Loaded Healthy Nachos

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.

loaded healthy nachosThese 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 or plain greek yogurt.

Recipe by: Andie Mitchell

close up nachos