Thursday, February 2, 2012

Healthy (and Delicious!) Super Bowl Food Options

One of the worst parts of dieting is feeling like you cannot participate in certain celebrations.  Celebrating is synonymous with overeating and drinking, and neither of those things mix well with weight loss.  I remember feeling very isolated when I was first trying to lose weight.  I would constantly turn down invitations for events because I was afraid I would completely blow my diet.  I knew this isolation was extremely unhealthy, both mentally and physically, so I worked towards finding a balance between celebrating and healthy living.

A prime example of an event that used to cause my “diet anxiety” was the Super Bowl.  They say that Americans eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day besides Thanksgiving.  Not only do Americans eat a lot on that day, we eat REALLY unhealthy foods. I have found that the best way to avoid killing your diet on Super Bowl Sunday is to host the event yourself, or to bring a few healthy options to an event that you are attending. When all else fails, sit as FAR away from the snack table as possible!

Here are some numbers for your consideration:

Traditional Super Bowl Feast: 1,930 calories

Potato Chips, 2 oz ~300 calories
Onion Dip, ¼ C ~120 calories
Chicken wings, 3 pieces ~300 calories
Large pepperoni pizza, 2 slices ~600 calories
Oreo cookies, 3 ~160 calories
Domestic Lager, 3 bottles ~450 calories


My Super Bowl Feast: 920 calories

Mediterranean platter- roasted red peppers, peperoncinis, baby carrots,
Trader Joe’s eggplant
hummus, Wasa and flat bread crackers (~250

calories/serving)
Warm apple crisp (~200 calories)
2 bottles of light beer (~220 calories)


Planning your own Super Bowl party can be really fun!  I have put together a few suggestions to help you plan the perfect menu:

Dips: Dips made with cheese and/or mayonnaise have a surprising number of calories.  Vegetables dipped in ranch dressing may sound healthy, but ranch has about 140 calories in just 2 tablespoons!  Avocados may have health benefits, but at over 300 calories in one medium avocado, it may be time to reconsider that game time guacamole.

Alternatives:
Salsa
Homemade black or white bean dips
Trader Joe’s eggplant hummus 
Tzatziki sauce
Baba ghanoush
Roasted red pepper spread

Chips: Standard potato and tortilla chips have around 150 calories per ounce.  The varieties that are marketed as healthy (i.e. baked, whole grain, pita chips) are usually not much lower in calories and can sometimes be very unsatisfying.  I suggest forgoing chips all together, and accompanying your dips with a low calorie alternative.


Alternatives:
Ak-mak or Wasa crackers
Trader Joe’s flat bread crackers
Rice crackers
Raw vegetables (baby carrots, broccoli, snap peas)
Kale chips
Mini rice cakes

Entrees: It was a sad day for me when I found out that the average chicken wing has about 100 calories. Seriously, 100 calories PER chicken wing!  After an appetizer of wings, who doesn’t love partaking in delivery pizza (~200-300 calories/slice).  I suppose there is a good reason for the increase in antacid sales the day after the big game.


Alternatives:
Homemade chili
Barbecued chicken breasts
Homemade thin crust pizza
Salmon Burgers

Dessert: If you make a dessert that sits out on the table like cookies or brownies you are more likely to eat more than one. Instead, make a dish that you serve up in the kitchen in small portions.

Alternatives:
Pellegrino with a scoop of orange sherbet

Beverages: Limiting alcohol intake is very important for a healthy diet, but not drinking on days like New Years Eve and the Super Bowl might be too unrealistic.  If you can’t completely eliminate alcohol on these days, avoid mixed drinks (300+ calories) and limit yourself to just a few drinks (alternate with sparkling water).  

Alternatives:
1-2 glasses of wine or champagne
1-2 bottles of a low calorie beer
1 bottle of a full-bodied beer
Sparkling water with lime
Wine spritzer (wine mixed with sparkling water)
Dry Soda

These menu ideas are sure to taste delicious, impress your guests, and leave you feeling healthy the next day!

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