TORONTO - Super Bowl celebrations don't have to mean an evening of gluttony resulting in a "food hangover" the next day, the result of consuming too much fat, sugar or salt.
Rose Reisman, a registered nutritional consultant based in Toronto, has some ideas on which foods to minimize during your football-watching soiree.
If you're planning to dine out or order in, she has plenty of tips for helping make smarter choices in her book "Rose Reisman's Choose It and Lose It" (Whitecap Books, 2012).
The main reason she wrote the book — her 17th — "is because I watch the obesity epidemic." She was part of a panel convened by Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews that just handed in a proposal on how to reduce obesity in kids. Reisman is also an adjunct professor at York University's department of health.
"I realized this is a real problem. And the problem is that you can't tell people not to eat out because our lifestyle is such that people don't have the time to be preparing food at home, so I stopped barking up that tree and I said, 'You know what? It's like the old line — if you can't beat them join them.'"
Reisman says fast food is a reality of our busy lives. But in her book she explains how to make informed decisions about "better-for-you" options at more than 60 fast-food restaurants, coffee shops and restaurant chains. She lays out which menu items to avoid, which to indulge in and explains why one choice may be better than another.
"You can still have everything you want — just the better choice, is all," Reisman explained in a telephone interview.
If you're hosting a gathering to watch this Sunday's big game in New Orleans, you can control the calories, fat, sugar and sodium in homemade food and offer healthy choices in takeout or prepared items.
"People feel obligated at Super Bowl or big parties to bring the most fattening, disgusting foods ever and you can really try to make up some fabulous foods," said Reisman. "You can take a flank steak and drizzle on a teriyaki sauce and serve it as a main course and it's way better for you than the deep-fried wings."
Many football fans think the day wouldn't be complete without wings. Opt for a barbecued version rather than breaded and deep-fried, which adds more calories and fat.
Reisman suggests a sandwich buffet with a variety of rolls, roasted turkey, meatballs and lots of veggies. "Let people make their own rolls up. That's always fun for people to do."
Most guests will enjoy a bowl of hearty chili. Make it with lean turkey or chicken or extra-lean beef.
"It's really shocking the difference when you have a medium-ground beef versus lean or extra lean," said Reisman. "You can jazz it up by adding a little extra cheese at the end, a little low-fat sour cream, some avocado. You won't notice the missing fat in the beef if you choose a leaner cut. Also you'll see when you're serving your chili an inch of oil on the top if you're serving a fatty meat."
A lot of people can't tell the difference between ground beef and ground soy, which doesn't contain saturated fat, an unhealthy fat that's naturally found in foods from animals such as fatty cuts of meat, poultry with the skin on and higher-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, according to the EatRight Ontario website.
"The foods you want to minimize are piggies in a blanket, anything that's made with puff pastry — that's usually a form of lard. Little hotdogs — it's really not even made of real meat," Reisman noted.
Salami is not only high in fat but contains nitrates, a type of preservative.
Ranch or cheese-based dips are a killer in calories, Reisman said. Instead, put out hummus, salsa or a light salad dressing with crudites and baked rather than fried chips.
Learn the lingo on menus.
"When you see lightly breaded, that always means deep-fried. When you see the words creamy, puree, ask whether it has butter or cream in it," she said. "Lightly sauteed" also usually means deep-fried.
Reisman found when researching the book that much of the online information can be deceiving and some websites are easier to decipher than others.
"They won't tell you they're not counting the sides or the salad dressing or the roll, so people will eat that meal in a restaurant and have no clue that those extra things aren't what the calories are showing or the fat."
The real shocker, she found, was salads. "We were all led to believe, 'Have salads and you'll be healthier.'"
But the moment a "crispy something" or cheese or eggs are added, that raises the unhealthy quotient.
"The other thing I learned: you never allow them to control your dressing," Reisman said. Always ask for it on the side so that you can moderate how much you use.
A main-meal salad such as romaine lettuce with vegetables, chicken and croutons can have up to 75 millilitres (1/3 cup) of dressing.
"When it's a caesar-type dressing most of that is all fat. You're putting 600 or 700 calories away of nothing food and that's one of the reasons you're having trouble with your weight."
