10 Super Bowl Snacks That Aren’t All Bad

by | Jan 21, 2009

As much as I wish it weren’t true I know several people that consider the Super Bowl to be the biggest, most important holiday of the year. For most of us though, the Big Game is just another excuse to party.

The only problem is that at most Super Bowl parties, junk food runs the field.

If you have been following this blog you probably noticed that I am not the biggest fan of diets. But one thing I loathe even more than a regimented diet is diet food.

I mean, low-calorie egg rolls? What’s the point?

So I am not going to tell you to buy baked potato chips, unless of course you actually prefer them to the other kind. I am personally fond of Kettle Chips, but I eat them so rarely that if they are around and I feel like having a few I don’t worry about it. You shouldn’t stress out too much about things you enjoy.

On the other hand, you should clearly avoid putting down several bags of Kettle Chips (or anything else) on Super Bowl Sunday. But there are still a ton of delicious snacks you can enjoy during the game without doing too much damage to your health or physique.

Buy what you like, but try to choose most of your snacks from this healthy list:

  1. Tortilla chips – Despite my previous endorsement of fine potato chips, tortilla chips are probably a better option. They have slightly fewer calories, a little more fiber and, most importantly, have a better fat profile (more polyunsaturated and less saturated fats). These days you don’t have to worry as much about trans fat (hydrogenated oils) as you used to because it has been banned in several states, but it is worth checking the back of the bag to be sure.
  2. Salsa – As far as health goes, salsa is almost a perfect food. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, limes and chilies are all great for you. Salsa is low in calories, has little to no fat or carbs and makes almost everything taste better. One way to improve store bought salsa is to use it as a base and add your own fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro. It really makes a big difference.
  3. Guacamole – Although it is high in calories, this avocado-based dip is filled with monounsaturated fats that are both healthy and filling. Make your own to avoid all the extra weird ingredients added to the store bought kind. Just mash up some avocados, squeeze in some lime and season with sea salt and pepper. My secret is to add half a cup or so of the salsa I made—this is a tastier way to enhance the flavor than those mysterious powder mixes. If you finish making it and it is still bland, add more lime and/or salt. A small minced garlic clove can be a nice addition too.
  4. Cut vegetables – I am grossed out by those slimly little bullet-shaped carrots that come in a bag, but real fresh carrot sticks are fantastic. If you can, get your vegetables from the farmers market the day before. This time of year you can find carrots, celery, bell pepper, radishes and daikon. The flavors of market fresh veggies will astound you and elevate this otherwise boring snack food into something divine. What a difference a real vegetable makes!
  5. Nuts – Nuts are one of the easiest, healthiest snack foods out there. It doesn’t even really matter what kind you get, they all have their own benefits. As usual, I recommend going with premium quality if you are going to serve them solo. I am particularly impressed with the value of nuts from Trader Joe’s. They are about half the price of nuts everywhere else and taste even better.
  6. Tacos – If you are serving a meal to your guests then tacos are a great, healthy option. Grilled meats (or veggies) are pretty harmless in taco-sized quantities. Use the small little corn tortillas (keep them warm and soft by wrapping them in a clean towel and leaving them in a low temperature oven) and serve cut up tomatoes, onions, cilantro (pico di gallo) and hot sauce. Authentic Mexican tacos do not have cheese on them, so just skip it. Your friends will love you I promise.
  7. Fruit – Everyone loves a platter of fresh cut fruit. This time of year we have all kinds of citrus and apples to choose from. Kiwis are in season too if you are looking for something more exotic.
  8. Steamed artichoke – Artichokes are bursting with antioxidants, and serving them whole makes for a beautiful snack that a room full of people can enjoy. Cut off the top third of the leaves, trim the remaining pointy leaves with scissors, remove the stem and steam it upside down in a covered pot. After 20 minutes turn it with tongs so the leaves are pointing up. Drizzle with olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, chopped Italian parsley and sea salt, and steam for another 20 minutes or until the leaves are easy to remove. With this much flavor you don’t even need a dip.
  9. Hummus – This Middle Eastern dip is delicious and much healthier for you than your standard Super Bowl party fare. Serve it next to those cut up vegetables. My recipe is here.
  10. Cucumber water – Even if your guests are spending most of the day by the kegerator, it is in everyone’s best interest to stay hydrated. Slice up some cucumbers and add them to a pitcher of water for a simple and impressive refresher.

What are your favorite healthy Super Bowl snack foods?

UPDATE: This article is also available at Synapse.

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19 Responses to “10 Super Bowl Snacks That Aren’t All Bad”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for mentionening the cucumber water, its my favorite!!! I wonder if there is a difference in the taste of water between using persian cucumbers vs other kinds- I love to munch on the persian cucumbers the best. Great post!

