Cut the Fat and Calories From 9 Classic Super Bowl Dishes
Forget Thanksgiving, Super Bowl is the real American eating marathon. Every year, on a cold Sunday in February, millions of Americans hunker down with beer and, more than likely, some of the unhealthiest foods you could possibly think of. A study done by the Calorie Control Council reported in 2015 that the average American consumes at least 2,400 calories during the four to five hours they watch the game. Ouch.
Well, there goes your New Year’s resolution.
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No one wants to munch on celery as they watch the Los Angeles Rams take on the New England Patriots. (Celery is only for dipping in blue cheese between buffalo wings; everyone knows that.) But there are ways to make the most popular game-day foods a little less worse for you.
“Making healthy food swaps is important every day, not just on the day of the Super Bowl,” Gabriele Geerts, registered dietitian at meal kit delivery service Green Chef, tells AskMen. “Since the Super Bowl is such a huge food consumption holiday, it is a great opportunity to make some classic dishes healthier and keep from veering too far from your nutritional goals.”
We chatted with famous chefs to find out how to cut the calories and fat in these classic dishes so you can enjoy them without guilt.
An ooey, gooey pizza pie is a football staple, and there is a fairly easy way to cut carbs from the dish. Dana Murrell, executive chef at Green Chef, suggests subbing your traditional pizza crust for a pre-made cauliflower pizza crust in the frozen aisle.
“There are even a few that have just the plain base shell that allows you to customize the top. This is a great substitute for a low-carb or gluten-free options that also helps sneak in an added vegetable,” Murrell explains to AskMen. “However, if you want to stay with a more traditional pizza, there are a lot of toppings you can use to make it healthier. Subbing turkey pepperoni for regular is an easy swap that no one will even notice. Adding more vegetables can boost the pizza — think fresh spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes.”
Beans. Sour cream. Guacamole. Cheese. Salsa. Tomatoes. Onions. These magical ingredients come together to make a tasty seven-layer dip, a nearly guaranteed hit at any Super Bowl party. Steve DiFillippo, the chef and owner of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse and the official Taste of the NFL chef representing the Patriots, says this staple can be made healthier simply by skipping the premade dip and making it from scratch instead. “Use homemade ingredients,” he tells AskMen. “Homemade, mashed black beans and fresh avocado are great to use. Skip the sour cream and use plain Greek yogurt.”
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If you’re not melting cheese on chips, are you even enjoying the Super Bowl? For the burgeoning chef who wants to make their nachos healthier, celebrity chef Cat Cora tells AskMen that you should consider using an air fryer instead of buying deep fried chips. When it comes to toppings, she suggests trading a full fat cheese for fat-free feta, using low-fat sour cream and loading up on veggies to fill you up.
Why eat plain potato chips when you can dip them in delicious French onion dip? It’s seriously so hard to pass up, so it’s necessary to make swaps to make it better for you. Antonia Lofaso, “Top Chef” alum and the owner of Black Market Liquor Bar, suggests removing a standard ingredient.
“To keep your French onion dip as traditional and delicious as the original, omit the mayonnaise completely, as it is usually a processed product, and instead, use a full fat sour cream,” she recommends to AskMen. “I would also suggest adding vegetables into the dip — such as chopped spinach, roasted peppers and/or pickled artichokes — and allow the creaminess to come from the sour cream.”
If you have someone to man the grill on February 3, burgers are a can’t miss. DiFillippo says that if you want to be healthier, eating a bison burger is a great alternative to a beef burger, even one that is 90 percent lean meat. If you insist on a beef patty, “add lots of veggies,” celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck tells AskMen. “Cook two very thin patties and sear it hot, season with salt and pepper, and cook mustard into the patty to give that extra flavor. Add lots of vegetables in between — lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, avocados.”
Nearly every Super Bowl party across the country ends with a bucket overflowing with chicken bones that were once delicious buffalo wings. Cora suggests passing on buying wings from your local bar, and instead air frying them yourself. When preparing the sauce for the wings, she recommends swapping butter with coconut oil, which is loaded with saturated fats that raise your good cholesterol, instead of your bad!
If you insist on buying a premade sauce, Lofaso, who also has a catering company in southern California, suggests finding a sauce with the least amount of sugar. “Many of the bottled sauces at the store are processed and contain additives to extend the shelf life of the sauce,” she explains. “If you are going to add sugar, that’s OK! But add it yourself by using a natural sweetener such as honey, molasses or agave.”
Football fans are going to be filling their bowls up with chili, which is easy to make healthier for you. Murrell suggests in addition to meat and beans, load up your slow cooker up with veggies. Try sweet potatoes or winter squash, which can handle the long simmer a chili needs. She also prefers to spice the chili herself in order to control how much salt ends up in the dish. This will prevent your sodium intake from spiking completely out of control.
Staples of any football viewing party (or, Maroon 5 for the Halftime Show, depending on why you’re really watching) are potatoes and cheese, which get mixed with bacon, onions and ranch for potato skins. Cora suggests using sweet potatoes instead of traditional Russet potatoes, or using a smaller potato, like a tiny fingerling, so people eat less. When topping it with a homemade ranch, she suggests using greek yogurt as a base.
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It’s when hearing the words “spinach” and “artichoke” to trick your brain into thinking you’re not eating something bad for you. However, you’ll have to make a few swaps in order to bring the fat down. “My favorite substitute for any dip containing sour cream or mayonnaise is full-fat Greek yogurt,” Murrell explains. “For alternatives to chips, I love to use the pre-cut carrots that are sliced with a wavy cutter. Another favorite is plantain chips in place of potato chips.” While it certainly is hard to resist those salty, fried favorites, choosing something healthier to dip with is an easy way to slow your caloric consumption down.
Most of these swaps are easy to do and your guests may barely notice, but your body will. Adds Geerts, “Don’t forget: Not everything has to be a swap or replacement. Adding nutrients like fiber and protein to a dish is just as beneficial — think nuts, cut vegetables, beans, and greek yogurt!”
And if you find it difficult to resist all these tasty foods, Geerts advises remembering the importance of portion control. “Do not let anyone else serve you. This will keep you in control of your portions,” she says. “Stand or sit opposite the food during the game to help eliminate unconscious snacking. And remember to eat a balanced meal prior to the game! You are more likely to overeat if you go hungry.”
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