Tips for Planning a Healthy Football Party Menu
With a little planning and food substitutions, you can enjoy the big game with chili, chips, dips and desserts but without the fat and calories.
By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Contributing Writer
It's game day. While hard-core fans will focus on the action, everyone looks forward to the food, too. Think of football party staples like meaty chili, potato skins, chips and ranch dips.
But you don't have to resort to this high-fat, high-calorie, high-salt fare. With a little creativity, you can cook up nutritious, low-calorie snacks, without having to sacrifice taste! Be creative to find ways to decrease the fat and salt content of any favorite recipes. Your guests won’t taste the difference and their bodies will thank you for it.
Tips for snacks and appetizers
- Spare calories and fat. Blend your favorite dried dip blend into low-fat sour cream, whipped cottage cheese or plain fat-free yogurt. Even better, mix half low-fat sour cream with half fat-free yogurt and add your favorite spices to make a healthy dip.
- Mash ripe avocado with fresh salsa for a quick and delicious guacamole that's rich in healthy monounsaturated fat.
- Turn a layered bean dip into a nutrition powerhouse. Layer fat-free, low-sodium refried beans mixed with a can of rinsed black beans, some salsa and chili powder. Melt low-fat shredded cheese onto the beans. Add low-fat sour cream and a mixture of diced avocado, fresh tomato, romaine lettuce and sliced black olives.
- Include plenty of vegetables. Go for a rainbow effect with orange carrots, yellow peppers, red cherry tomatoes, green celery and zucchini. It will look great and be full of antioxidants.
- Think low-fat. Buy hard pretzels, whole-wheat pretzels and whole-grain crackers, baked tortilla chips and reduced-fat potato chips.
- Combine low-sugar cereals with unsalted pretzels, unsalted slivered almonds, unsalted peanuts and raisins or other dried fruit.
- Substitute. Instead of bacon and high-fat cheddar cheese for potato skins, use reduced-fat bacon bits, salsa, a little low-fat shredded cheese and low-fat sour cream. Season with chili powder, paprika, garlic and onion powder.
- Try seafood. Many people love grilled shrimp or shrimp cocktail. Shrimp is low in fat and calories.
Tips for main dishes
- For a hearty but lower-fat chili, use extra-lean beef or a combination of lean beef and lean ground turkey breast. Use less than what the recipe calls for and add more low-salt beans and no-added-salt tomatoes. Complement it with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and a sprinkle of reduced-fat cheese.
- Instead of frying chicken, trying baking it instead. Cut up one pound of skinless chicken. Coat with 1/4 cup flour seasoned with paprika, pepper, garlic and onion powder and a dash of salt. Dip in one egg white mixed with 1/4 cup buttermilk, and then roll in crushed cornflakes. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Dip in ketchup, BBQ sauce or honey-mustard dressing.
- Have a deli platter with lean meats like turkey, ham and roast beef. Serve with roasted red peppers, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and shredded cabbage. In addition to the traditional rolls, offer whole-wheat pitas. If you make tuna or chicken salad, use low-fat mayonnaise.
- Offer a hearty salad with more veggies than lettuce. Fill it with colorful bell peppers, carrots, diced fresh tomatoes, radishes, purple cabbage and some corn and sliced olives. Serve with olive oil vinaigrette and lemon or lime juice.
Tips for dessert
- Fruit. Serve a colorful fruit salad.
- Less fat. Bake a batch of low-fat brownies.
- Add fruit. Make an easy apple or pear crisp. Place six sliced fresh apples or pears (or both) in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Mix together 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup of trans-fat-free butter until crumbly. Add 1/2 cup raw oatmeal, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Mix together. Sprinkle evenly on top of fruit and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly.
Keep it healthy — and safe
When cooking for your family or friends, remember these terms: clean, separate, cook and chill to serve healthy and safe food.
- Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate: Don't cross-contaminate.
- Cook: Cook to the right temperature.
- Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
Greg Breining contributed to this report.