Super Bowl Sunday ranks second only to Thanksgiving as our nation’s biggest food fest, posing yet another challenge to our willpower and waistline.
There are plenty of easy ways to lighten up game day favorites without sacrificing flavor or fun. So here’s a rundown of my favorite makeovers and swaps, plus three good-for-you Super Bowl recipes. And while not everything has to be nutritious or low in calories, you may be surprised how appreciative your friends will be to have healthful options available for the big game.
Mix things up by serving sliders instead of full-size burgers. Serve with mini whole-grain sandwich thins and a variety of topping options like guacamole, roasted red pepper relish and caramelized onions. Stick with extra lean ground beef, turkey breast or bison to keep calories and saturated fat in check. And meatless options like Morningstar Farms or Boca Crumbles are good alternatives for vegetarian guests.
Your best bet is to make your own pizza, using whole grain crust rolled out so it’s almost cracker-thin, or try my favorite pre-made crust, Pastorelli’s Whole Wheat Ultra Thin & Crispy Pizza Crust. Top it with pizza sauce or olive oil and garlic. Pile on the veggies (think wilted spinach, roasted tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms), lean proteins like shrimp, chicken breast and Canadian bacon. Instead of mozzarella, a stronger cheese like feta or goat cheese can help you use less without skimping on flavor.
If you’re ordering pizza, the same recommendations apply: Request thin crust for about 40 percent fewer bready carbs, topped with red sauce or olive oil, loads of veggies and lean proteins. Go easy on the cheese.
As long as it’s made with extra lean ground beef (or ground turkey breast, or no meat at all) and beans of choice (e.g. black, white, red), chili is a Super Bowl favorite that’s naturally loaded with fiber and protein. Boost the antioxidant content (and shave off calories) by adding extra vegetables like chopped tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and red, yellow and orange peppers. Lower-sodium chili mixes are available. Or make chili from scratch and you’ll have the option to nix added salt entirely.
When wings are baked instead of fried, they have one-third less saturated fat and calories. Make your own lightened-up blue cheese dipping sauce by mixing two-thirds of a cup of low-fat plain Greek yogurt, two-thirds of a cup of crumbled bleu cheese, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and one-quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper for a delicious dipping sauce that has half the calories.
Chips and crackers
Most chips are simply fried white starch, and most crackers are nothing more than baked white starch. And while chips and crackers can be the least of our nutritional concerns when it comes to your Super Bowl fare, every little bit helps. So, for chips I recommend Beanitos black bean chips (my favorite is the Chipotle flavor). A 140-calorie serving has five grams of fiber and four grams of protein, plus the antioxidant benefit of black beans.
And for crackers, Triscuits and Triscuit Thin Crisps (any flavor) are always a solid option, one of the few ‘regular’ crackers that’s truly 100 percent whole-grain with little or no added sugar. And for gluten-free fans, Mary’s Gone Crackers and Van’s Crackers are two of the few brands of gluten-free crackers that are centered on real, whole grains and seeds like quinoa, flax seeds and brown rice, instead of potato starch and corn starch.
Make your favorite dips with plain low-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and mayonnaise. Reduce animal-based saturated fats (and calories) by using two-percent cheese instead of the full-fat version (but not fat-free) and just half the amount of butter called for. Instead of condensed cream-based soups, switch to lighter versions like Campbell’s Healthy Request condensed cream soups to shave off calories, saturated fat and sodium.
It’s pretty straightforward: There’s no good option when it comes to frozen daiquiris, which have upwards of 1,000 calories for a ‘small’ 20-ounce cup. As for hard liquor (vodka, bourbon, gin, rum, etc.), they’re all pretty similar with about 100 calories per 80-proof jigger. Mixers like fruit juices and soft drinks can add hundreds of sugary calories. So your better bet is to stick with low- or no-sugar mixers like water or sparkling water, plus just a splash of juice or, even better, real, fresh fruit (think muddled berries or pear puree).
A six-ounce glass of wine (red or white) has about 150 calories, a 12-ounce beer has 125 to 150 calories, and most light beers have about 95 to 105 calories. And in terms of carbs and calories, Mich Ultra really isn’t much different from most other light beers (just great marketing). The only beers that are really much lower in calories and carbs are Beck’s Premiere Light, Miller64 (both 64 calories) and Bud Select 55, with 55 calories and 1.9 grams of carbohydrates.
Fan-friendly Super Bowl recipes
These tasty little treats are small in size but big on flavor. This recipe is from Matthew Kadey, “Muffin Tin Mania”.
Two Cheese Smokey Chicken Cups
1 cup shredded or finely diced cooked chicken
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chili in abodo sauce
24 wonton wrappers
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon lime zest
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together chicken, green onion, tomato, red bell pepper, apple cider vinegar, chipotle chili, and salt and pepper to taste. With a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of wonton wrappers with oil.
Press each into the wells of 24 mini muffin cups, making sure the bottoms lie as flat as possible. Place a small amount of mozzarella cheese in each cup. Top with chicken mixture and then cheddar cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, or until wonton wrappers are golden and crisp.
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest. Serve alongside chicken cups.
Makes 24 servings
Per serving: 70 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 95 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 1 gram sugar, 4 grams sugar.
Stephanie Myers makes these for parties. They are always a hit:
Sesame Chicken Wings
4 or 5 packs chicken drumettes
1 cup whole wheat cracker meal or Panko
1/2 stick melted butter
1 cup sesame seeds
4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a convection oven if you own one. Line a couple of baking pans with parchment paper.
Mix dry ingredients together. Put chicken in a very large bowl. Pour butter over chicken so that all pieces are moistened. Pour dry ingredients over chicken and mix with your hands so all pieces are coated.
Place chicken on parchment paper lined pans. Pieces should not touch. Bake 45 minutes.
Makes 60 to 80 servings
Per serving: 120 calories, 8 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 60 mg sodium, 1 gram carbohydrate, 0 fiber 0 sugar, 10 grams protein.
This is one of my favorites to serve friends. It’s super-easy and incorporates Louisiana favorites.
Protein-Packed Crawfish Dip
1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails
1/2 cup green onions, minced, sautéed in a small pan with cooking spray
1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme’s No Salt, No Sugar Sweet & Spicy Magic Seasoning Blend
1 cup 2-percent Greek yogurt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
In a large bowl, combine Greek yogurt, Magic Seasoning Blends Sweet & Spicy blend, Parmesan cheese, and lemon zest. Stir well. Add crawfish, green onions, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Chill before serving.
Makes 12 to 14 servings
Per 1/4-cup serving: 70 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 0.8 grams saturated fat, 80 mg sodium, 0.6 grams carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 0 sugar, 7 grams protein.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a sports and lifestyle Dietitian and board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). She manages the nutrition program at Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans, advising clients in weight loss, muscle building, endurance training, eating disorders and general health and wellness.
As a columnist for The Times-Picayune newspaper, Molly covers the latest trends in the nutrition and the fitness industry. She is also the nutrition and fitness expert for New Orleans’ ABC affiliate WGNO with a weekly segment on “Good Morning New Orleans, Get the Skinny with Molly.”
She is regularly featured as a nutritional expert on local and national news stories and has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Vogue, The New York Times, Newsweek, Shape, Health, Fitness, Runner’s World, Wine Enthusiast, Cosmopolitan, WebMD and CNN.com. For more information, please visit http://nola.com
Reprinted with permission from The Times-Picayune newspaper.
The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.