I just read on the Huffington Post that on average 1,200 calories are consumed from snacks while watching the Super Bowl. That certainly gives pause to consider what you might serving at your Super Bowl spread and it also suggests a challenge…Can you find healthful choices that taste great and satisfy that salty, crunchy, creamy craving with less than 1,200 calories?
Start with Salty – Changing up the Chips/Crackers and Salted Nuts
A little salt goes a long way to satisfying our taste buds so maybe this year purchasing reduced-sodium options of chips and crackers can provide flavor and perhaps be healthier for your heart too. Look for the words “sodium-reduced” meaning that the product contains 25% less sodium than regular products or “lightly salted” meaning that the product contains 50% less salt than the regular item on food labels. When you consume less sodium, you will be less thirsty and might consume fewer high calorie beverages along with your chips or crackers. We are on our way to getting less calories already!
Nuts are a healthy food in small batches. Look for unsalted or “lightly-salted” single serving packs or use small tasting cups (1/4 cup size) on a party platter to encourage portion control.
Lots of snack foods go “crunch” – tortilla chips, potato chips, celery and carrot sticks, Chex ™ mix, pretzels, multigrain crackers, pita chips. Let’s just separate these into the higher fat and lower fat content and then consider fiber content. Generally, higher fat foods that are not highly processed make us feel full. However, most snack chips are in the highly processed category so we don’t get satiated very quickly from them. That is why having a lower fat, higher fiber, less processed food will help you reduce your snacking habits.
Clever Creamy Options
It is just one of those perfect combinations…crunchy and creamy. For your Super Bowl spread, there are many options to making a dip worthy of inclusion in a healthy diet. For creamy, lower fat substitutes for regular sour cream there are reduced-fat sour cream, low fat Greek-style yogurt, and low fat regular yogurt. Creamy hummus is high in fiber and nutrients and is simple to make at home with just garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste in your blender. A California favorite is guacamole; filled with heart healthy oils, add salsa to get more nutritious vegetables and to reduce the total fat content of the dip. Another delicious idea is to warm up some refried beans with grilled onions and a little chili pepper as a dip or spread for chips and crackers. A sweet yogurt dip can be served with a sliced apple platter for a low calorie creamy/crunchy combination.
While I’m not suggesting that all the food on your Super Bowl table should be low fat, strategically including healthy snack options will help you and your guests feel good about the tasty choices they are making. Particularly on the day after the Super Bowl, when they only have to add one extra workout next week to burn off their extra Super Bowl calories!
Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
p.s. Send me your nutrition questions so I can write about them in my blog!