Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Family Dinner- Healthy Nachos!

When one puts the words 'healthy' and 'family dinner' together, they usually wouldn't associate 'nachos' with that.  But, it's going to be Friday night, and what could be better in this freezing weather than a pile of nachos, straight from the oven, for everybody to share?  Here, in America, we've all but abandoned the family dinner table and I'd like to see that change.

There are lots of important things about sitting down as a family nightly, to share a meal.  If we can't manage nightly, then let's try for as many nights as we can. Sitting down to eat with your family is so important.  It's a time for tensions to be put aside, the week's stress to melt away, and most importantly- reconnect with your spouse and kids.  Some of my best memories as a kid were of us eating dinner together.  It didn't matter how fancy the meal was.  What mattered is that my parents and I were together, talking to each other candidly, laughing, and sharing.

Healthy nachos don't have to be incredibly difficult, in fact if you've got some veggies, meat, cheese, chips, and salsa hanging out in your house, then you are set to go.  Your kids can help out with things like setting the table, arranging the toppings, and if they are older- shredding cheese or carefully chopping things.  The only other things you need are you oven, a cookie sheet, and a pan to brown your meat and beans.  So, let's get cooking!

You need:

-1 can of pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 lb of hamburger or chicken (if you use chicken, you can chop it into small cubes before cooking, also remember that meat is entirely optional)
-1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, and a small onion diced
-Your favorite taco seasoning (prepackaged or if you use your own seasonings, that's fine too!)
-1 cup of shredded Monterrey jack or cheddar cheese, or a combo of both
-Toppings like cubed avocado, tomatoes, olives, jalapenos, salsa, or sour cream (tailor your toppings to your family's preferences)

Let's get started!

-Start your oven warming at 250 degrees.  Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in your pan to fry up stuff in.
-When your oil is hot (not smoking, set this pan over medium heat), toss in your garlic and onions to saute.  Saute them for three to 5 minutes, or until they are tender and fairly translucent, then add in your meat to brown.  You can drain of any grease and oil before the next step, if you prefer.
-When your meat is browned, add your seasonings (According to their directions, or your preferences), and your beans.  Let simmer together for about 5 minutes or until any liquid is reduced.
-I like to line my cookie sheet with waxed paper before putting the nachos together to bake.  If you don't have waxed paper on hand, a light coat of non-stick cooking spray will do the trick.  It helps clean up be so much easier!
-Spread out tortilla chips (we LOVE a mixture of whole grain chips and blue corn tortilla chips) on the cookie sheet.  Top with the bean and meat mixture, then sprinkle your cheese evenly over it.
-Bake the nachos in the oven until cheese is melted and slightly bubbly.  Usually this doesn't take longer than 5-10 minutes.
-Bring over to the table and let everybody take their serving and garnish with the toppings they like.
-Enjoy your Friday night!

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