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Rich Dips With Lots Of Flavor And Little Fat
No Super Bowl party is complete without a creamy dip. But, heavy cheese or sour cream don't need to be your dip's base. Some lighter options: "I try to choose healthier dips -- like hummus, roasted eggplant spread, salsa, and guacamole -- rather than the sour-cream and cheese-based dips. And of course, tons of crunchy, colorful vegetables to go with them." --<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-reinagel-ms-ldn-cns/"> Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS </a> "Hummus, herbed Greek yogurt dip, guacamole and salsa with baked corn chips and flax crackers." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Rochelle Sirota, MS, RD</a> "I like to have a mix of healthy and fun (a.k.a decadent) foods so that you can enjoy 'Super Bowl foo'" without the 4,000 calories. Dips like spinach and artichoke -- or my favorite <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/spicy-pepper-goat-cheese-spread">spicy pepper goat cheese spread</a> with slices of baguette." -- Emily Dingmann, Nutritionist, from <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/">A Nutritionist Eats</a> "Instead of a high fat dip, I make mine with two percent Greek yogurt, which is already thick and creamy. I add in fresh herbs and spices like dill, garlic, and lemon juice. Of course, serving dips like black bean dip, salsa and guacamole is an easy way to get more nutrients. Just make sure your "chips" are made with a few simple ingredients and get whole grain tortilla chips if you can." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD</a> "Enjoy the guacamole, which is made from heart-healthy avocados. Try to swap the tortilla chips for a few whole-grain crackers." -- <a href="http://www.drwayneandersen.com/">Dr. Wayne Andersen, Co-Founder of Take Shape for Life</a>
Adding a variety of nuts to your spread is an effortless way to incorporate some healthy and filling fats to the menu. And to add a bit of portion control, the experts lean toward nuts with shells: "For an informal party like the superbowl, I like to put out bowls of peanuts in the shells. They're less salty than mixed nuts and, more importantly, having to shell the nuts slows you down a bit and helps keep you from overeating. (Fair warning: they are a bit messy! Count on vacuuming when it's all over.)" --<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-reinagel-ms-ldn-cns/"> Reinagel </a> "I serve pistachios. Not only are they delicious, but they have the shell that helps to slow down how fast people can eat them. The serving is generous -- 49 kernels, compared to other nuts, like cashews, that have only 11 [per serving]. They are a good source of protein and the 'good' fats which help increase satiety and satisfaction which may help keep a person from over-indulging." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> And for a little sweetness: "Cacao dusted almonds." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a>
Don't Get Delivery...
Make it in your kitchen. While you might be tempted to order in a few pies from your local pizzeria, making pizza at home can be a much healthier, but still delicious option, since you control the ingredients. Check out Blatner's BBQ Pita Pizza recipe above or, if you're getting down to the wire, pick a frozen option: "If you’re crunched for time or just not in the mood to cook, a healthy pizza can still be part of your Super Bowl menu. The frozen food section in the grocery store can be overwhelming. Too much sodium, too much sugar and too good to be true typically come to mind. I’m going to make it easy for you this year. When my clients have a pizza craving, I tell them to keep a Kashi Thin Crust Pizza BBQ Recipe Chicken in their freezer. It’s packed with whole grains, fiber and protein, which will help you feel full faster. It will be the hit of the party!" -- Heather Bauer, RD, founder of <a href="http://www.bestowed.com/">Bestowed.com</a>
Crunch On Some Crudités
Perfect to pair with (healthful!) dips, or just for munching on their own. "Raw veggies for munching and bulking up your plate: Carrots, cucumber, bell pepper strips, grape tomatoes and celery sticks (with a low-calorie greek yogurt dip perhaps)." -- Dingmann "Tri-color peppers with roasted pepper hummus -- full of color and fiber!" -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, LDN, CDE</a> "Of course, I'll serve a smattering of colorful raw vegetables like baby carrots, cucumber, peppers, and celery. I make my own "platter" to control the quality of each ingredient." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a>
It's All About The Shrimp
The players on the field aren't the only ones who benefit from filling up on lean protein: You and your party guests will want shrimp's low-fat power for extra energy during (what we're hoping will be) the exhilarating half-time show. "Shrimp cocktail is another great option. High protein, low fat and people like it." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "Steamed shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce -- the Super Bowl can be tempting with endless wings, but try to reach for more veggies and lean protein choices." -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Ginn-Meadow</a> Or as <a href="<a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a> recommends, try grilling some wild shrimp for a different flavor and the same appealing nutritional profile.
