HEALTHY LIVING

7 Smart Food Swaps For A Healthier Super Bowl Sunday

01/31/2014 08:43 am ET | Updated Jan 31, 2014

Traditional Super Bowl fare -- we're talking wings, nachos, pizza, beer -- isn't exactly the type of food that would, say, fuel a body to run, throw or tackle.

It's not just that they lack nutrition, either. We also eat a ton of 'em. Case in point: Americans eat more calories on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year, except for Thanksgiving. The Super Bowl is cause for our second-biggest gorge-fest of the year, people!

Still, it's only once a year -- and we know if you're that big a nachos fan, there's probably little you'll let come between you and the queso dip. That's why we asked Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, LDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better to let us in on a few easy tricks for making your favorite Super Bowl snacks just a little bit lighter. The best news? "Every little bit where you save some calories counts," says Ward. "Nothing has to be super radical, no one has to sit around celery stick and carrots instead of pizza." Well, we're convinced! Read on for a few swaps you can incorporate this weekend and beyond.

  • 1 Bake your wings instead of frying them.
  • The worst part of a wing, when it comes to calories, is actually the skin. While baking or broiling can certainly cut down on calories (but still keep 'em crispy), says Ginn-Meadow, you could even take it a step further and opt for a homemade chicken tender or nugget instead, says Ward. She opts for a flavorful, breaded chicken finger like her Coconut Chicken Tenders with Apricot Dijon Mustard sauce. Keep in mind, she says, that when you're making a food swap, make it a really flavorful one, so you'll be more satisfied.
  • 2 Choose more beans instead of meat in your chili.
  • "I make my chili [with] very lean beef and a lot more beans than most people do," says Ward. "You can vary it up with a couple of types of beans," she says. Most types of beans pack 5 to 8 grams of fiber per 3 ounces, which can help fill you up on fewer calories. "Just watch what you put on top!" warns Ward.

    A bean and corn salsa can also make for a more nutrient-dense dip, says Ginn-Meadow.
  • 3 Swap your pizza crust for a whole-wheat tortilla.
  • Cut major calories without all that doughy bread, says Ward.
  • 4 Then top with veggies instead of meat.
  • Adding fresh produce to a pizza is a great way to fill up on fewer slices, says Ward. Ginn-Meadow suggests a pizza bar: Provide your guests with a number of different topping options like turkey pepperoni, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and fresh mozzarella, which is usually lower in sodium, she says.
  • 5 Trade sour cream for Greek yogurt in dips.
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  • A flavorful dip will easily mask a Greek yogurt swap for full-fat sour cream, says Ward.

    Cottage cheese can work, too, just put it in the food processor to refine the texture a bit, she says.
  • 6 Then dig in with veggies instead of chips.
  • You'll get the crunch with a fraction of the calories. If carrots and celery don't excite you, try something a little more out-of-the-ordinary, like jicama.
  • 7 Try a slider instead of a full-size burger.
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  • "If it's indulgent, serve it tapas-style," says Ginn-Meadow. Sliders are a perfect exercise in serving size: You'll get your favorite flavors in a calorie-controlled package.

    You can also try making them with ground turkey or salmon, she says, to cut down on fat.

How will you make your Super Bowl snacks a little bit more nutritious? Let us know in the comments below!

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