It may be an oxymoron, but I am planning a healthier Super Bowl party. I won’t serve tofu, broccoli or any other healthful yet plain foods, but I don’t want to compromise my healthy habits.
Here are some of the things I am banning, and substituting, for the party:
Processed meats: Foods such as commercial bratwursts, hot dogs and cocktail sausages, are full of synthetic preservatives that I am not comfortable eating. Instead, my husband will spend the morning slow-cooking ribs…and if I can convince him, making his own BBQ sauce, as most commercial ones have high fructose corn syrup.
Buffalo wings: This party staple is deep-fried and full of trans fats. It is a shame that most people don’t know how easy it is to make buffalo chicken wings without the added fats. You can coat the wings with a little bit of flour, and pan fry them with butter or olive oil. Once they are cooked through, you can add hot sauce to taste, (the all-natural kind, please) and a little butter. Coat well. Serve with celery, and buy 100 percent natural blue cheese dressing.
Chips and Dip: So many calories are consumed just by dunking your fried tortilla chips into creamy, processed cheese dips.
Instead of chips, buy whole wheat pita bread. Cut it into triangles and toast under the broiler until browned. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil for flavor before serving. If you can’t live without chips, many companies sell organic, 100 percent natural chips.
Instead of spinach dip, serve salsa and guacamole. You can choose from many 100 percent natural salsas, and guacamole is easy to make: Mash avocados, mix with diced tomatoes, chopped onions, cilantro, salt and drizzle with lime juice for flavor (and to prevent it from browning). You can also follow this recipe.
Popcorn is a great snack, but unfortunately most people buy the microwavable kind, which doesn’t taste very good and has preservatives and artificial flavorings. To pop healthier corn, you only need a big pot with a lid, vegetable oil and organic popping corn.
Pour about a tablespoon of oil into the pot, and put it over medium-high heat. Pour corn kernels to cover the bottom in one layer. Cover and shake every couple of minutes. The kernels will start popping slowly, then faster and then slow again. This is your cue to know that the popcorn is ready. Top with olive oil, salt and grated parmesan for a healthy gourmet version, or melt butter and pour it over the corn with some salt for a traditional flavor.
Most people love brownies, and making them from scratch is quick and easy. Brownies are not healthy, but if you make them yourself you’ll skip preservatives, colors and other unnecessary ingredients.
You can prepare the ribs, brownies, pita chips and popcorn ahead of time. You can cook the chicken ahead and then coat them with the hot sauce while you reheat it in a sauté pan so you can serve it warm. Guacamole is best served fresh.
These simple changes won’t make your party diet-friendly, but you will eat some healthy foods and skip all of the preservatives, sodium and fats that go into boxed, processed and fast foods.
Have a wonderful Super Bowl—for me it is all about the food.
Olivia Blanco Mullins is a journalist and has been eating healthy most of her life, as her parents have owned health food stores for more than 20 years. Currently she lives in Manhattan, Kansas, where her husband owns an Italian restaurant .
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