Food & Nutrition

Super Bowl XLIII to XS: Game Day Strategies for Healthy Snacks

 Julie Upton, RD, is ready for a healthy Super Bowl.

 By Julie Upton, RD

Over 100 million Americans will watch Super Bowl 44 on Sunday, February 7, 2010.  As the New Orleans Saints take on the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts, many fans will mindless much through hours and hours of football coverage.  As the number one snack food occasion of any day of the year, the four food groups of the NFL are: 1) chips and dips; 2) wings and blue cheese dressing; 3) pizza; and 4) beer.

Super Bowl parties begin with the pregame and continue to the postgame reports, which can last six or more hours. Some of the game-day foods’ stats are as impressive as the stats of the teams playing for the title.  Here’s what fans will down during game day:

  • One to two days’ worth of calories (1,200 to 4,000 calories)
  • More than 46 million pounds of Hass avocados, enough to cover Tampa stadium’s football field, end zone to end zone, nearly 18-feet deep in avocados
  • $ 240 million worth of soda
  • 30 million pounds of snacks, including 11 million pounds of potato chips, 8 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4 million pounds of pretzels and popcorn each, and 2.5 million pounds of nuts
  • More pizza than any other day of the year

As a football fan who doesn’t have the luxury of enjoying the calories suited for men the size of NFL linemen, here’s what’s on my shopping list and some of my favorite Super Bowl party f recipes.

Julie’s Super Bowl shopping list
Hass avocados
Whole wheat crackers (Wheat Thins Fiber Selects, Dr. Kracker)
Air-popped popcorn
Light beer
Diet sodas
Nonfat plain yogurt
Red bell pepper
Water chestnuts
Frozen whole-wheat pizza dough
Tomato sauce
Goat cheese
Nonfat black bean dip
Frozen corn
Romaine lettuce
Light ranch dressing
Pop Chips or other low-in-saturated-fat potato chips
Baked whole-grain tortilla chips
Whole wheat pitas
Light beer

Skinny Guacamole
To make this fan favorite, combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately. I find that two avocados go a long way if you toss in a tomato (or two or three) and some onion, to add to the texture and volume of the dish. It can serve about 8, as long as you’re ready with something else for them to nibble on once it’s gone!

  • 2 ripe medium Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 (or more) large ripe tomato, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt

Mexican Fiesta Tray

  • 1 container (1 cup) nonfat black bean dip
  • 1 ripe medium Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, mashed with 1 tbsp lime juice and 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 8-oz. carton nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp diced red bell pepper or roasted bell pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh raw or frozen thawed corn kernels
  • 1 small jalapeno chili, diced, optional
  • 1 cup finely shredded Romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup nonfat or reduced-fat ranch dressing
  • 1 16-oz. carton fresh pico de gallo salsa, drained
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained, optional

Spoon bean dip in the center of a serving platter. In a mixing bowl, combine avocado, yogurt, red pepper, corn, and jalapeno. Spoon avocado and yogurt mixture to surround bean dip. Toss shredded lettuce with ranch dressing until lightly coated and surround avocado mixture with lettuce. Spoon pico de gallo salsa around lettuce. Sprinkle entire platter with low-fat shredded cheese and sliced olives, if desired. Serves 14.

Yogurt Spinach Dip

  • 2 10-oz. frozen packages chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1 8-oz. can chopped water chestnuts
  • 3 scallions, very finely chopped
  • 1  cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 4-oz. jar pimento, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Before preparing the dip, be sure to defrost and drain the excess water from two packages of frozen chopped spinach. Combine all of the ingredients, including the drained spinach, in a medium-size bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Perfect Pie
I opt for pizza and make several with frozen whole-wheat crust. Two I like are Greek-Style Pizza and Chicken and Goat Cheese Pizza With Fresh Herbs.

On the sideline

Since beer is the fourth food group of Super Bowl Sunday, there are some super light options available that make it easy for the calorie-conscious to enjoy a few.  There are two national brands, MGD64 and Beck’s Premier Light.  They cut the calories from light beer by 35% and have nearly 60% fewer calories than traditional beer.  Regular light beers are a calorie bargain with about 95 calories per bottle.  That’s compared to 150 calories in a bottle of regular beer and 300+ calories in mixed drinks.

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