Meatless Fridays at

Cheese Nachos don't sound like a low-fat treat do they? The way they serve this dish at most restaurants, it's not low-fat at all. But with the right ingredients at home, this can be a really yummy, filling, and healthy dish. They are a nice treat for a chilly winter Friday evening.

pinto bean nachosThe first step in building your nachos is choosing low-fat chips. My grocer sells some really good ones near the produce section, but you can find them in the organic section, too. Or bake your own -- tortillas cut in quarters and spritzed with oil before they're baked.

The second step is making your own beans -- these are so easy don't even think about buying ready-made. The beans are the bulk of your flavor so you want good ones. And these are really low in fat, so they are better for you.

The other toppings on the nachos are really negotiable: salsa, low fat, or if you're not watching your fat grams carefully, go for a nice full-fat sharp cheddar, or even a Mexican Queso Blanco. The guacamole, you may say, is fattening, but the fat in avocado is good fat -- monounsaturated -- the kind that can actually improve cholesterol levels. It's also high in potassium and folate, which is good for growing babies (in utero), and for lowering cholesterol. Plus, they are a good source of fiber, so go for the guac!

Low-Fat Bean and Cheese Nachos

low-fat corn tortilla chips
1 T. canola oil
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained
low fat cheddar cheese (4 - 6 oz.)
1 cup bottled salsa (or my recipe below)
1 c. guacamole (my version below)
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
juice of half a lime
low-fat or fat-free sour cream

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin, chili powder, and garlic; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add pinto beans, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes. Partially mash bean mixture with a potato masher until slightly thick.

Place a layer of chips on a serving plate. Sprinkle with cheese, heavy or light hand depending on your taste. Heat in the microwave until cheese is melted (or in a 450 degree oven if your plate is oven-safe). Spoon bean mixture evenly over tortilla chips. Top with salsa, sour cream and guacamole, or serve those in bowls on the side. Sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze on the lime juice.



1 can tomatoes and chilies (like Rotel)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 red or sweet yellow onions, cut in a few big chunks
1/2 lime
Cilantro to taste (optional) (I use about 2 T.)

Place garlic and onion in food processor bowl with metal blade. Pulse until onions are in small bits. Drain about half the juice of the tomatoes and place tomatoes and remaining juice in food processor bowl with garlic and onion (the level of heat in salsa depends on how much juice you add -- more juice = more heat). Squeeze 1/2 lime over tomatoes, add cilantro if desired, and then pulse until tomatoes are in small bits -- do not puree. Salt to taste, pulse a few times, then taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.



2 ripe avocados
3 heaping tablespoons salsa
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lime
Cilantro to taste (optional)

Peel ripe avocados and break into chunks, removing pits; place in a medium bowl. Spoon salsa on top, add garlic, toss in cilantro to taste (if desired) and squeeze lime over the top. Mash with a potato masher, or the back of a fork, until guacamole is creamy, but not pureed (there should still be small chunks). Salt and stir, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

You can find all our Meatless Friday featured recipes here.

Recipe and photo copyright 2015 Barbara Stein