High calories and fat content is not the biggest problem with traditional corn chips. If you eat them in moderation and live an active life, those factors will be of little to concern for you.
The concern which affects everyone though is cancer risk. That is what the bigger problem may be with this snack.
When you fry carb-rich foods like these, it creates high amounts of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The most prevalent type in grain-based fried foods tends to be acrylamide, which is a Group 2A carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Whether it’s potatoes, wheat, beans, or gluten free grains like corn and buckwheat, all can be a big problem for acrylamide. It’s formed during frying and other methods of cooking which involve concentrated high-heat that’s drying.
To put into perspective how much of these glycotoxins there might be in your plate of yummy nachos, consider this study done by Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in which they measured commonly consumed foods (1). All types of AGEs are potentially bad for your health, so rather than just look at acrylamide, they measured total AGE content using a known marker for them; N epsilon-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML).
Below are a few random foods, along with common components you might use to make nachos.
|Food||Serving Size||AGE Content (kU/serving)|
|Green beans (canned)||100g||18|
|Coffee (prepared, American method)||250mL||4|
|Corn chips (Doritos)||100g||503|
|Corn chips (Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips)||100g||1,270|
The funny thing is that the public and scientific community fret a lot over acrylamide in coffee. That’s why there’s the Prop 65 warning signs at Starbucks locations throughout California. They really should require the same at Chipotle for their chips!
As you see, almost none is in canned corn, but when you fry this starchy vegetable it might be a cancer disaster.
Mind you, those examples of tested tortilla chips come from behemoth global food manufacturers who actually have R&D that strives to reduce acrylamide. Your small scale or mom ‘n pop operation might actually be making chips that have even more than that!
If you need further justification for our raw vegan nachos recipe, just look at how many AGEs there are in 1 ounce (30 grams) of cheddar cheese. Reduced fat mozzarella is around 70% lower, but who wants that in their Mexican meal? Plus, 70% lower is still pretty bad.
Finding healthier alternatives while eating out can be hard, but at home you have control. Learn how to make raw chips. Without a dehydrator? You can also buy them premade!
If you are watching your weight, these are low calorie and low fat.
Easy GF Raw Corn Chips & Tortilla Recipe
The only safe way how to make raw tortillas for crunchy corn chips is to use a dehydrator. Waiting for the moisture in fresh, frozen, or canned corn to evaporate naturally would take too long and bacteria would result. By using a food dehydrator, you can expedite the drying process with warm air at a temperature between 104–118 °F (40–48 °C), which is low enough to preserve raw enzymes and avoid acrylamide formation.
Makes 3 servings. 70 calories and 1.5g of fat per serving.
1 can (15.25 oz) of organic whole kernel corn
1. Drain liquid from can and put remaining solids into blender.
2. Blend until creamy.
3. Using a spatula, spread blended corn onto sheets of parchment paper so it is 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.
4. Place sheets in food dehydrator for 7 hours at 115°F (46°C).
5. Remove sheets and with your hands, break apart the corn tortillas into chip-sized pieces.
6. Return sheets to dehydrator for another 2 to 4 hours, or until dry and crunchy.
7. Enjoy this healthy snack with salsa!
- For a healthy vegan cheese flavor, add 4 tablespoons of Bragg nutritional yeast seasoning per batch. That’s only 80 additional calories, which adds 12 grams or protein and a delicious plant-based nutty cheddar flavor.
- Flax seeds for women, men should use hemp. Why? Because flax is the highest phytoestrogen food, containing 260% more than raw soybeans (2).
- For a spicy taste, kick it up with cayenne pepper.
Admittedly, making them using a homemade recipe can be a hassle. If you don’t have the time or inclination, we highly recommend Brad’s raw chips. While this brand is best known for its addictive kale chips, they also make gluten free tortilla chips. Review yourself for what’s inside them…
Ingredients: corn, flax seeds, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, coconut oil, chickpea flour, chia seed, quinoa, cane sugar, Himalayan salt, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, turmeric, chili powder
All ingredients are organic with the exception of salt (minerals can’t be certified organic).
In addition to corn, Brad’s raw chips are sold in other flavors too like kale, sweet potato, and red bell pepper. Really, any of their flavors can work for your Mexican nachos.
Where to buy Brad’s? Your typical supermarket probably doesn’t carry this brand. Here in Los Angeles, the Whole Food locations have a poor selection of flavors for sale, so we prefer to order on Amazon.
If you want low sodium and flax free, you may have to make them yourself. When doing so, having the right dehydrator can make a big difference!
Years ago we learned that the hard way, with a cheap $35 dehydrator from Target. Even after 36 hours, our oil free raw kale chips were still too moist!
These days, our current favorite is the Magic Mill Pro dehydrator, which is sold in a 6 and 9 tray version. Go with the latter if you can afford it, because for the sake of your time, it makes sense to do bigger batches.
You can also use a dehydrator to make raw vegan tortillas that are gluten free, but the recipe will need to be modified. Uncooked corn works for chips because they’re small, but for a taco shell or burrito wrap, you need something that won’t fall apart when you try to hold it.
The solution is fiber-rich plants.
By adding shredded zucchini, carrots, coconut, and/or apples, you can get the binding power you need to make a raw wrap or taco shells. Of course, this recipe will require extra work for grating those fruits and vegetables.
If you’re willing to do that, use the above recipe for raw tortillas and add these shreds after blending the corn. For everything to stick together, you will need a 50/50 mixture and sometimes, even less corn than that is ideal.
Considering all the leg work, this is why we prefer to buy raw wraps that are ready to eat.
WrawP Foods was one of the first companies to sell them, but now there are several good brands on the market. You can find them made with coconut for the Paleo crowd and vitamin-rich kale, apples, spinach, onions, and GF flour like quinoa. Even seaweed versions are for sale, using organic raw nori wraps.