How to set up a DIY Nacho Bar with healthier toppings!
It’s hard not to love nachos! While the chips are always going to be deep-fried (i.e., NOT real food), there are ways to make the rest of your nachos reasonably healthy!
So, just in time for Cinco de Mayo this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to throw a little DIY Nacho Bar Party to see just how many good-for-you toppings I could come up with—I’d say I was able to think of a few, LOL. Okay, I may have gone a little overboard, but it was fun, and the leftovers were epic. You could easily do an awesome nacho bar with half of what you see here! And don’t forget to print out a free copy of ingredients and instructions at the end of this post.
What to include in your DIY (Healthier) Nacho Bar!
I’d say most of these toppings are optional depending on your preferences and commitment level, except for the chips and cheese of course!
I opted for both regular and blue corn chips.
Either refried (pinto) or black beans would be great. I used this Slow Cooker Refried Bean recipe, but I also have a shortcut one I used on Huevos Rancheros. You could also use the easy black bean recipe from this newer Cuban Bowl post.
So many options…I was honestly having trouble deciding what to do! I used the ground meat + homemade seasoning mix from my first cookbook (we prefer ground pork, but ground beef works as well), but what would be equally great is the Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe.
- Homemade Cheese Sauce
I’m sharing a basic recipe below, but I also have another recipe with more flavoring added in an older post here.
- Sliced Sweet Mini Bell Peppers
I thought these would be a great healthier alternative to the chips—and they were! Also, those who couldn’t eat the chips (as I explain below) piled the peppers high. I added a few of these to my plate to displace some of the chips (i.e., not eat so many).
- Shaved Red Cabbage
You could also offer shaved iceberg lettuce or green cabbage instead.
- Pico de Gallo
I used the recipe from my Fish Taco dinner in my second (blue) Fast & Fabulous cookbook. You could also sub tomato salsa.
- Green (Tomatillo) Salsa
The Trader’s Joe brand is pretty clean, so I usually buy that or make my own using the recipe from the Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas post.
You could also sub sliced avocado here. I used the recipe from the lunch section in my first 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook.
- Pepper/Onion Mix
For this, I simply diced a regular onion and two bell peppers (red and green) and just sauteed them in a little olive oil. You could also add some seasonings if you’d like, such as cumin, oregano, or chili powder.
- Raw Red Onion (diced)
You could sub green onions here.
- Sliced Radishes
- Sour Cream
- Sliced Jalapenos
- Hot Sauce
This is my daughter’s plate (below), and I’d say she did okay with getting plenty of veggies piled on! Some of our little friends (who are boys—but I’m not naming names!) just stuck with meat and cheese only, but what can you do?! They did eat the watermelon that we had on the side. :)
That was honestly one of the great things about setting this up as a buffet though—everyone could pick and choose what they wanted (and I’m not just talking about the boys)! One of our guests, who is eating vegan (plus also avoiding oil), and another guest, who is doing a low-carb diet, could still pile their plates high with plenty of approved options. I put the mini sliced bell peppers out just for them as a chip alternative, and I am glad I did.
Now here’s that recipe for the queso. I’d love to hear how this goes at your house…please share in the comments below!
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Homemade Cheese Sauce for a (Healthier) Nacho Bar
- Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, working vigorously to prevent lumps, until the mixture (which is called a roux) darkens a little but does not burn, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour in the milk and continue whisking to break up any lumps. When the milk thickens to the consistency of thin gravy, 2 to 3 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and salt. Use as is, or add in some extra spices (such as chili powder, cumin, and/or cayenne pepper) to kick it up a notch!