The Super Bowl is notorious for football, commercials, drinks and most importantly, the food. Is it possible to enjoy the Super Bowl without adding to your waistline? Absolutely! You can enjoy delicious and healthy choices even while sticking to your health goals. Does this mean you cannot enjoy a single indulgent food just because you like it? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that you can cut the calories while still enjoying and sharing delicious food with your comrades. We remember when food is delicious, not because it was high in calories. Therefore, let's make some delicious appetizers that can keep us feeling full, give us lasting energy and provide a balanced plate.
1) Choose your dips wisely. Who doesn't like guacamole? What about guacamole, salsa, hummus, homemade ranch dip, Tzatziki sauce, or white bean dip instead of cheese dip? You can often find these dips at your local grocery store, just be sure to check that they are made with healthy ingredients and as fresh as possible (preferably no preservatives).
2) Homemade Baked Corn Chips instead of the bagged versions. Why? You get the crunchy chip texture without the added unhealthy fat. Don't get me wrong, we need fat in our diet, but we often get too much and not the right kind.
How do you make them? Heat your oven to 350 F. Cut 6 inch corn tortillas in half and then each half in half again. Line in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and bake 10-15 minutes (time varies by oven) until crunchy. Serve immediately or these can be made the day ahead and stored in an air-tight container. Bonus: Because you have to make these, you won't have nearly as much available as you would just buying bags of chips.
I also like Siete Chips: they are tasty and have simple ingredients and are made with a healthy anti-inflammatory fat: avocado oil instead of canola, soybean or peanut oil. You can find these at your local grocery store (HEB, Whole Foods) or online (Thrive Market).
3) Upgrade Your Veggie Tray. I get it, not everyone likes raw veggies. That's why I mix it up with a combo of raw and roasted veggies for my guests. Some of my favs as raw: jicama, carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, zucchini. Some of my favs roasted: broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini wedges, sweet potato fries.
4) Don't forget the fruit tray. Most of us likes sweets, so why satisfy your taste buds with sweet fruit instead of high calorie desserts? Some of my favs: apple slices, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, watermelon, oranges, grapes, raisins.
5) Firing up the grill? How about delicious lean chicken, beef or shrimp kebabs layered with sliced onions, bell pepper and pineapple? Season with salt, black pepper and a little paprika, skewer and place on the grill. It's sure to be a crowd-pleaser because it combines savory and sweet. Have you ever had grilled pineapple? It transforms in taste and is a perfect amount of sweetness that can replace the sugar-ladden barbecue sauce we normally use.
6) What about Chicken Avocado Salad on lettuce wraps or whole wheat crackers? It's a perfect finger food that will disappear quickly!
7) What's to drink? How about replacing soda with sparkling water and a splash of juice? The only thing you will miss are the calories. My favs: Waterloo Black Cherry, La Croix Lime or Coconut, Spindrift Raspberry Lime. I found these at my local grocery store (HEB, Whole Foods, Kroger). And no, I do not have any affiliations with these name brands.
8) Instead of the processed cheese dip, have a small tray of cubed cheese for your guests to enjoy. Natural cheese (not the kind that sits on the shelf like Velveta) can be a part of a balanced plate. However, we must recognize that it is a high-fat protein and treat it accordingly by having it in moderation. One ounce is about 80-100 calories, which equals a slice of cheese or 4 dice-sized cubes.
Bonus: Tips for Sticking to Your Health Goals:
1) Bring a side/snack that you will enjoy eating and is healthy. This way, if there are no other healthy foods, you can fill up mostly on your healthy option while sampling a little of the calorie dense, nutrient poor foods.
2) Don't graze. Instead, pick a small plate, make it a balanced plate of veggies, fruit, starchy vegetables/whole grains and protein.
3) Listen to your body. When you start to feel satisfied, decide to stop eating instead of when you feel overly full. Know that your next meal will be in a couple of hours so there is no reason for you to overeat. Instead, focus on connecting with others around you.
4) Challenge yourself to make a healthy plate no matter how you feel at the time. Come up with a game plan, decide and stick to it. You may not feel like sticking to it when the time comes, but you can rely on your plan instead of your feelings.
5) Resist saying, "I can't eat that," or "I'm on a diet." This will only make you feel deprived and will only last as long as your willpower; which, typically isn't very long. Instead, tell yourself that you choose to not eat it right now, that you can have it tomorrow or the next time if you'd like. This may seem silly or similar, but your brain perceives it completely different. You are choosing to decide not to have it instead of depriving yourself from it. When we restrict foods, our brains tend to focus more on those foods, so we eventually end up eating them in much larger quantities to make up for that feeling of depravity.
What healthy dishes are you planning to make for the Super Bowl or your next special occasion? Do you have recipes to share with us?