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Extreme Vegan Makeover: Baked Nachos with Picadillo Edition

Maybe it’s the holidays. Maybe it’s the weather – there is over 2 feet of snow outside. Maybe it’s all the diet commercials on TV (I can be oppositional that way). I don’t know what it is but lately, I’ve been HUNGRY and craving foods that are definitely NOT diet-friendly. Now that doesn’t mean I’ve been indulging in them; in fact, I probably burned calories from all the fantasizing and salivating 🙂

But I’ve been watching a lot of TV food shows and I’ve really been craving the kinds of comfort foods I used to love back in the P.V. (pre-Vegan) days. For me, that means savory, fried, and greasy appetizers. For me, that also meant wearing size 24 pants.

Me in size 24 pants

So I have 2 very important reasons why I WILL NOT eat those foods: (1) I am NOT giving up being a size 8 for anything but a size 6…I hope… and (2) I am NOT EVER going to knowingly eat anything that involved pain, suffering, exploitation or murder of a living being.

Me at size 8 pants

I do want to create Vegan versions of all my favorite appetizers – that’s the easy part. For me, the hard part is still portion control. Even though Vegan food is healthier and has less calories per serving (usually) and even though it only takes half a serving of Vegan food to make me feel as full as non-Vegan food (Vegan food is just more filling whether it be soy, legumes, fiber, greens, etc.), I still have to be careful about how much I eat. I still have to be aware of when I feel satisfied and stop before I feel full (or too full), no matter how good the food is and how much is left on my plate. I have gotten better at that and so I can indulge in some of my favorite non-diet friendly foods sometimes without ruining my progress.

For the past few days, I had been craving nachos. A big plate of tortilla chips with ground “beef,” olives and ooey-gooey cheeze with salsa and sour cream on the side. Luckily, I had everything I needed to make it in the house. Well, almost everything…I would have loved some guacamole. Maybe next time.

First I made my own Vegan version of picadillo using Gimme Lean “Beef,” onions, garlic, bell peppers, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, corn and spices. Then I layered the chips, picadillo, black olives and Daiya cheese – both mozzarella and cheddar – into a casserole dish and baked it. Vegan sour cream and salsa on the side and we were in nacho heaven.


For the picadillo:
Cooking spray
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper, chopped (canned with adobo sauce)
1 tube Gimme Lean, “beef” flavored
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn
1-8oz. can tomato sauce
1-2 Tbs. adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)

For the nachos:
Blue corn tortilla chips
1 cup Daiya cheese, either flavor (I used a combo of mozzarella and cheddar)
8 oz. pitted black olives, sliced
Salsa, Vegan sour cream, guacamole (optional)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. First, prepare the picadillo. In a skillet, add some cooking spray and saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper and chipotle pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the skillet, move the veggies to a bowl and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, add the Gimme Lean (it’s easiest to handle if your hands are wet) and break it up a bit. Add the cooled onion, garlic, bell pepper and chipotle pepper to the bowl. Add the spices (no salt is necessary because there is salt in the chips, the cheese and the olives) and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Uncooked Gimme Lean with sauteed veggies

Return the skillet to medium heat. Add 1 Tbs. of olive oil. Add the Gimme Lean mixture to the skillet and break it up with a wooden spoon. Add the tomato sauce, 1-2 Tbs. of adobo sauce (depending how spicy you like it) and the frozen corn. Mix well and let cook until the picadillo is browned, about 10 minutes.

Cooked Gimme Lean Picadillo

When the picadillo is ready, spray a casserole dish lightly with cooking spray. Layer the dish with tortilla chips. Then spoon half the picadillo onto the chips. On top of the picadillo, add half the Daiya and then half the black olives.

Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients to create a second layer.

Bake for about 20 minutes until the Daiya is melted and gooey.

Serve while hot with salsa, Vegan sour cream, guacamole or whatever you like.

This makes a delicious appetizer if you have company or it can be a meal by itself.

