There’s no rule that your Super Bowl party has to feature boring sporting-event staples like chicken wings, pizza, chips, and soda. With that in mind, the food detectives at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, are recommending six delicious recipes and packaged foods for Super Bowl entertaining that offer a break from the same old high-calorie, salty, fatty, sugary, and over-processed party fare.
“This Sunday, Americans should be more concerned with over-inflated bellies, not under-inflated footballs,” says CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Consider making at least half of the food you serve on the healthier side of the spectrum, including generous amounts of fresh vegetables or fruit. Not all of your guests will want to eat like a linebacker, anyway.”
If you put anything before your guests to mindlessly nibble on while watching the game, vegetables should be the default option, says CSPI. Fresh veggies contribute to lower rates of heart attack and stroke, especially if they’re replacing higher-calorie salty snacks like pretzels or potato chips. CSPI’s recommendations for Sunday include:
• Veggies & Hummus. Make your own hummus (here’s Mark Bittman’s version). Or buy a packaged brand like Sabra, Tribe, or Athenos. Serve with platters of baby carrots, red pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, or snow peas. A typical hummus has about 50 to 70 calories per two-tablespoon serving.
• Roasted Chickpeas. Chickpeas aren’t just for making hummus. Roasted, they make for a snack that’s high in fiber and a good source of protein. The Good Bean Roasted Chickpea Snacks come in seven flavors, including Cracked Pepper, Thai Coconut, and Smoky Chili & Lime. Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas is another good option, which offers Korean BBQ, Falafel, Wasabi, and other flavors. A quarter cup serving has around 120 calories.
• Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Need a substantial finger-food? This recipe, developed by Nutrition Action culinary director Kate Sherwood, is a great alternative to wings. Flavored with garlic, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, and orange juice, these lettuce wraps are garnished with scallions and slivered tortilla chips. 400 calories per serving.
• Cannellini Beans & Chorizo. Instead of a big vat of chili con carne, consider Sherwood’s 5-ingredient, 20-minute recipe for white beans and chicken or turkey sausage. This dish keeps sodium under control (370 mg) and packs 6 grams of fiber for just 300 calories.
• Clementines. Put out a big bowl full of sweet, easy-to-peel, and kid-friendly clementines (or other variety of mandarin orange). Halos and Cuties are two brand-name varieties of these little seedless, citrus gems, typically sold in bags or small wooden crates. Each has around just 40 calories and a gram or two of fiber.
• Flavored waters. Instead of soda, consider seltzer water spiked with fruit juice, or if you’re more ambitious, pitchers of spa water flavored with slices of citrus fruits, cucumbers, herbs such as basil or mint, and berries.
Snacking aside, CSPI has criticized the National Food League for letting PepsiCo sponsor the halftime show, and celebrities like Katy Perry, Kid President, and Danica Patrick for promoting a sugary drinks, which cause diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other serious health problems.
Katy Perry is the lead performer during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show. Pepsi is “bringing the brand’s Live for Now mindset and one-of-a-kind consumer engagement platforms to provide fans a halftime experience worthy of pop-culture’s biggest stage,” according to a breathless NFL press release.
“Soda companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo claim not to market to children, but kid-friendly celebrities like Katy Perry and Kid President have great appeal to tweens and younger children,” Michael Jacobson points out. “Years from now, these celebrities will likely look back with regret that they promoted a product that causes so much preventable disease and misery.”
Other relevant links:
• A convenient way to eat fruit as a snack. See: Wondering What to Eat for a Snack? Try Dole’s Single-Serve Frozen Fruit Cups
• Our list of top popcorn picks. See: What to Eat: The Healthiest Popcorns You Can Buy
• Here’s how much exercise a 150-pound person would have to do to burn off the calories in some popular snacks. See: Sure You Want that Snack?