Choose A More Colorful Chili
One nutritionist dubbed chili "a classic football party food," and we'd have to agree: It's a pretty simple dish that can feed dozens of hungry guests. And depending on how you prepare it, the dish can be a nutritionist's dream food: "I always make a big batch of chili -- it's a classic football party food but it's actually loaded with fiber, protein and vegetables. (Shh! Don't tell anyone.)" -- Reinagel "Typically I have a big pot of chili on the stove simmering. Depending on who's attending the party, it may be veggie chili or I may add ground turkey breast or ground round. I've used venison before from a hunter friend who preps and stores his own meat. Toppings include sliced green onions, reduced fat sour cream, shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese and Fritos (love the crunch)." -- <a href="http://www.susanmitchell.org/">Susan Mitchell, Ph.D., RD, LD/N, FAND</a> "Three-bean chili with mini corn muffins. -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Ginn-Meadow</a>
Remake Sides For The Snack Happy
Cheese doodles and pretzel rods might just be snacks of the past. Our nutritionists are serving tasty snacks that have a nutritional purpose, and they won't leave a neon-orange residue on your fingers. "Kale chips, black olives, grilled and roasted vegetables, popcorn, boiled eggs, and vegetarian sushi rolls filled with brown rice, avocado, cucmber and carrots." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a> "Make sure your "chips" are made with a few simple ingredients and get whole grain tortilla chips if you can. -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "Fruit with Greek yogurt dip." -- <a href="http://www.sarahremmer.com/">Sarah Remmer, RD</a>
Sliders And Minis
You can still serve everyones favorite meat-centric dishes: these experts suggest keeping portions small -- think sliders -- to provide the tastes everyone craves without going overboard on calories. "These menu items lend themselves to being prepared ahead. Think bite-size nibbles, kabobs, plump shrimp, tiny sandwiches. The added bonus is that finger foods are less messy and will minimize clean-up time the next day. (And If you’re bringing the appetizer, your hostess will thank you for it, because it minimizes her need for extra plates or silverware.) If it can’t be consumed with one hand, rethink it." -- <a href="www.cherylforberg.com">Forberg</a> Some more ideas from our experts: "I'm serving BBQ pulled pork sliders made with pork tenderloin, so they will be low in fat and the sliders will help keep portion sizes in check." -- <a href="http://appleadaynutrition.net/blog/">Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN</a> "As a main course, I'll serve sliders made with ground lamb. On average, lamb is lean and nutrient rich. Lamb is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals to help fill up your guests. Lamb is full of flavor and will help make the party memorable. The slider size helps people cut back on their portions. I'll leave off the cheese and instead serve toppers of salsa and avocados or guacamole." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "My ideal Super Bowl menu would have a protein component like turkey meatballs, grilled chicken drumsticks or chicken sausage pieces with toothpicks." -- <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/">Dingmann</a> "Mini turkey burgers topped with wilted spinach and caramelized onions." -- <a href="http://www.realtalkrealfood.com/">Ginn-Meadow</a>
While beer commercials might try to sway you otherwise, remember that you don't want to drink all of your calories (plus, it's a Sunday. Do you <em>really</em> want to go to work with a hangover?) Our experts suggest some festive concoctions that will keep you hydrated: "I'm serving rooibos & mint herbal iced teas and sparkling water with lemon, lime and orange wedges." -- <a href="http://www.rocnutrition.com/">Sirota</a></blockquote> Or try <a href="http://dawnjacksonblatner.com/">Blatner's</a> New Orleans Hurricane Cocktail (see recipe, above).
You don't have to serve that store-bought football-shaped monstrosity of a cake to cater to your guests' sweet tooth. "<a href="http://pinterest.com/pin/112238215684137801/">These chocolate clusters</a> are always a hit…easy to make and portable." -- <a href="http://www.susanmitchell.org/">Susan Mitchell, Ph.D., RD, LD/N, FAND</a> "For a sweet treat, I'm making brownies filled with antioxidant-rich cocoa powder, cut into small squares. Put a dab of green frosting on top and a brown peanut M&M as a football with a squirt of white frosting for laces!" -- <a href="http://appleadaynutrition.net/blog/">Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN</a></blockquote> "For dessert, I'll serve fruit skewers with strawberries and blueberries and bite size pieces of brownies." -- <a href="http://rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com/">Scritchfield</a> "Fruit kabobs." -- <a href="http://appleadaynutrition.net/blog/">Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN</a>
Healthy Super Bowl French Onion Dip Recipe
Learn how to make a healthy French onion dip for the Super Bowl.