Food & BeverageIndustry Voices

Healthier tuckshop nachos in four steps

Nachos are a popular dish to serve in school tuckshops, canteens and at home. Children love building their own nacho bowl and eating it with their fingers.

With ingredients like corn chips, cheese and sour cream, traditional nachos can be high in energy (kilojoules), saturated fat and salt. By making simple swaps, you can easily put a healthy twist on this Mexican favourite.

Here are four tips:

  1. Start with a healthy base
    Instead of store-bought corn chips, try one of the following ideas:
  • Baked pita crisps: Wholemeal pita pockets, wraps or tortillas. Cut into pieces and grill until crisp.
  • Crispy potato rounds: Thinly sliced potato or kumara rounds or wedges, bake until golden.
  • Whole grains like brown rice or quinoa.

If cooking facilities are not available, compare the ingredient list and nutrition information panel of corn chips. Choose plain corn chips with the least number of ingredients and less saturated fat and sodium (salt).

  1. Give your nacho sauce a nutrition boost.
  • Pack-out your nacho sauce with lots of veggies (like grated carrot, courgette, corn or canned tomatoes).
  • Add legumes (like kidney beans, black beans or chickpeas) to increase fibre content. This is an affordable way to make your sauce go further. 
  • When using meat, choose lean mince or drain the fat when cooking to cut back on saturated fat. 

The beauty of nacho sauce is that it can be made in bulk and used in a number of ways. Try savoury mince on toast or a wholemeal burrito.

  1. Add colour and flavour with healthier toppings.
    Swap standard sour cream and cheese with a selection of healthier toppings like:
  • Chopped capsicum, tomato or homemade tomato salsa.
  • Herbs, lemon/lime wedges.
  • Reduced-fat cheese (e.g. Edam, Noble or reduced fat Tasty).
  • Natural yoghurt, guacamole or reduced-fat sour cream.
  1. Add a side of greens.
    Serve a crisp salad alongside your nachos for even more nutritional goodness.

How can Fuelled4life help?

Fuelled4life is based on the Ministry of Health’s Food and Beverage Classification System (FBCS). It’s a free practical tool which helps schools provide healthier options. It aims to increase access for young people to healthier food and beverages. It inspires food services to provide tasty, nutritious products.

Sign up to Fuelled4life

One-in-three Kiwi kids is overweight or obese but you can help change that.

If you are a teacher, principal, canteen manager, caterer or cook and would like to see your school offering healthier food and beverages, here’s what to do:

  • Sign up to Fuelled4life for many free resources to help you choose healthier options
  • You’ll also get free access to the Fuelled4life website and newsletter with tips, recipes, special deals and information on ways to improve nutrition in your school.


For more information or one-to-one nutrition support, please contact the Fuelled4life team on 09 526 8550, email [email protected] or go to


*Full recipes available at

Sarah White

Sarah White works for the Heart Foundation as the Fuelled4life programme manager. She is a New Zealand registered dietitian and is passionate about food, cooking and enjoys helping others make healthier lifestyle choices.
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