This amazing post was written by Caitlin Iles, a Holistic Culinary Nutritionist and Yoga teacher who focuses on healing the body through the latest nutrition research and time-tested, evolution-based dietary concepts. She shares recipes and inspiration at www.caitliniles.ca or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
If there’s one thing most people can agree on it’s that nachos are epically delicious. However, once you start transitioning to a more plant-based, whole-foods way of eating you may think that this sweet food of the gods is off limits.
Now, most conventionally prepared nachos fall under the category of “should be rarely eaten” due to their inflammatory and allergenic ingredients, which we’ll get into below.
But luckily for us healthy foodies, there is a new nacho on the block and it’s made with one of the most delicious and versatile foods on the planet: the humble sweet potato. Read on to find out why we want to avoid typical nachos and how to make a delicious and nourishing replacement.
Conventional Corn Chips—Glyphosphate
One of the major offenders on a plate of nachos is the vehicle for all the satisfying toppings, the corn chip. Typically corn chips that you would find at a restaurant or grocery store are going to be made from either GMO corn or its non-organic, pesticide-laden cousin.
Unfortunately a lot of the research on GMOs that demonstrates it potentially harmful effects on the human body is often retracted or not even published to begin with because if it is made public it would spell big trouble for big food.
What we do know is that most GMO food is “Round Up Ready” meaning that it can survive intense amounts of spraying with Monsanto’s Round Up Herbicide whose main ingredient is glyphosphate. This chemical has recently been named a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
When you eat food that has been heavily sprayed then you are in essence eating the toxins that it has been doused with. Regardless of the other potential side-effects of GMOs, we can all agree that eating a probable human carcinogen on a regular basis is not a way to promote lasting health. Luckily you can swap out the corn chips for an organic, heritage brand, such as Que Paso, or make the delicious sweet potato option below!
Conventional Corn Chips—Bt Toxin
Another kind of GMO corn is one that has been designed to create its own internal pesticide using Bt Toxin. This internal pesticide is designed to cause explosion of the stomach for the bugs and pests that ingest it.
Apparently, according to the studies performed by the researchers paid by the company who created this corn, it shouldn’t have the same effect in the human body, so we’re good to go. I prefer not to take part in a massive human trial on the safety of Bt Toxin for human consumption, therefore this is another reason conventional nachos are persona non grata on my plate!
Convention Corn Chips—Allergenic Potential
Unfortunately, even if you do make the switch to organic corn chips, you may still be unable to tolerate them as corn is becoming an increasingly common food allergen in North America. If you are already diagnosed with a gluten allergy or sensitivity you are more likely to react to corn as one of the major proteins within it, zein, contains protein sequences that are similar enough to gluten proteins that it can cause a reaction in the body.
It may also cause an inflammatory response in the lining of the gut, which can lead to gut permeability and all the problems associated with it. For that reason I typically recommend that clients who have issues with gluten eat as little corn as possible.
Conventional Corn Chips—High Glycemic Food
In order to keep your energy levels stable, your inflammatory markers low, and your food cravings at bay you need to make sure you have a stable blood sugar level. Unfortunately, conventional corn chips score a 90/100 on the glycemic index (100 is the GI of pure white sugar), which means they can wreak havoc on your insulin response.
If you have diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammation, Alzheimer’s, or another health condition that is negatively impacted by fluctuating blood sugar and insulin levels then you will want to avoid corn chips as much as possible.
Sweet Potato Health Benefits
Now that you know why you want to swap out your corn chips it’s time to find a replacement. That’s where the sweet potato comes in! These bright orange (or purple or white) tubers are an excellent source of nutrients that can help take your nacho feast from inflammatory to healing in the blink of an eye. The orange variety is an incredibly rich source of beta-carotene, which in addition to being an excellent antioxidant is also a precursor to vitamin A.
This vitamin is crucial for proper immune function, skin integrity, and thyroid health. Purple sweet potatoes are an amazing source of anthocyanins, which gives them their purple pigment and function as potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the body.
These starchy tubers can also help regulate blood sugar, despite the fact that at first glance they may seem off limits to those with poor glucose control.
They are a great source of fibre, containing a whopping 6.6 grams in a medium tuber, and some research shows that they may increase a hormone called adiponectin, which is an important player in insulin metabolism.
In terms of nutrient density sweet potatoes are a great option for your snacking needs. They contain a range of B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and other trace minerals all of which build healthy cells, brains, and bodies!
Sweet potatoes are also perfect for those who have celiac disease, leaky gut, autoimmune conditions, or are just generally have sensitive digestive tracts because they are completely grain free!
Not only will you feel fuller, faster thanks to the nutrient density and fibre content, but you’ll also be nourishing yourself while indulging in a delicious treat. That’s a win-win in my books.
Check out the recipe I’ve created to get inspired to whip up your own loaded nachos! Have a beautiful day friend!
Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos
1 large sweet potato
3 tbsp. arrowroot starch
1-2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
½ cup organic shredded goat cheddar
¼ to ½ cup cooked black or kidney beans
¼ cup tomato, deseeded and diced (more if you like it!)
1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced
2-4 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
6 stalks cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a mandolin thinly slice sweet potatoes into rounds.
Layer in a bowl with arrowroot starch and olive oil then toss until fully coated.
Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and place in oven baking for 10-15 minutes until the edges begin to crisp.
Remove from oven and flip sweet potatoes slices and bake for another 5 minutes until crispy. Depending on your oven and the thickness of the slices you may need to cook a little bit longer. Just make sure you check regularly to prevent burning.
Once crisp remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese, beans, tomato, jalapeno, and green onion. Place back in oven to back until cheese is melty/crispy, about 7 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with avocado and cilantro. You may want to dip in homemade salsa, guacamole, or cashew cream cheese!