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5 Classic Super Bowl Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy

by | Jan 28, 2013

Photo by Надя Антонова / Nadja Antonova

Healthy eating is important, but sometimes on special occasions you just don’t want to compromise. Luckily, sometimes you don’t have to.

Some of the most classic Super Bowl foods actually aren’t as bad for you as most people think. Just make sure that real, good-quality ingredients are used in all your recipes and enjoy.

5 Classic Super Bowl Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy

1. Chili

Beans, tomatoes, onions, spices and grass-fed beef are the things healthy meals are made of—just don’t forget to eat some leafy greens at some point during the day.

Really good chili doesn’t require cheese, but if you can’t live without it just make sure you get real cheddar and not the processed fake stuff. Check the ingredients.

2. Chicken wings

Chicken wings are tasty, and depending on what you put on them they can be healthy as well. What’s important is that you avoid breading and sweet sauces. Traditional Buffalo wings are probably not the best option (they’re breaded and fried), but Chef John’s famous Super Bowl pastrami wings would be perfect.

3. Guacamole

I’d be lying if I said you didn’t have to watch your portions with guacamole—it’s easy to eat a lot and it is very high in calories. But fortunately it is very filling and all the calories are of the healthy variety. The monounsaturated fats in avocados are very effective at raising healthy HDL cholesterol, without negatively impacting other blood measures.

4. Salsa

Of course there can be no talking about Guacamole without mentioning his fiery little sister Salsa. On the health front, you can’t beat the combo of tomatoes, onions, chili, cilantro and lime, and it tastes good on pretty much anything. So go nuts, you can enjoy this one guilt free.

5. Bean dip

Black bean dip is a classic at Super Bowl parties. If you start with dried beans and soak them overnight before cooking and pureeing them for the dip, you can even avoid the digestive issues most people associate with legume consumption. If you’re tired of Mexican flavors (the ingredients are similar to those in salsa and guacamole) try using chickpeas in a Mediterranean-style hummus instead.

What are your favorite Super Bowl recipes?

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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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