and a Coke, took some getting used to. Because though it had been oodles of fun, it was mindless. It’s one thing to sit down, fork in one hand, knife in the other, and get down with food. But to nibble your way through 120 minutes of entertainment and not really remember whether you just ate one Snickers or two- that’s a different story. And a sadder one at that.

The thing is, I loved movies enough to let them be the activity. To let Leo be the star of the show. It involved being present. Mindful in what I was doing. And honestly, after a few months of just watching the big screen, I felt an ease I didn’t know would come.

It’s not that movies can no longer involve popcorn, soda, and candy, it’s just that they can no longer look like my personal foray into the competitive eating circuit. Though if it paid well…

Since losing 135 lbs, I’ve retained some snackability. You might still find me with sticky chocolate fingers ten rows from the front, except nowadays I’m aware of what I’m ingesting, and I enjoy each and every morsel more than I ever did before.

These nachos pay tribute to the clear plastic containers of salted tortilla chips I used to crunch my way through in the theater. Only those ones featured a cup of cheese whiz, which I unabashedly love. This is my stab at making a healthy plateful of crisp chips mounded with cheese, spicy black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and sour cream. Four hundred calories of pure, cheesy bliss. The textures? Crunchy, squishy, creamy, and gooey. The flavors? Limey, spicy, salty, and sweet. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just about to press play on my VCR (because you know I stayed loyal to VHS). I’m hoping the nachos offset my king-sized Butterfinger.

To make these loaded, g0od-for-your-heart and soul nachos, I began with a large whole grain tortilla. This is a multigrain Flat Out wrap, it’s got a longer ingredient list than I’d like, a decent amount of fiber, and 100 calories.

Preheat your oven to broil.

Cut the tortilla into small triangles, the size of standard tortilla chips.

Lay the triangles on a wire rack set on top of a roasting pan, or simply place them on the roasting pan by themselves. Coat them generously with cooking spray and sprinkle them with a hefty pinch of salt. Broil for 4-5 minutes on one side, flip them and broil for another 1-2 minutes or until crisp and light golden brown.

Add 1 tsp olive oil to a small skillet set over medium heat.

Add 1/4 cup finely diced onion. Saute for 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

Add 1 minced clove of garlic and stir for 20 seconds.

Add 1/4 cup black beans.

Add 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes. I used halved sugarplum tomatoes, which are deliciously sweet.

Next, squeeze half of a lime over the pan. Sprinkle in 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chili powder.

Stir to combine and let the mixture cook for 1 minute, just to heat through.

Place the crisp tortilla chips in a pile on a foil lined roasting pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Pile the black bean and tomato mixture onto the center

Now, sprinkle the whole pile with 1/3 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (a combination of cheddar and pepperjack). Set under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

Carefully slide the nachos onto a plate, or simply eat them from the foil. Top with 1/4 of an avocado, diced, and a dollop of sour cream.



33 thoughts on “Loaded Healthy Nachos

  1. Nicole

    Love that you’re such a movie buff! :) I definitely go to the movies any chance I can get too. These nachos look so delicious, and I’ll be making them for the hubby sometime soon!

  2. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman

    I love going to the movies. My parents said that when I was two they took me to the movies and it was the first time I sat still for any length of time. I was like a statue in front of that screen. Me, my sister, and my mom love going to movies. In the summer we’d go a few times a week and sometimes for a double feature–because that’s always better than just seeing one.

    I consider myself a movie buff but my husband is so not, so now we’re re-watching all my favorite stuff so he can catch up.

    Yet another reason you and I would get along so well.

  3. Di

    Um, those nachos look SO SO good! I’ll have to give them a shot some time. :)

    I worked at a movie theater for awhile and you think that would make me not want to eat anything there having seen how things work behind the stand, but no, I still love movie theater popcorn. Sigh. I try to bring my own instead but that doesn’t always happen!

  4. Amy @ Second City Randomness

    Those nachos look 10x better than anything I ever consumed in the theater.

    And yep- I’ll still sneak in snacks to a movie. But I make a much more careful decision- whether that be careful as in healthy or careful as really zoning in on what sweet I want to indulge in, I think it’s much better to do it that way than just get whatever looks semi-decent at the concession stand…

  5. Shanna, like Banana

    Ahh yes the movies. It was definitely an excuse to eat with gusto every taboo thing in the world. I just went last week and ate an entire large popcorn by myself … Before the movie started. Gah!

  6. Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    Oooh, these look good!! Once again I am in awe of your actually meeting and conversing with Leo. The only famous face I have met was Patrick Kane. And he was super arrogant and rocking a mullet, so my opinion of that meeting is not too high. Anyhoo, wonderful post!!

  7. morganjanessa

    Mmmmmm yummy recipe for nachos! Ha ha, I had movie experiences like that too. Once I remember going to the store to buy a HUGE bag of mini PB cups, and ate them all at the move *YIKES* now it is all about moderation!

    Have you ever tried the Orvil Redinbachers Light Kettle corn popcorn, SO good!

  8. Wendy

    That looks fabulous! And 400 calories? Bliss! I collect 400 calorie recipes in my attempt to lose weight yet still eat well…. unfortunately my 400 and Under days are outweighed by days of not being so good. Still… nachos… my favourite!

  9. Conor @ HoldtheBeef

    I have too many memories of making myself a little sick from overindulgence at the movie theatre, most often from chocolate overload. The worst part was when you were a little messy (those damn choc bombs (chocolate coated ice cream cones) would always spill chocolate all over you!) and discovered you were covered in evidence of your snacking once the lights came on!

    These nachos look so very good. Love the DIY corn chips!

  10. Sean @ Learn Fitness

    Those nachos look amazing! I cant wait to make them for my wife and kids. I instapapered the recipe! I think I’ll make them next weekend when we watch a good movie at home … continue your theme ;)

  11. KellyAnne

    All of your recipes are so amazing! I have tried quite a few, and they all have turned out perfectly, so i’m really looking forward to making these. I think that they would be great to put out at a party, especially for health-conscious guests!

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  13. chefpriyanka

    these nachos look fabulous! I love that you sauteed the beans and onions (thats how I make them, and just smash them with a little water to make refried beans!). I have a gaucamole recipe that would go well with this yummy snack!

  14. NikNik

    Thanks for sharing both your story and your wonderful recipes. I found your blog this morning on FP and I’m very, very inspired by your writing and your story.

    I’m always looking for more healthful alternatives to my favorite recipes, and that’s just what I’m finding here. I really appreciate your attention to mindfulness too.

    Your blog really gives me a boost! Thank you.

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  18. debbie

    do you roughly know how many carbs this is?? it looks delicious but being a diabetic didnt know if its a meals worth of carbs or if an addition to a meal…thanks

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  22. Billy

    Healthy nachos? I’m in! Debbie focus more on the ratios of protein to carbs in your meal. If it’s to much carbs add more protein. Go for 50% protein 50% carbs in each meal.


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