Nacho your typical nacho: Baked sweet potato chips with gooey vegan cashew cheez

I blame everyone else’s talk of football – I don’t pay attention to the sport nor does anyone in my household, but I can’t help but pay attention to what people are making for game day snacks (they are talking about food, how can I not pay attention?) As a result, I end up with cravings for food like nachos. But I try to avoid corn chips, tortilla or cheese in my diet, which pretty much eliminates the main components of nachos. Anyone who knows me knows that I refuse to be limited. Each limitation is an open door to creating something new – something, as my daughter says is “same same but different.” So I made baked sweet potato chips topped with a vegan gooey cashew based cheez, salsa, guacamole, purple cabbage, purple kale, tomato, avocado, cilantro, jalepeno and scallion.

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This is an easy recipe. And tasty. The hardest part about it is waiting and waiting and waiting for the sweet potatoes to slowly dehydrate into chips in the oven. The key to a good sweet potato chip is a thin slice and a slow low temperature bake. If you rush it, they will be soggy or burn to a crisp in the oven.

To add color and variety to the dish, I used both white and orange sweet potatoes. The white has a more neutral taste while the orange is the classic sweet tasting potato.

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I use a mandolin to slice the potato into thin uniform slices. You can cut them with a knife or run them through the slicing blade of a food processor.

Oil a piece of parchment on a baking tray or a pyrex baking dish and layer the potato slices in a single layer on the oil and brush the top of the slices with oil.

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Simply,  bake for 4 hours at 200 degrees. At 2 hours, flip the potatoes to cook the underside.

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At 4 hours they were cooked and slightly crispy, slightly damp. Check them every so often through the baking as oven times may vary.

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I tossed them with salt and let them rest for 10 minutes or so at room temperature – they crisped up perfectly. If some of them still have soggy centers, they can be returned to the oven for a longer period of time, but be careful to not overcook as they will burn. However, if they will be made into nachos, the additional cook time for the nachos will take care of any soggy centers.

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To make the cheese, you can soak cashew nuts overnight or boil some water and soak them for 20 minutes. I usually soak them overnight, but when soaked nuts are needed, the quick soak is fine. Soaking helps them blend into a smooth paste. Once softened and drained, toss them into the food processor with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, tapioca flour, salt, lemon juice and water and blended until smooth. The mixture needs to reduce and thicken – pour it into a pot and over low to medium heat stir vigorously.

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The mixture will become lumpy and gluey and start to separate within 1-2 min or so – this is fine – keep stirring and don’t let the bottom burn.

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Eventually (about 5 min total) like a roux, it will smooth itself out and voila…creamy oooey gooey dairy-free cheese.

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The rest is easy. Layer the chips on a pan or dish.

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Top with cheese.

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Add veggies and toppings. Personally I like them loaded with fresh veg and having to dig through.

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Bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 min – until warm with crisp chips and melty cheese – serve…

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and eat.

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And eat.

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And eat.

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As has been suggested by those who really are into food presentation, when serving them up for a party, I could make them prettier with each chip perfectly loaded with cheese and just the right amount of veg on a visually appealing platter. I could have done that for a picture, but then again, I have a demanding full time job with travel, a 2 year old, a husband I try to see and the desire to constantly express myself through creations in the kitchen for my personal pleasure…and then blog about the successes at midnight before getting up at 5 am to work out. These pictures are good enough. I hope you understand. This is a hobby, not a profession and only goes to show that anyone can do it. You can do it. Get in the kitchen and make some nachos.

I made a quick simple guac (avocado, garlic, lime, cumin and salt) and salsa (chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, lime, salt, jalepeno). I topped the sweet potato chips with the cheese. I tossed all the veggies I had in the fridge on top – chopped purple cabbage, purple kale, tomatoes, cilantro, jalepeno, avocado and scallion (I did not mind the extra avocado, cilantro, tomato). I finished it off with the guac and salsa and placed it in the oven at 400 degrees for 7-10 min, until warm and served. The chips were crisp and the cheese was gooey. The taste was fresh and satifying.

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Top it with whatever you want – black beans, tomatillo salsa, corn. It’s the best part about nachos – it is a vehicle for any topping you want and such a healthy way to eat a not always so healthy snack food.

Happy eating.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

  • 2 organic sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Rinse and dry the sweet potatoes (peel if desired). Use a mandolin to slice the potato into rounds, otherwise use a sharp knife and cut into uniform thin slices or use a slicing blade on a food processor. Line a baking tray with parchment and oil the parchment. Place the potato slices on the oiled parchment as a single layer with as little overlap as possible. Brush the top of the slices with olive oil. Cook for a 2 hours. Remove the tray from the oven and flip each chip and bake for an additional 2 hours. Check on the chips every so often as cooking times may vary with ovens. Remove from oven once crisp and golden brown. Toss with salt to taste and let sit for 10-15 minutes so they crisp up.

Gooey Cashew Nut Cheez

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked and drained
  • 3 Tbs tapioca flour
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup warm water

Place all items into a food processor or vitamix and mix until thoroughly blended (about 2-5 min). Pour mixture into a saucepan and over low to medium heat, stir vigorously – lumps will form – keep stirring until then eventually smooth, thick and gooey. Remove from heat and serve. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and reheated.

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