Today is the Super Bowl. The day I like to call the "all-day, all-out eat-fest”.
And I do mean all day. Starting with pre-game festivities and ending with post-game analyses, a typical Super Bowl party can turn into a seven-hour fiesta. Did you know it's the second-biggest eating day of the year? And we love it, scarfing down 33 million pounds of food in one day.
If you're hosting a party this year, do yourself (and your guests) a favor by thinking outside of the pizza box. You can throw a Super Bowl party that is not only festive, but healthy and tasty, too.
Timing is Everything
Serve main-meal foods first. Having more substantial options available early will keep your guests from constantly snacking throughout the evening. For the second half (and those diehards who stay post-game), offer a variety of light snacks.
Make it a Meal
Try one of these main-meal ideas for a healthier twist on your party:
* Whip up a big pot of chili with homemade cornbread. Use lean ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, or go vegetarian with just beans. Either way, you’ll save 200 calories per serving and get an added bonus of heart-healthy fiber. Serve fresh toppings like low-fat cheese, onions, tomatoes and sliced avocados to amp up the taste.
* Build-your-own subs and hoagies – no fuss, no muss (and kid-friendly, too). Offer various breads, rolls, crackers, gourmet cheeses and meats, plus fancy add-ons like grilled onions, olives and roasted peppers. Ditch the mayo for special mustards and olive oil/vinegar. Don’t want to make all that effort? Order a giant sub from Subway to share.
* The Super Bowl is the biggest pizza day of the year. So if you gotta have your pie, try ordering thin-crust veggie or plain cheese instead of the meat special. You’ll cut calories and fat in half, and get a decent dose of vitamins.
* Chicken wings: the unofficial Super Bowl party food. These babies are small but carry a deep-fried wallop: eat a dozen with bleu cheese and say hello to 1,100 calories and 75 grams of fat. And you aren’t even full yet.
If your party isn’t a party without wings, order just a dozen and limit yourself to three. Better yet, oven-bake your own boneless wings and BBQ sauce (eatingwell.com has a good recipe). With 50% less calories and 95% less fat, feel free to eat more than three and still feel good about yourself.
Tired of greasy potato chips and French onion dip? Easy and nutritious snack alternatives abound:
* Divide air-popped popcorn into several bowls; spray with canola oil then sprinkle with spices for different taste sensations: cayenne (spicy), cinnamon sugar (sweet) Italian (savory), etc.
* Packaged cereal snack mixes are high in sodium, fat and calories. Make your own instead: combine peanuts, Chex cereals, dried fruit and a little olive oil; spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper. Or, simply combine popcorn, raisins, nuts and M&Ms; spray with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and coconut.
* Instead of the same old seven-layer dip, offer different salsas, jarred black bean dips (chipotle is great) and fresh guacamole. For tortilla chips, try Xochitl, a Dallas-based company. Their chips are a tasty, healthy option.
* Boiled (shelled) shrimp with plain cocktail sauce is a super-easy, special snack; plus, it’s full of protein, iron and minerals, to boot.
* Try a “mustard bar” with plain pretzels for dipping; it’s fun, different and tasty. And the varieties of mustards available are endless.
* A Mediterranean platter heaped with olives, pita, hummus and tabouleh is always a hit (and a heart-healthy snack).
* Mix this calcium-rich dip for fresh fruit: combine plain, low-fat yogurt with honey, lime zest and slivered almonds (or try low-fat flavored yogurts, like lemon).
Don’t Forget the Spirits
Beer isn’t the only option for the Super Bowl. If you’re looking for something lighter, try these refreshing options:
* Sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime, or a splash of fruit juice
* Plain water infused with fresh cucumbers, strawberries or cherries
* Brewed ice tea with mint and orange slices; or mix equally with lemonade for an Arnold Palmer
* Homemade wine spritzers (Pinot Grigio mixed with club soda, crushed ice and pomegranate juice is a good one)
* Homemade sangria