Eat it before you make that New Year’s resolution to lose weight 🙂


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7 Responses to Extreme Vegan Makeover: Baked Nachos with Picadillo Edition

  1. Molly December 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Wow, you’re already doing so much better than I am! Haha… way to go! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Rhea Parsons December 29, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    The new edition comes out Jan. 5th in paperback so I might get it. As it stands, I already avoid refined products – no white rice, flour or sugar. I never add sugar or any sweeteners to anything because I hate sweet things. I avoid almost all processed foods except for the occasional Gimme Lean, Boca burger or Tofurkey sausages, etc.

    I don’t buy anything that has artifical colors or flavors, MSG, HFCS, etc. I never buy bottled dressing because I would rather make my own. So that’s not too much of an issue with me.

    I did see that he wants you to avoid wheat which is a great idea but tough. I have been switching out my whole wheat pastry flour for chickpea flour, we’ve been buying spelt buns, etc. but wheat is in everything! But so many people say they feel better without wheat, that I am seriously considering lowering my intake of it and other gluten foods.

  3. Molly December 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    “Eat to Live” is what introduced me to the volumetrics concept. It’s a great book, with a couple of caveats. I really like *most* of Dr. Fuhrman’s teachings, except that he can get really overzealous sometimes about not eating grains/starches, avoiding processed foods, and not using any sweeteners. I think that, assuming you don’t have any food addiction issues, these items can be used within reason, as part of a balanced overall plan.

    Other things I learned were about leaving out the oil in recipes… sautéeing in water or vegetable broth instead, using different salad dressings that don’t contain oil. That saved me lots of calories, and especially was valuable for me because oil doesn’t contain any nutrients. I’d rather eat something that has vitamins/minerals with those calories instead. 🙂

    “Eat to Live” and “Eat for Heatlh” are both great books, if you can get past Dr. Fuhrman’s super-cheesy “Nutritarian” slogan. He’s pretty egotistical, but his science is solid, and he’s a great doctor. (Maybe that’s why he’s so egotistical! Haha 🙂 )

  4. Rhea Parsons December 28, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    Barbie – thank you so much. I’m going to get that book. I’m at the point where I need to lose that last 25 lbs. and I’m kind of stuck. Part of it has been my being sick but a large part of it has been lack of motivation. Maybe a new book will relight the fire in me. Thanks 🙂

  5. Barbie December 28, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    Have you read the book “Eat to Live”? I think you’d like it, and I also think it would help you continue on your weight loss. I lost a couple lbs after going vegan, but after reading this book I started losing a lot faster. He recommends a vegan diet (although he calls it vegetarian), with lots of salads and raw veggies. The raw veggies have the added benefit of wonderful energy, I’ve found.

    Anyway, what you were saying about being able to eat larger quantities of veggies (as opposed to bread, meat, etc) made me think of the book.

  6. Rhea Parsons December 28, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    Molly – thank you so much for the sweet words 🙂

    I have not done any research in Volumetrics. It’s just knowing that a pound of lettuce vs. a pound of bread has an enormous caloric difference and so you can eat more veggies for the same calories (or points in Weight Watchers although now they have changed their plan so that most fruits and veggies are free).

    Whenever I make any recipe, I automatically double the veggies. I find that most recipes add veggies like a garnish and I make it the main event.

    Plus, eating whole grains and avoiding refined foods makes you fuller.

    I eat lots of salad almost everyday too 🙂 I grew up always having a salad with dinner so I have always done that. My husband and I share a “family-size” salad no matter what I make. And I still have the old mindset that I must have a vegetable side dish, regardless of the fact that my entree is veggies too. I’m really engrossed by the whole cognitive mindset and how that works.

    I would love any info. Talk to you soon.

  7. Molly December 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    WOW, Rhea – seeing your before-and-after photos is astounding! What an amazing transformation. I already knew that you are pretty, but my goodness… that size-8 photo shows how VERY pretty you are! 🙂 Congratulations on your incredible weight loss.

    In your journey along the way, have you done any research into Volumetrics? That’s the whole notion of why some foods make us feel full longer than others. Sounds like you’re already using it, whether you know it or not. It’s one reason why I like to eat huge salads every day (and cause I love salad 😉 ), and it’s usually a way to get in extra nutrition. Big salads and soups full of vegetables = lots of vitamins and keeps you full longer, plus it’s low-calorie. You may already be well-versed in this and I’m preaching to the choir. 🙂 But if not, email me! I can send you some good info.

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