Making fully-loaded nachos, sinful and (nutritionally) sensible

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Nachos are great comfort food. Think about it. Along with melted cheese and a bliss-inducing combination of carbs, the fiesta of Tex-Mex flavors and joyful blend of juicy salsa, creamy avocado, and tangy sour cream these Nachos Grandes deliver makes eating even my nutritionally sensible version feel like sinful, joyful indulgence.

What makes these fully loaded super nachos seem sinful, as well, even though they are nutritionally reasonable? Let’s build them together while I share my secrets.

Nacho Stacks-03_small

First, don’t bother looking for baked tortilla chips. Supermarkets and natural foods stores no longer carry them. Instead, I get the generously big chips called “restaurant-style,” selecting the ones made with yellow corn and reduced sodium.

Nacho Grande ingreds
Ingredients for Nacho Grande

Next, I make salsa fresca. This avoids using the refrigerated stuff that is so soupy it drips down your arm. I chop the fresh tomatoes and onions very finely and mix in the amount of heat and salt I like. Feel free to adjust either of these to your own taste, or to skip them entirely.

Then I cook tsmashed Black beanshe refried beans using a minimum of oil, which leaves more room for calories to come from the fat in the cheese, avocado, and sour cream.

The resulting lightly-oiled beans are fluffy and light but they do tend to stick, so scrape the bottom of the pan vigorously, knowing that all the dark bits add to their flavor. You will have beans leftover; they are great added to soup, mixed with cooked rice, or into eggs before you scramble them.


I use full-fat cheese because reduced-fat Jack does not melt nicely.Nacho top view But I do use reduced-fat sour cream, which is fine.

Assembling these Nachos Grandes is like building a triple-decker sandwich. The final secret for making them swoonably good is assembling the first two layers, the ones filled with beans and cheese, and heating them only long enough to melt the cheese.

Then, adding the third tortilla chip on top of these warmed layers and topping it with salsa, sour cream and avocado right before serving creates a contrast of warm and cool that puts these generous nachos over the top.


Author: Dana Jacobi

Dana Jacobi takes a fresh look at deliciously healthy food. Her Something Different recipes are inspired by local produce, the seasons, and bold ethnic flavors. She is the author of fifteen cookbooks, six for Williams-Sonoma. Cooking Light, O:The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times and many other publications have featured her articles. A devoted teacher, her classes feature recipes along with technique, also a frequent subject in her personal blog at, and in her books. She lives in New York City where she shops its many Greenmarkets and loves exploring the city’s varied neighborhoods. She is also an addicted knitter.

One thought on “Making fully-loaded nachos, sinful and (nutritionally) sensible”

  1. If time is tight, you can buy a can of refried black beans. Get the fat-free ones. I then mix in a little oil to make them creamier. And make sure tho check the sodium content : )

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