Fit Foodie: Super Bowl Success

The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers this Sunday with millions tuning in to watch. Here are tips for tackling a Super Bowl menu that won’t undo your diet.

If you’re anything like us, the Super Bowl is less about the football game and more about stuffing your face with otherwise off-limits snacks: potato chips, queso dip, pigs-in-a-blanket. Then comes the regret—and let’s face it, the nausea.

Nutrition expert and diet-book author Katherine Tallmadge is here to help. “Enjoy the Super Bowl food,” she says. “But if you’re mindful about your eating, you can leave the party without feeling bloated.”

Her tips: Position yourself away from the food to help limit mindless snacking. When you eat something, put it on a plate—rather than eating directly from the serving bowl—so you can portion what you’re eating. And when you’re talking to someone, put the food down and focus on the conversation. When it’s time pick the plate back up, focus your full attention on eating. The same goes for drinking: Have a glass of water on hand for mindless sipping, but when you want a beer or soda, really take the time to focus on it and savor it. Tallmadge calls the practice mindful eating: “The idea is to think about what’s going in your body, and if it’s a splurge like a piece of cake, you can enjoy it even more.”

One of the problems with get-togethers such as Super Bowl parties, where you graze on lots of snack foods rather than having one meal, is that it’s easy to lose track of what and how much you’ve eaten. Some Super Bowl favorites are bigtime killers: One fried chicken wing, for example, is 150 calories, and that’s before you slather it in blue-cheese dressing. “Party foods can add up to thousands of calories before you even realize it,” Tallmadge says.

Luckily, she says, it’s easy to cut calories without sacrificing taste. Here are a few of her favorite healthy party-food recipes, taken from her book Diet Simple.

Chile Non-Carne
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped (retain liquid)
1 16-ounce can kidney or black beans, whichever you prefer
½ cup water or bouillon (to hydrate the bulgur)
½ cup bulgur, a whole-wheat grain common in Middle Eastern dishes, found at Whole Foods and natural-food stores
2 seeded jalapeño peppers, chopped (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil over low heat in a large pot until soft, at least 15 minutes. Add the chili powder and simmer a few more minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, soak the bulgur in the boiling water or bouillon for 15 minutes. To the first pot, add all remaining ingredients, including the bulgur, and simmer slowly over low-to-medium heat until flavors are well blended and vegetables are cooked to the desired consistency.

Adjust seasonings to your preference. Because many canned items are used, additional salt will probably not be needed.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 320 calories, 7 grams of fat, 730 milligrams of sodium; 13 grams of fiber; 12 grams of protein.

Mexican Salsa
Makes 22 servings

1 large onion (about ½ pound)
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (use canned tomatoes if good ones aren’t available)
3 to 4 jalapeño peppers
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 1 to 2 limes

Add the onion to the tomatoes. Finely chop 2 of the jalapeños to start with. Taste. If you desire more heat, add more jalapeños. Mix in the cilantro. Add salt depending on your taste. Mix in the lime juice.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 20 calories, zero grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein.

Mild Guacamole
Makes 12 servings

2 ripe avocados
1⁄3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons of lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Cut avocados in half lengthwise and pull out the pits. Scoop out the meat. Place in a medium bowl and mash, keeping some large chunks. Mix in the cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein.

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