Super Bowl Lite! Healthy party snacks

January 14, 2009 4:00:43 PM PST
You can have delicious party snacks that are also healthy. Julie Upton, a registered dietician and communication expert, has some great ideas.

For this year's Super Bowl on February 1, over 100 million other Americans will tune in to watch the game but many won't be aware of the nutrition penalties they rack up over the course of the game.

Super Bowl ranks second only to Thanksgiving for food celebrations. However, unlike Thanksgiving, which can be a fairly balanced meal, Super Bowl's four food groups are chips and dips; pizza; wings and blue cheese dressing and beer.

Since Super Bowl parties begin during the pre-game and continue for the entire game, the party may last six hours or so, meaning that spectators can wolf down 4,000 or more calories (nearly two day's worth of calories) on one day.

Here's some healthier substitutions to make a skinnier Super Bowl party:


Healthy Chips and Dips:
To cut chip calories, opt for air-popped popcorn (up to six cups per 100 calories!) and potato chip alternatives and crackers that are lower in calories and keep saturated fat in check. A great stand-in for potato chips are Pop Chips, because they are popped-like popcorn-so they have half the fat and fewer calories than regular chips. Making your own baked pita chips instead of using tortilla chips for guac is an easy way to cut calories as well.

During the Big Game, Americans will eat nearly 50 million pounds of Hass avocados, or enough guac to fill Tampa stadium field five feet deep in guacamole. Use recipes that include lots of chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic. Other healthy dips to include at your party are bean dip, salsa and hummus. Ones to avoid are those loaded with mayo, sour cream or cream cheese.

California Light Guacamole:

* 1 ripe medium Hass Avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
* 1/2 large ripe tomato, diced
* 1/8 Cup finely chopped red onion
* 1 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
* Juice of 1 large lime
* 1/4 tsp ground cumin
* 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
* 1/8 tsp salt

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss well maintain chunky consistency and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricots with Pistachios and Chives

20 dried apricots
4 oz chevre cheese
¼ cup chopped pistachios
1 bunch chives minced

Using your fingers, open each apricot to reveal a pouch. With a spoon, stuff cheese into each apricots. Dip cheese into chopped pistachios first then chives.

Skinny Spinach and Artichoke Dip

*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 3/4 cups onion, chopped
*2 large garlic cloves, minced
*2 tablespoons all purpose flour
*1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
*1- 10 ounce package fresh spinach leaves
*1 cup artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
*1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
*3/4 cup plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt
*1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Add oil to a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Once oil is heated add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock; bring to boil, whisking constantly. Cook until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, artichoke hearts, cheese, yogurt and cayenne (spinach will wilt). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer dip to serving bowl


Whole Wheat Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza
Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 22 minutes.

* Vegetable cooking spray
* 1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough
* 1/2 cup (1/2-inch-thick slices) Portobello mushrooms
* 1/4 cup bottled pesto
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Lightly coat a round perforated pan with vegetable cooking spray, or put a pizza stone in the oven while it preheats. Place pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll it into a 12-inch circle. Place dough on prepared pizza pan or stone, and bake for 5 minutes.

3. While the crust is baking, coat a small nonstick skillet with vegetable cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned; set aside.

4. Spread the pesto over warm crust, leaving a 1/2-inch edge. Sprinkle pepper evenly over crust, and top with mushrooms, and goat cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes or until crust is cooked through and cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with basil. Cut into 8 wedges; serve hot.

On the Side-Line

Since beer is the fourth food group of Super Bowl Sunday, there are some super light options now available that make it easy for the calorie-conscious to enjoy a few. Miller Genuine Draft 64 (aka MGD64) weighs in at 64 calories, making them some 35% fewer calories than regular light beer and significantly lower than has, well, 64 calories making it the lightest on the market. A traditional light beer is 100 calories and a regular beer is about 150 calories. MGD64 is significantly lower in calories than pretty much any alcoholic drink you can try. And, if you're watching calories steer clear of mixed drinks that can pack in as much as 400 calories in one drink.

Julie Upton Bio:

Julie Upton is a registered dietitian and communications expert specializing in nutrition, fitness and health. As a media resource for the American Dietetic Association, Upton is interviewed and quoted in over 200 articles annually, and is a frequent guest on national and local television and radio stations. She has been interviewed on the NBC Today Show, CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight and is a frequent guest on CNN, WABC and Fox.

Ms. Upton is also a nationally recognized journalist who has written thousands of articles for national newspapers, magazines and e-media including The New York Times, Prevention, Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Her articles cover nutrition for babies to boomers, weight loss and maintenance and functional foods.

Her athletic accomplishments are many: Upton is a competitive swimmer, cyclist, marathon runner and triathlete. She has completed events such as the Swim Around Manhattan Island, New York City Marathon and The Boston Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

Ms. Upton attended the University of Michigan and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from Michigan State University. She completed her dietetic internship at Harvard Medical School and holds a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University.