The Super Bowl is an eating extravaganza for most Americans: While watching the big game, we consume an average of 1,200 calories from snacking alone, making Super Bowl Sunday the second-largest food consumption day of the year after Thanksgiving, according to a report from the Calorie Control Council.
This year, we'll be just as inclined to snack, but that doesn't mean we have to overindulge: We decided to ask some experts for their tips on avoiding the countless treats on offer between the couch and the big screen. We called up some of the most trusted nutritionists to ask what they'll serve at their Super Bowl parties.
Luckily, what these dishes lack in saturated fat and empty calories, they make up for in flavor: Think twists on classic Super Bowl favorites (dips, redefined), along with a few new traditions (like lamb and guacamole sliders) to add to the mix.
Here, their tips for making many more delicious, healthfully revamped Super Bowl snacks below. Scroll down for full recipes -- then tell us in the comments: how will you improve your spread?
Rich Dips With Lots Of Flavor And Little Fat
No Super Bowl party is complete without a creamy dip. But, heavy cheese or sour cream don't need to be your dip's base. Some lighter options: "I try to choose healthier dips -- like hummus, roasted eggplant spread, salsa, and guacamole -- rather than the sour-cream and cheese-based dips. And of course, tons of crunchy, colorful vegetables to go with them." --<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-reinagel-ms-ldn-cns/"> Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS </a> "Hummus, herbed Greek yogurt dip, guacamole and salsa with baked corn chips and flax crackers." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Rochelle Sirota, MS, RD</a> "I like to have a mix of healthy and fun (a.k.a decadent) foods so that you can enjoy 'Super Bowl foo'" without the 4,000 calories. Dips like spinach and artichoke -- or my favorite <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/spicy-pepper-goat-cheese-spread">spicy pepper goat cheese spread</a> with slices of baguette." -- Emily Dingmann, Nutritionist, from <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/">A Nutritionist Eats</a> "Instead of a high fat dip, I make mine with two percent Greek yogurt, which is already thick and creamy. I add in fresh herbs and spices like dill, garlic, and lemon juice. Of course, serving dips like black bean dip, salsa and guacamole is an easy way to get more nutrients. Just make sure your "chips" are made with a few simple ingredients and get whole grain tortilla chips if you can." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD</a> "Enjoy the guacamole, which is made from heart-healthy avocados. Try to swap the tortilla chips for a few whole-grain crackers." -- <a href="http://www.drwayneandersen.com/">Dr. Wayne Andersen, Co-Founder of Take Shape for Life</a>
Adding a variety of nuts to your spread is an effortless way to incorporate some healthy and filling fats to the menu. And to add a bit of portion control, the experts lean toward nuts with shells: "For an informal party like the superbowl, I like to put out bowls of peanuts in the shells. They're less salty than mixed nuts and, more importantly, having to shell the nuts slows you down a bit and helps keep you from overeating. (Fair warning: they are a bit messy! Count on vacuuming when it's all over.)" --<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-reinagel-ms-ldn-cns/"> Reinagel </a> "I serve pistachios. Not only are they delicious, but they have the shell that helps to slow down how fast people can eat them. The serving is generous -- 49 kernels, compared to other nuts, like cashews, that have only 11 [per serving]. They are a good source of protein and the 'good' fats which help increase satiety and satisfaction which may help keep a person from over-indulging." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> And for a little sweetness: "Cacao dusted almonds." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a>
Don't Get Delivery...
Make it in your kitchen. While you might be tempted to order in a few pies from your local pizzeria, making pizza at home can be a much healthier, but still delicious option, since you control the ingredients. Check out Blatner's BBQ Pita Pizza recipe above or, if you're getting down to the wire, pick a frozen option: "If you’re crunched for time or just not in the mood to cook, a healthy pizza can still be part of your Super Bowl menu. The frozen food section in the grocery store can be overwhelming. Too much sodium, too much sugar and too good to be true typically come to mind. I’m going to make it easy for you this year. When my clients have a pizza craving, I tell them to keep a Kashi Thin Crust Pizza BBQ Recipe Chicken in their freezer. It’s packed with whole grains, fiber and protein, which will help you feel full faster. It will be the hit of the party!" -- Heather Bauer, RD, founder of <a href="http://www.bestowed.com/">Bestowed.com</a>
Crunch On Some Crudités
Perfect to pair with (healthful!) dips, or just for munching on their own. "Raw veggies for munching and bulking up your plate: Carrots, cucumber, bell pepper strips, grape tomatoes and celery sticks (with a low-calorie greek yogurt dip perhaps)." -- Dingmann "Tri-color peppers with roasted pepper hummus -- full of color and fiber!" -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, LDN, CDE</a> "Of course, I'll serve a smattering of colorful raw vegetables like baby carrots, cucumber, peppers, and celery. I make my own "platter" to control the quality of each ingredient." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a>
It's All About The Shrimp
The players on the field aren't the only ones who benefit from filling up on lean protein: You and your party guests will want shrimp's low-fat power for extra energy during (what we're hoping will be) the exhilarating half-time show. "Shrimp cocktail is another great option. High protein, low fat and people like it." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "Steamed shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce -- the Super Bowl can be tempting with endless wings, but try to reach for more veggies and lean protein choices." -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Ginn-Meadow</a> Or as <a href="<a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a> recommends, try grilling some wild shrimp for a different flavor and the same appealing nutritional profile.
