‘Epic Nachos’ do the trick when there’s a full house for dinner

If nachos can get me in shape, I’m in! I’ll be ready for the local body building championship — whenever that happens given all the COVID-19 shutdowns. As an aside, if I could just learn how to flex fat I could be Mr. Olympia, but this has proven harder than I thought (and by ‘this’ I mean ‘I,’ and by “harder” I mean “fatter”). Good thing I have the next few weeks to work on it at home!

I made this “Epic Nachos” recipe for the family and it was a hit. The yogurt offers the same tang as sour cream without the fat, and chicken was such a great alternative to ground beef. Yes, there was a little whining from the kids about the jalapeño peppers — “My mouth is burning!” “Why would you do this to us?” “You’re not our real father!” — and then my wife chimes in with “I want a divorce!” but ya know they gotta learn the difference between olives and jalapeños. Spice is a teacher. The Epic Nachos are also a teacher: You don’t have to give up the foods you love to eat healthy, just add more healthy ingredients to them.

Pro tip: Make your nachos with ground chicken for the same texture as beef with less fat. You don’t have to give up the foods you love – just add more healthy ingredients to it.

Food. I like it!

Like, I reeeeeeeeeeealllllly like good food. (Pretty sure my editor is freaking out over those last 10 words.)

I love good food so much that if we were in Grade 2 you might suggest that I marry it. Notice, though, that I’m saying good food and not bad food or junk food. Chowing down on chips and sausage-filled breakfast sandwiches is like hooking up with an ex. It seems like a good idea at the time, but afterwards you feel tired, gross and guilty.

I do 95 percent of the cooking at home. I’m lucky to have a career that keeps me around the house a lot. My wife is a nurse, or as I calI her, “Sugar Momma.” I do travel quite a bit and I really have no idea what they do for food while I’m gone. I just assume nobody in the family gets hungry or eats while I am off chasing a dream so really it’s a non-issue. But when I am at home dinners are the big meal. Ya, I get the kids breakfast and pack a lunch for those that need it — or at least used to need it — but dinner is where I get to shine. So I’ll be shining A LOT over the next few weeks.

Goodbye phones, hello quality time

Tasty family dinners are such an important part of our day that we’ve structured our lives and employment around making them happen. Yes, life with two kids can be a real shit show at times, but having a chance to sit down together, share in some good food and talk is a huge part of our mental health and is helping the kids develop healthy relationships with food. Not to mention getting through this COVID-19 shit storm! We leave our phones in the kitchen and have a good homemade meal together. I understand how truly lucky we are to be able to do that.

Tips for bringing good food, friends and family together around a table

  1. Start simple and easy. I sometimes worry less about nutrition and more about starting from whole foods. In a perfect world whole foods are pure pieces of nutrition. Potatoes, carrots, chicken breast, salmon fillets etc. That habit of cooking at home will save you money and calories over eating out or ordering in every time. Start with building a habit.
  2. The only canned food allowed is tomatoes and beans. (And maybe, when no one else is looking, Spam.) I realize this is a crazy time so use what ya got! Frozen veggies are great quality and always a reasonable bet. Tinned food can be heavily processed but now’s a great time to be creative and use what ya got. Clean out that larder and make room for all the pasta you’ve just bought!
  3. Colours, use lots of colours. Greens are the best (think green means go), and you can eat these all day long as much as ya like. Beyond that, I like to use whatever catches my eye in the produce section. Try something new, ask someone buying that crazy looking vegetable what their plans are for it. You might just make a new friend as well.
  4. Portion control can be surprisingly easy. I’ve never liked the idea of rationing. I always end up feeling like I should have had more. In our house I always pre-cut steak or whatever protein we’re having into smaller pieces and allow folks to serve themselves. You’ll be surprised how much less you end up eating this way. (Pro tip: Let it rest! When grilling a steak or pork chop, don’t touch it for about as long as you cook it.)
  5. Have a Veggie Day! I don’t even really tell the family I’m doing this. Cows are delicious, but maybe give your barnyard friends a day off every week. You’ll be surprised how good a plate full of veg can be.
  6. Let the kids help cook dinner. Get them in there and let them touch and taste things as you go. Pro tip: No raw or uncooked meat around the kiddies. Pro tip 2: Let the kids help clean up too!

Food is much easier to prepare than many guys realize. There are so many great and easy recipes out there that you could make something fun and special every day. Go online and check out Jamie Oliver, Food wishes, Alex, BBQ with Franklin and Gordon Ramsey on Youtube to name a few. You’ll learn new techniques, walk away with new recipes, and maybe even get a little healthier along the way!

What’s for dinner tonight?

In case you missed it, Toby owes us 1,800 jumping jacks. Check out his first post where he reveals a noble plan to make good on his promise.

Stay tuned for Toby’s next post, and if you haven’t signed up to our Weekly Health Tips yet, do it today to follow him on his journey to better health.

About the Author

Toby Hargrave

Toby Hargrave is a B.C.-based film and TV actor, radio personality, and award-winning veteran of North America’s standup circuit. Described as a “happy Hagrid” owing to his resemblance to Harry Potter’s oversized pal, Toby often pokes fun at his “casual” approach to wellness. Behind the scenes, however, he wanted to live healthier, and that’s when his inspiring Don’t Change Much journey began. Visit Toby's Website for more information.

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Steven Kabanuk
April 07, 2020

I laughed my face off reading about the kid's and wife's comments about jalapeño peppers in the nachos. So funny. Can totally relate to a fellow dad.