Building a Better Nacho

485450169

485450169

Photo by: DebbiSmirnoff ©DebbiSmirnoff

DebbiSmirnoff, DebbiSmirnoff

This Tex-Mex favorite can rack up the calories and fat rather quickly. Instead of ruining your healthy eating plan, use these tips to lighten up this popular appetizer.

Holy Nacho Calories!

Head to the Cheesecake Factory and order the Factory Nachos with Spicy Chicken and that’ll cost you 965 calories, 31 grams of saturated fat, 52 grams of carbs and 1,390 milligrams of sodium. At home, the numbers can be similar if you pile on chili, sour cream, guac and other calorie-laden toppers. Making your own allows you to control the ingredients and portions so you can enjoy the game while indulging in a lightened-up version.

The Base

With a plethora of chips hitting market shelves, you can now find better-for-you varieties that are made with whole grains and contain more fiber. Some chips to choose from include:

Sprouted tortilla chips like Way Better Snacks Black Bean or Multigrain

Bean chips like Beanitos Black & White Skinny Dippers and The Good Bean Sweet Chili

Lentil chips like RW Garcia Lentil & Ancient Grains

Chickpea chips like RW Garcia Chickpea & Ancient Grains

Remember, it’s still about portion size, so aim for 1 ounce (about 15 chips) per serving.

The Cheese

To lighten things up, choose a reduced-fat cheese, or to really get the taste buds flowing, combine a small amount of a flavorful cheese (like sharp cheddar or pepper Jack) with reduced-fat or part-skim cheese (like part-skim mozzarella). Aim for 1/4 cup of cheese per serving, which averages around 115 calories.

The Chili

If you’re drowning your nachos with meat, your best bet is to make your own lighter chili and add about 1/4 cup per serving or serve it on the side. A few lighter chili recipes to try include:

Quick and Healthy Turkey Chili

Three-Bean and Beef Chili

Game-Time Chili

484562331

484562331

Photo by: bhofack2 ©bhofack2

bhofack2, bhofack2

Additional Toppings

Other high-calorie toppings to be wary about include guacamole and sour cream. Some ways to lighten them up include:

Using a reduced-fat sour cream

Combining reduced-fat sour cream with nonfat plain Greek yogurt in a 50:50 ratio.

Opting for salsa over guac, if possible. Salsa contains 25 calories per cup, which is much fewer than any guac. If you do choose guac, serve it on the side and aim for 1 to 2 tablespoons per serving.

Serving the higher-calorie ingredients on the side

Other toppings that are much lower in calories and can be added in larger portions include jalapenos, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, sliced olives and corn kernels.

This lighter Spicy Nachos with Fresh Pico de Gallo is the perfect recipe to try.

Related Links:

Baked Vegetable Fries with BBQ Chili, No Drive-Thru Necessary

5 Casseroles with a Healthy Side

Superfood Breakfasts to Start the Day Right

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Build a Better Pot Roast

Three ounces of chuck roast (the cut that makes the best pot roast) boasts 22 grams of protein and almost half of the recommended daily intake for iron.

Build A Better Frozen Yogurt Sundae

Is a loaded frozen yogurt sundae your idea of a healthy treat? Watch out! Here's what to know before you hit up one of those super-popular frozen yogurt bars.

How to Build a Better Sandwich

Pull out the bready insides of your roll when making a super-stuffed sandwich: There will be more room for the filling, plus it will be easier to eat.

3 Ways to Build a Better Lunchbox — School Days

Get Food Network's top tips for packing your child's school lunchbox, plus Food Network's favorite kid-friendly lunch recipes.

How to Build A Better Winter Salad

There may be a smaller bounty of greens during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean you should forgo a delicious salad. Here’s how you can use seasonal winter goodies to build a healthy salad.

Building Strong Bones

Be sure you're getting enough of these nutrients that help prevent osteoporosis and promote good bone health.

Build a Better Burger at Home and on the Road

Burgers can well be part of a healthy diet; use these tips to build a better burger at home or at a restaurant.

On TV

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.