For many football fans, the Super Bowl is synonymous with junk food. Soda, potato chips, nachos piled high with cheese, spicy wings, greasy pizza, beer, mozzarella sticks … It’s like we’re all trying to beef up and become linebackers for our favorite teams. Except, most of us watching the game aren’t usually training as vigorously as the athletes on the field. And even if we were, those foods aren’t going to treat you right in the long run. Just thinking about the typical Super Bowl party spread makes me feel lethargic.
That’s why it’s a good thing the Super Bowl aligns with the American Heart Association’s Heart Healthy month, which is observed throughout the month of February. Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in America. Close behind are cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes and many others. The common denominator to preventing all of them is a healthy diet. When I say diet, I don’t mean any of the number of fad diets out there. I just mean the simple concept of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-sodium foods, and healthy fats. And eating those indulgent foods that don’t fit into those categories in moderation. Our risk of contracting many chronic diseases, such has heart disease or diabetes, are all lessened by these healthy food choices in combination with regular exercise.
So, this Sunday, when you huddle up to watch the game, choose your snacks wisely. Try to get a little physical activity between quarters, too (besides just getting up to fill the chip bowl, I mean).
Here’s a quick and easy list of heart healthy, but still tasty, Super Bowl snacks:
Popcorn: Make it on the stovetop, or air pop it, and lightly coat it with olive oil spray, a dash of salt, and your favorite herbs. You can use garlic granules, cayenne pepper, dill, basil, or whatever else you like.
Whole Wheat Pita Chips: These make great dippers. Preheat your oven to 350° F, and split six pita breads into two round pieces each (12 total). Cut each circle into wedges and arrange them in a single layer on one or more cookie sheets. Spray them with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder if desired. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the chips are lightly browned and very crisp.
Trail Mix: Make your own trail mix for a smart snack. Start with some nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds or mixed nuts). Throw in some dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or banana chips. Finish it off with small size pretzels and a high-fiber cereal such as wheat or bran Chex, oatmeal squares or a bran cereal.
Turkey Sausages: Eat them in whole-wheat buns, served with a tossed salad.
Sandwiches: Use reduced fat mayo, mustard, lean meats, and plenty of veggies (pepper strips, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers and grated carrots).
Vegetable Platter: Include carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, served with a low fat dip, or salsa.
Cereal Mix: Mix two cups whole-grain toasted oat cereal with 1/2 cup chopped unsalted nuts and 1/2 cup dried fruit.
Baked Chips: Serve them with plain yogurt or salsa, rather than sour cream dip.
Celery Sticks: Spread unsweetened peanut butter onto them, and top with raisins.
Drinks: Chilled water, real lemonade with slices of fresh fruit, or small glasses of fresh fruit smoothies. If you favor hot drinks, try flavored teas, or low calorie hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon or grated orange.
Fresh Fruit: Kiwi, melon, pineapples, grapes, berries, orange wedges, apples slices. The list goes on … Serve with natural yogurt.
Homemade Sorbet: Make up small glasses of 100% pure orange juice, frozen and eaten as dessert.
Here are some winning recipes for your celebration:
8 whole wheat English muffins
1/2 cup low-sodium pizza sauce (avoid products with partially hydrogenated oils)
16 slices fat free mozzarella cheese (any cheese will do)
1 cup steamed spinach
Cut the English muffins in half. Spread sauce over the muffins. Place spinach and cheese over sauce. Broil in the oven for 1-2 minutes in the oven until cheese melts.
Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
24 chicken drummettes, skinned
1/4 cup bottled cayenne pepper sauce
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Carrot and celery sticks
In a large bowl toss the drummettes with 2 tablespoons of the cayenne pepper sauce, 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar, garlic powder, and ginger. Arrange drummettes on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, turning once. Drizzle chicken with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper sauce and 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sour cream, blue cheese, green onion, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar. Serve dressing with chicken drummettes and carrot and celery sticks.
White Bean Dip
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
3 medium garlic cloves, minced 1/8 tsp. salt
1 can (15 1/2 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper
Garnish: 1/2 tsp. paprika or chopped fresh parsley
For dipping: fresh vegetables such as colorful peppers, broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and carrots
To prepare dip, heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic, stirring constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. In food processor or blender, combine garlic-olive oil mixture, beans and lemon juice. Process until smooth, slowly adding 1-2 Tbsp. water.
This is a healthy alternative to soda. Use any 100% fruit juice you like (i.e. grape, apple, etc.)
100% Frozen Orange Juice (from concentrate)
Plain seltzer water
Follow the directions on the can of frozen juice concentrate, but replace the plain water with and seltzer water.