Nachos can be nutritious and healthy

051316-28Defense Commissary Agency

Because the average plate of restaurant nachos can contain anywhere between 1,500-2,000 calories and is usually loaded with fat and sodium, this tasty dish is often times thought of as one to avoid in order to keep health and wellness goals on track. This does not have to be the case.

Believe it or not, a plate of nachos can be nutritious and can actually be a quick go-to, healthy meal that actually meets MyPlate healthy eating habit goals.

The three key habits Americans should practice are filling half their plate with fruits and vegetables, eating foods from all food groups, and paying attention to the proportions of food groups on the plate. Another important habit is to aim to cook more meals at home because the quality of ingredients, portion size, and levels of sodium and fat can be controlled.

This meal includes all food groups, uses whole grain chips and substitutes plain Greek yogurt for sour cream to increase the nutritional value and avoid empty calories. Cumin and fresh cilantro are used for seasoning to help keep the sodium level in check.

Be sure to keep these items on hand so the next time life is too hectic to think about cooking, you can whip up a plate of nachos. Be sure to use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to increase the protein and calcium levels and avoid empty calories.

Directions (serves four):

1. Begin cooking 1 lb. of ground turkey over medium to medium-high heat with 2 tbsp. of water.

2. Add 1-15 oz. (drained and rinsed) can of low sodium beans (kidney, black, pinto, etc.) to the ground turkey. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. of cumin; mix well, cover and turn heat to medium.

3. While the ground turkey and beans are cooking, wash and dice a medium tomato, 1/4 a red onion, 1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro, and chop lettuce to equal about 2 1/2 cups.

4. Place about 2 oz. (18 chips) of whole grain/multi grain tortilla chips on each plate and then sprinkle 1 oz. of shredded cheese on the chips.

5. Add 1/2 the chopped cilantro and a cup of shredded cheese to the turkey and bean mixture; stir and cover for 1 minute or until the cheese is melted.

6. Top each plate of chips with 1/8th of the ground turkey mixture (see the notes on how to use remaining mix) and then top with 1/4th each of the tomato, onion, and finish with the remaining cilantro, 1 tbsp. Greek yogurt and desired amount of salsa.


• Use the remaining turkey/ beans mixture as a filling for wraps (4). These freeze well and can be used for a quick lunch or dinner by reheating in the microwave and then topping with vegetables and salsa.

• This recipe works for any lean meat and is great for using up leftovers of cooked meat. If using leftover cooked meat, warm over medium heat and cut down the cooking time.w

• To add a little something different, add just a touch of cumin to some of your favorite dishes, like chili or potatoes.

Best practice tips:

• Select items with the fewest ingredients. Aim for items to have less than eight ingredients and limit products with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

• Eat a variety of colorful fruits. Aim for products that have no added sugar. Choose fresh and frozen, often.

• Fill most of your plate with vegetables. Season with fresh or dried herbs and/or low sodium sauces.

• Eat low-fat dairy options like low-fat milk, soy milk and yogurt.

• Eat whole grains. Choose whole wheat pastas, breads and brown rice most of the time. Limit products that have “refined” flour in the ingredients.

• Choose mostly protein foods like fish, lean meats or beans.

• Choose heart-healthy oils and fats (olive oil, canola oil).

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Category: News