Choose A More Colorful Chili
One nutritionist dubbed chili "a classic football party food," and we'd have to agree: It's a pretty simple dish that can feed dozens of hungry guests. And depending on how you prepare it, the dish can be a nutritionist's dream food: "I always make a big batch of chili -- it's a classic football party food but it's actually loaded with fiber, protein and vegetables. (Shh! Don't tell anyone.)" -- Reinagel "Typically I have a big pot of chili on the stove simmering. Depending on who's attending the party, it may be veggie chili or I may add ground turkey breast or ground round. I've used venison before from a hunter friend who preps and stores his own meat. Toppings include sliced green onions, reduced fat sour cream, shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese and Fritos (love the crunch)." -- <a href="http://www.susanmitchell.org/">Susan Mitchell, Ph.D., RD, LD/N, FAND</a> "Three-bean chili with mini corn muffins. -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Ginn-Meadow</a>
Remake Sides For The Snack Happy
Cheese doodles and pretzel rods might just be snacks of the past. Our nutritionists are serving tasty snacks that have a nutritional purpose, and they won't leave a neon-orange residue on your fingers. "Kale chips, black olives, grilled and roasted vegetables, popcorn, boiled eggs, and vegetarian sushi rolls filled with brown rice, avocado, cucmber and carrots." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a> "Make sure your "chips" are made with a few simple ingredients and get whole grain tortilla chips if you can. -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "Fruit with Greek yogurt dip." -- <a href="http://www.sarahremmer.com/">Sarah Remmer, RD</a>
Sliders And Minis
You can still serve everyones favorite meat-centric dishes: these experts suggest keeping portions small -- think sliders -- to provide the tastes everyone craves without going overboard on calories. "These menu items lend themselves to being prepared ahead. Think bite-size nibbles, kabobs, plump shrimp, tiny sandwiches. The added bonus is that finger foods are less messy and will minimize clean-up time the next day. (And If you’re bringing the appetizer, your hostess will thank you for it, because it minimizes her need for extra plates or silverware.) If it can’t be consumed with one hand, rethink it." -- <a href="www.cherylforberg.com">Forberg</a> Some more ideas from our experts: "I'm serving BBQ pulled pork sliders made with pork tenderloin, so they will be low in fat and the sliders will help keep portion sizes in check." -- <a href="http://appleadaynutrition.net/blog/">Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN</a> "As a main course, I'll serve sliders made with ground lamb. On average, lamb is lean and nutrient rich. Lamb is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals to help fill up your guests. Lamb is full of flavor and will help make the party memorable. The slider size helps people cut back on their portions. I'll leave off the cheese and instead serve toppers of salsa and avocados or guacamole." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "My ideal Super Bowl menu would have a protein component like turkey meatballs, grilled chicken drumsticks or chicken sausage pieces with toothpicks." -- <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/">Dingmann</a> "Mini turkey burgers topped with wilted spinach and caramelized onions." -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Ginn-Meadow</a>
While beer commercials might try to sway you otherwise, remember that you don't want to drink all of your calories (plus, it's a Sunday. Do you <em>really</em> want to go to work with a hangover?) Our experts suggest some festive concoctions that will keep you hydrated: "I'm serving rooibos & mint herbal iced teas and sparkling water with lemon, lime and orange wedges." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a></blockquote> Or try <a href="http://dawnjacksonblatner.com/">Blatner's</a> New Orleans Hurricane Cocktail (see recipe, above).
You don't have to serve that store-bought football-shaped monstrosity of a cake to cater to your guests' sweet tooth. "<a href="http://pinterest.com/pin/112238215684137801/">These chocolate clusters</a> are always a hit…easy to make and portable." -- <a href="http://www.susanmitchell.org/">Susan Mitchell, Ph.D., RD, LD/N, FAND</a> "For a sweet treat, I'm making brownies filled with antioxidant-rich cocoa powder, cut into small squares. Put a dab of green frosting on top and a brown peanut M&M as a football with a squirt of white frosting for laces!" -- <a href="http://appleadaynutrition.net/blog/">Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN</a></blockquote> "For dessert, I'll serve fruit skewers with strawberries and blueberries and bite size pieces of brownies." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "Fruit kabobs." -- <a href="http://appleadaynutrition.net/blog/">Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN</a>
Healthy Super Bowl French Onion Dip Recipe
Learn how to make a healthy French onion dip for the Super Bowl.
