You don’t have to be a football fan to love the Super Bowl – the ads, the halftime show, and, of course, the food. Even if your team didn’t make it to the big game, you will more than likely tune in. Last year’s thriller between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks drew more than 114 million viewers.
While researchers have debated the actual numbers, it is possible that some folks are consuming upward of 6,000 calories on Super Bowl Sunday. Even worse, if your team is losing, you might be reaching for the unhealthiest foods available – think fatty, sugary snacks.
This year, instead of Monday-morning-quarterbacking your game day feast, have some healthier options on hand for you and your guests.
Score big with fan favorites
You can enjoy the foods you love – wings, chili, chips and dip – without all the guilt by making simple adjustments.
Healthy chicken wings?
Chicken wings, for example, are traditionally deep fried and served with full-fat blue cheese dressing. Weight Watchers offers a healthier Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip recipe that uses skinless chicken and lightens up the dip with fat-free sour cream. The wings are baked, not fried, which significantly cuts down the grease factor.
Chili: a game-day staple
What’s a Super Bowl party without chili? It’s easy to make a healthier version of this fan favorite with some simple swaps. Use lean ground beef or try extra-lean ground turkey to reduce the fat. Try cutting back on the amount of meat you use and double the amount of vegetables and beans for a hearty chili that is sure to please. You can even skip the meat altogether and try a vegetarian version. Remember to go easy on the toppings – calories from cheese and sour cream can add up fast. If you must have them, try light or fat-free options.
Here are three chili recipes to try, courtesy of the USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Two Bean Chili and Vegetable Chili Boat use low-sodium beans that are packed with fiber. Have It Your Way Chili is a versatile recipe that can be tailored to your taste.
A lighter take on chips and dip
Chips and dip are another party favorite, but if you mindlessly snack from a large bowl, it’s hard to determine how many servings you have eaten. Use a small plate to help gauge your serving sizes. Place platters of cut-up raw veggies, such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, and broccoli, next to the chips so you and your guests have healthier choices within reach.
If you make your own dip, swap out full-fat ingredients for the lighter versions (sour cream, mayo, etc.) or consider using fat-free Greek yogurt instead. You can also serve hummus, which comes in a variety of flavors. Hummus contains heart-healthy fats, but you should check the nutrition facts label for serving size information, including calories and fat. Like everything, moderation is the key.
Even non-spinach lovers like spinach dip. Don’t let the spinach fool you, though: Some of these dips are fat and calorie bombs that are made with mayo and an over-abundance of cheese. The American Heart Association offers this heart-friendly Creamy Spinach Feta Dip recipe made with fat-free yogurt and fat-free sour cream. Serve it with homemade toasted pita chips – cut whole-wheat pitas into wedges, spritz with cooking spray, sprinkle a bit of salt, and bake in a 400 degree oven for eight minutes.
Don’t commit a personal foul when it comes to food safety. Keep your hot foods hot and your cold foods cold. Don’t leave food sitting out for more than two hours. When preparing foods, wash your hands with hot, soapy water; keep raw meats separate; and make sure your food is cooked to the appropriate temperature. And, remember, NO double-dipping! The USDA has more food safety tips.
If you want more information on living a healthy lifestyle, including changing your eating habits and learning how to make those changes stick, visit the Healthy Eating section on our website. CDPHP® members can find more support through the weight management program.