Consider slimming down those Super Bowl Sunday snacks

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Forget the football and the commercials — Super Bowl Sunday is all about the snacks.
Whether you’re rooting for the Steelers or the Cardinals, or neither team for that matter, all partaking in a Super Bowl celebration are likely just as excited about the chips and dip, chicken wings, cold beverages and ooey, gooey crock-pot wonders as they are about the actual game.
There are ways to lessen the blow of high-calorie, high-fat appetizers and snacks that won’t leave game-day grazers feeling cheated.
“I don’t care about football, but I have a family of all men, so I end up watching a lot of football,” said Janis Wikoff, a Foothill Farmers Market Association enthusiast.
Wikoff ends up preparing the annual Super Bowl spread.
“I try to make it easy on myself, I try to make it filling and nutritious, so there will be something everybody enjoys,” she said.
One of Wikoff’s favorite healthy offerings is hummus.
“It’s nutritious because it’s chickpeas, tahini, which is sesame paste, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice,” she said. “I like it because it’s nutritious and filling and you can serve a lot of different things with it.”
Anything you can do to get people to eat their vegetables, and fruit for that matter, is worth a shot.
Dawntrix Kerry, owner of Pacha Mama’s in Downtown Auburn, recently tried and fell in love with a friend’s apple dip. Sliced apples drizzled with lemon juice were served with a mixture of cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla. A low-fat cream cheese could taste just as good as the regular version.
“It’s kind of like an apple cheesecake,” Kerry said.
Get football fans to eat their vegetables by grilling them on skewers, suggests Rosemary Carter, UC Cooperative Extension youth Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program representative.
Considering ways to incorporate low-fat and nonfat ingredients in even the heartiest Super Bowl snacks can make a big difference, Carter said.
“My feeling is, start with what you really want to serve and think of ways you can lighten it up,” she said. “Some things, if you think about it, aren’t that bad, like seven-layer dip.”
To lighten the load of those seven layers, use low-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream and refried beans.
“You’re having the same exact food, but lighter,” Carter said. “It’s all those little things in the long run that make a difference.”
It’s also a good idea to reconsider cooking techniques. For example, barbecue chicken wings instead of frying and coating them in sauce, Carter said. Or, throw out the wings altogether in lieu of leaner meat, like grilled chicken or beef skewers. Making smarter meat choices means using lean beef or lean ground turkey in your chili or meatballs.
The best advice when trying to lighten up the Super Bowl spread? Keep your mouth shut about the health-conscious preparations.
“Don’t tell people because I think people have a pre-conceived idea,” Carter said. “Don’t put it out and say, ‘Oh, this is a healthy dip,’ because nobody will eat it.”

Creamy Spinach Dip
(with permission from Eating Well)
1 small shallot, peeled
1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed
1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Pulse shallot and water chestnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until just combined. Add spinach and chives and pulse until incorporated.

Hot Crab Dip
1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
6 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced red onion
7-10 dashes hot sauce
2 6-ounce cans of crab, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Blend all ingredients except crab. Add crab and blend. Place in heat-proof bowl or small casserole dish. Bake in 350° oven for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with sliced baguettes or low-fat crackers.

Turkey meatballs
Trim some of the fat but not the flavor by using lean ground turkey to make these meatballs, suggests Rosemary Carter of the UC Cooperative Extension.

1 1/4 pound ground turkey breast or lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 egg
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2-3 tablespoons minced onions
Salt and pepper
Jar of spaghetti sauce or homemade sauce

Mix all ingredients except sauce. Form meatballs and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Layer meatballs and sauce in crock pot. Serve alone or on rolls.