Recently, a friend of mine has been taking steps to improve her overall health. In doing so, she had some food sensitivity testing done and when the results were in, she was encouraged to make some pretty tough changes to her diet.
The foods she needed to eliminate were some of her favorites. Of course! Isn't that how it goes in life. Some of the foods on her "items to avoid" list included:
and the list goes on...
She was feeling overwhelmed by the news and didn't know how to begin. So after talking with her and finding out what some of her favorite foods were, I told her I would work on some replacement ideas. I feel like that is really important when making huge dietary changes. If you can find things that satisfy your biggest cravings, you will be more likely to stick to your goals. If you feel like you are depriving yourself, it will be harder to get over the cravings and the temptation to go back to the things you miss will be much greater.
One of her favorite meals is nachos. Who doesn't love a good plate of nachos, right? So our first challenge would obviously be the cheese. One would think that was an easy fix with some cashew based cream sauce, and adding in some nutritional yeast for a cheesy taste. But given that she needs to avoid nuts, that was not an option.
I did some research and found this nacho cheese recipe that looked promising. I knew I would need to alter it a little due to the garbanzo bean flour. No legumes for her either. She also likes things on the spicy side. If you fall into that category, you can easily add more bite to this sauce by adding in some jalapeno pepper seeds. It will be super hot though, just to warn you.
After testing out the cheese and making a couple of changes, we had a winner. Now to work on the other part of the nachos. My friend had mentioned that she was a pepper lover and when she tries to limit her carbs, she would opt for bell peppers instead of tortilla chips. I though that was a fabulous idea! And that is how this bell pepper nacho recipe was born.
I sliced the top and bottom portion of the bell peppers off and then cut vertically into 1 inch sized strips and there we have our nacho chips! I found that blanching them for 2 minutes was enough to cook them briefly, but leave them with a nice crisp. To blanch them, you will just put the bell peppers nacho chips into boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain them and they will be the base of your nachos.
We opted to use grass-fed ground beef but ground chicken or subbing the meat for beans works too. Adding some seasonings, diced zucchini, and diced jalapeno jazzed up the meat. Next, adding some fresh tomatoes and avocado made great additions. Then of course, drizzling the nachos with our nacho cheese is the highlight!
We knocked it out of the park with this nacho recipe! You will be amazed at how incredibly satisfying this healthy meal is. The recipe is totally adaptable to whatever your dietary needs are. I'm happy to report that my friend is doing fabulous with her food choices and is loving the changes. She never thought it would be possible to enjoy nachos without cheese.
For the bell pepper base:
1 tsp coconut oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 1/4 pounds grass-fed ground beef
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
6 bell peppers, ends removed, sliced horizontally 1 inch strips (colors of your choice)
1/2 cup zucchini, seeds removed (less mushy) and diced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
1 avocado, diced
1 Roma tomatoes, diced
fresh chives, minced
For the nacho cheese:
1 can light coconut milk
2 to 3 Tbs arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder (increase for more spice)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric (up to 1 tsp for more color)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbs fresh jalapeno, seeds removed, minced (leave a couple seeds for extra spicy)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1. For the bell pepper base, start by melting the coconut oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic and red onion for about 5 minutes. Then add the ground beef. As the ground beef is browning, add all of the spices and cook thoroughly. Drain the fat.
2. Then add the diced zucchini and jalapeno to the meat mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes.
3. While you are finishing up the meat mixture, boil water in a medium pot and add the bell pepper strips. Blanch for 2 minutes, drain, and arrange the bell peppers on a platter.
4. You can either make the nacho cheese beforehand or while you are cooking everything else. So for the cheese, you will add all of your ingredients into you high speed blender (start with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot in your blender and reserve the remaining one if needed while cooking on the stove top). Blend until everything is well mixed. Taste the sauce to see if any additional spices are needed. Then transfer the cheese sauce to a small saucepan.
5. Over medium heat, cook the cheese sauce for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. You will notice the cheese sauce will start to thicken. If you want an even thicker cheese, add the remaining tablespoon of arrowroot, but only small amounts at a time. Whisk well so there are no lumps. Give it a minute or so before adding more. Once your desired thickness has been reached, remove from heat. Either serve right away or you can make this in advance. Store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator. Then warm it up over the stove when ready to serve.
6. So now we are ready to build our nachos! The blanched bell peppers will be the first layer. Then add the meat mixture. Add the avocado, tomatoes, and shredded lettuce. Top it off with nacho cheese and fresh chives. Get ready to enjoy some seriously delicious and healthy nachos!!!