The heat is on in New England despite the date on the calendar! Yes, our Patriots are off to Houston, and are one game away from repeating their 2015 championship. While all eyes will be on the game and the commercials, the food served is also a focal point of the festivities.
Super Bowl parties can mean BIG calories and anxious hours of munching (and drinking). Fans arrive with loads of team spirit and super-sized appetites! To avoid overindulgence, here are some of my healthy eating plays for the big day:
Since the kick-off is around dinnertime (EST, at least), eat lunch and maybe a snack before you leave home.
When you arrive at the party, scope out the entire table of goodies and know your options. Otherwise, you can easily load your plate up with too much food.
Alcohol will be flowing, so make sure you drink sensibly and remain hydrated. Try to rotate alcohol with a variety of non-alcoholic options, like seltzer water, unsweetened iced tea or flavored waters.
Choose foods you want the most and not indulge in them all!
Starting Line Appetizers
Whether you are hosting, or bringing goodies, have some fun with team colors. For us Patriot fans that means red, white and blue so how about some tzatziki yogurt dip or a red bean dip with sliced vegetables or blue tortilla chips? Shrimp cocktail, soft pretzels with a peanut dipping sauce, or seasoned popcorn also make for healthy snack options.
Nothing says football better than a hearty crock of hot chili. Ground turkey makes for a healthier, low-fat version and your guests will never know you made the switch. Top it with low-fat, shredded Monterey Jack or jalapeno cheese for an extra kick. I add avocado to mine- rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and I hear they are one of Tom Brady’s favorite foods! Chili also makes a great baked potato stuffer. Bake up some potassium-packed white/sweet potatoes and line up some other fixings, like fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, chives, and plain Greek yogurt.. When it comes to Texas chili vs. New England chili…well, let’s just say that’s a whole other cook-off competition of Super Bowl stature!
Crockpots are an easy way to prepare football game favorites. Meatballs (turkey meat is, again, my fave) can be made and frozen weeks ahead of time. On game day, toss them in a crockpot with prepared tomato sauce and you are good to go. Slow cooked, pulled BBQ pork is always a crowd pleaser that can simmer in a crockpot for hours as the game is on. Serve with whole-wheat tortillas or taco shells along with a variety of stuffers like low-fat shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, beans, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos.
As New Englanders, we brave the winter elements and continue to grill outdoors. For the meat lovers, serve beef sliders with sautéed mushrooms, onions and bell peppers, and thinly, sliced deli cheese. For a lighter fare, cook up some spicy, chicken tenders. For the vegetarians, serve veggie burgers with a platter of grilled portabella mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant. Couscous or quinoa make great accompaniments for all offerings.
Want easy? Set up a sandwich bar; roll up some Buffalo style chicken, turkey, ham, or roast beef deli meat and pair with whole grain pita pockets. My favorite bread is a sprouted bread called Dave’s Killer Bread. Hummus, mustard, and guacamole make healthier sandwich spreads than mayonnaise.
I’m a huge fan of coleslaw. Cabbage is packed with phyto-nutrients, which makes coleslaw the perfect choice to accompany any of the party main fares. If you don’t want to make your own from scratch, there’s nothing wrong with picking up packages of the slaw mix. I make my own dressing by mixing in equal amounts of mayonnaise and vanilla yogurt; toss in raisins, which are full of iron and fiber. Nothing says New England better than protein-packed Boston baked beans but no need to slow cook the legumes like our forefathers did. Pick up a few cans of baked beans and toss into a crockpot – your guests will never know the difference.
There will be a lot of pacing up and down the dessert table as the game is going on. Guests will enjoy munching on some oatmeal raisin cookies, granola bars, or an assortment of fruits (I love clementines this time of the year). And perhaps a small basket of heart-healthy dark chocolate squares to protect that ticker of yours through some tense moments of the game!
The menu is ready! We are all set for the coin toss. Go Pats!!