  2. Matt Shook says:

    I’ve found the Super Bowl to be the perfect time to read a good book. ;)Great list of snacks here…I am quite partial to the fresh guacamole, upgraded salsa, veggie tacos…well, heck everything on this list! This may be one party I that I would attend looking forward to the food instead of in spite of it. I don’t believe I can add any snack suggestions to this list…you’ve listed all the good ones.Btw, I tried your cucumber water suggestion a few weeks ago…I had my doubts but was pleasantly surprised with the results.

  3. tbone says:

    What do cucumbers do to the water for us uncultured people?

  4. Darya Pino says:

    @anon1Couldn’t tell ya. I don’t think it matters that much what kind of cucumbers you use.—–@MattYes, maybe it is time to enlighten some of your friends. Glad people are digging the cucumber water!—–@tboneCucumbers make the water taste better and more fun to drink. A lot of people have trouble remembering or enjoying plain water, even though they know they should be drinking it.

  5. Healthyliving says:

    This was an awesome article! I wish I had you around to give me the top-10 food list for all events in my life. For instance, Top 10 desserts, Top 10 snacks, Top 10 lunches on the go, etc. This list a great one in general for parties.My ultimate hated party platter item? cheap sushi from costco- ugh!!!

  6. Travis Saunders, MSc says:

    Thanks for putting up your hummus recipe! My girlfriend and I eat a TON of it (it’s a great late-afternoon snack) and we’ve been looking for a good recipe. I often put a slice or two of lemon in my water, but I’m very curious to see what cucumber water tastes like as well.

  7. Darya Pino says:

    @TravisThanks! And I hope the hummus recipe works out. The real secret is not blending the olive oil. Bitter oil will ruin the whole batch.

  8. Katie says:

    @healthyliving-My most hated party foods…..-veggie trays with ranch in middle-MGD (grow up, please)-this is fun, i’ll let you know when I think of more!

  9. Greg says:

    My favorite super bowl memory is going out to Little Cesars with my college roommates and each getting out own square-shaped pizzas, and hanging out all day in front of the TV- not super productive but it doesn’t get any better!Therefore Pizza is my all time favorite super bowl food!!!!!

  10. Rachel says:

    This is a great list! I’m going to try a few of these during the big game for sure. We’ll have to see how the guys like them. I’ll keep you posted.

  11. Darya Pino says:

    @allParty foods can be really, really bad and you guys nailed a bunch of them (though I may move little Caesar’s out of the good list and into the bad). I think my most hated party food might be any kind of cheese dip. That stuff does not resemble anything I associate with real cheese. EEEwwww.—–@RachelThanks! They are nice because they are so delicious you don’t feel like you are missing out on anything 🙂

  12. Matt Shook says:

    Darya beat me to the punch…the worst party food I’ve encountered…processed vegetables circled around microwaved-hot cheez whiz (still in the original glass jar) Blaaaah…

  13. Anonymous says:

    I never thought that so many people who came here for health knowledge would also actually care about the super bowl. go figure. Anyways, there is a new contender in my book for best Super Bowl food- the Cheese Filled Bacon Blanket!!!

  14. Darya Pino says:

    @anon2Thanks for reminding us of the bacon blanket. That’s a great symbol of what we are fighting against!!

  15. Scott says:

    Cheez-its. Those are my least favorite party food that I think people just put out there without really thinking about it. Those little orange fishies aren’t any better. Ugh.

  16. Doug says:

    My least cherished superbowl memory is from 1998, going to a superbowl party in Walnut Creek at the house of my friend’s girlfriend’s friend’s house where they let a long-haired white cat walk around shedding on everything with complete impunity. Towards the second half I realized that my shortness of breath had more to do with anaphylactic shock than excitement. My friend and I went out to buy sudafed but it didn’t help. I was relieved when the Titan came a yard short of sending the game to OT, because it meant we were allowed to leave. Good times…

  17. Darya Pino says:

    @ScottAgreed! Basically anything “cheese flavored” is my definition of pure evil. Yarg.—–@DougWas that Super Bowl? Indeed, not the greatest of days.

  18. Tamar1973 says:

    I think the Superbowl is one of those few occasions in the entire year when it’s ok not to be uber healthy. As long as you don’t eat until your stomach explodes don’t obsess and have fun.

  19. Darya Pino says:

    @Tamar1973I completely agree with you, and feel that way about all special occasions. I’m one of those people who thinks it is VERY important to eat whatever I want. And I always do.But part of my job is to remind people that some of the foods we think might be bad are actually okay. Or better yet, remind them to make foods they already love but forgot about!

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