Hungry? HuffPost Healthy Living blogger Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D. created an entire menu, her "Healthy Super Bowl Spread" just for us. We won't be surprised if you decide to recreate the entire thing -- we're planning on it:
New Orleans Hurricane Cocktail Makes 1 serving (1 cup each)
1/4 cup 100% pineapple juice
1 peeled orange
6 frozen unsweetened cherries
Blend ingredients until smooth. Add ice for a thicker consistency.
Nutrition Info (1 cup):
120 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 25g sugar, 2g protein, vitamin A 6%, vitamin C 130%, calcium 6%, iron 2%
Makes 3 cups
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon FranksÔ RedHot cayenne pepper sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Blend ingredients until smooth. Serve with bean chips (like Beanito) and carrots & celery sticks.
Nutrition Info (2 Tablespoons):
50 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 75mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugar, 2g protein, vitamin A 0%, vitamin C 2%, calcium 2%, iron 2%
BBQ Chicken Pita Pizzas
Makes 6 servings (1 whole pita w/ toppings each)
2 cups shredded baked/grilled chicken
3/4 cup natural BBQ sauce
6 whole grain pitas
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss chicken in BBQ sauce. Place pitas on a baking sheet. Place BBQ chicken, green onion, red onion and mozzarella evenly on pitas. Bake 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and pitas are crisp. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Nutrition Info (1 pita w/toppings):
310 calories, 10g total fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 60mg cholesterol, 630mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 7g sugar, 28g protein, vitamin A 8%, vitamin C 8%, calcium 30%, iron 10%
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Popcorn
Makes 6 servings (1 cup each)
6 cups air-popped popcorn
4 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips, melted
2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter, warmed
Place popcorn on baking sheet. Drizzle with chocolate and peanut butter. Let set in fridge for 10 minutes. Enjoy.
Nutrition Info (1 cup):
100 calories, 5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 2g protein, vitamin A 0%, vitamin C 0%, calcium 0%, iron 2%
Cheryl Forberg, R.D., also shared her lightened-up version of some Super Bowl classics. Find her recipe for french onion dip and arugula pesto stuffed mushrooms below:
French Onion Dip
Forberg says, "It takes a little time to simmer the onions, but the result is so worth waiting for. This tastes just like “the real thing” with a fraction of the calories and fat."
Makes about 3 cups or twelve 1/4 cup servings) Ingredients:
2 1/4 pounds yellow onions, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
Cut the onions in half vertically, and then slice them horizontally into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds.
Heat olive oil a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Stir well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to simmer stirring regularly for about 20 to 30 minutes, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. The onions will be light to medium golden (not dark) browned and caramelized. Cool onions completely.
Place onions in bowl of a food processor. Pulses a few times until onion are slightly chopped. Remove half of the onions and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Return the remaining onions to the food processor. Add the onion powder and process until completely pureed. Add the cream cheese, and yogurt and process just until smooth. Add to the chopped onion mixture . Stir well.
Taste for seasonings. Chill completely. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with Italian parsley leaves. Serve with your favorite baked chips.
Arugula Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms
Forberg says: "If you’re a mushroom-lover, you’ll adore this recipe. Try substituting different dried or fresh mushrooms in the filling. Recipe can be prepared in advance for easy entertaining."
Makes 12 stuffed mushrooms
12 shiitake mushrooms, approx 1-1/2 inches in diameter
1 (1/2 oz. pkg.) dried shiitake mushrooms (or one 1/2 oz pkg. of other dried mushroom)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh brown cremini mushrooms (or other fresh mushroom)
2 ounces (2 bunches) fresh arugula, quickly blanched, cooled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons walnuts, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese, divided
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Trim and discard the stem of each shiitake mushroom. Set caps aside.
Place the dried mushrooms in bowl of warm water; press to submerge.
Let stand until the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.
Lift mushrooms from water, being carefully not to stir any sediment that may have sunken to the bottom. Lightly squeeze excess water from mushrooms and roughly chop. Strain mushroom water and reserve for another use.
Combine the dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, walnuts, garlic, and arugula in a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.
Add oil and 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Pulse just to combine. Transfer to mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. There will be about 1 1/2 cups of filling. It should be just moist enough to stick together but not wet. If not using filling right away, cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. At this point: the recipe can be prepared a day ahead of time and refrigerated up until baking time.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mound 1 tablespoon of filling into each shiitake cap with a spoon, pressing firmly with the inside of the spoon to form a smooth mound. Place stuffed mushroom caps on a baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes until lightly browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.