THE BLOG

Super Bowl Food Fight! Nachos vs. Wings

02/03/2014 02:00 EST | Updated 03/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Co-authored by Jill Parnell

Between a seemingly-unstoppable Broncos offensive line, the threat of Super Bowl Monday, and an epic "Cheesepocalypse" looming, it's shaping up to be in interesting Super Bowl... in terms of the game and sideline snacks.

This Food Fight! is a clash between two game day favourites: hot wings and cheesy nachos. Who will raise the Vince Lombardi trophy in this Super Bowl showdown?

We are pitting these dishes mano a mano in their most traditional forms. The classic hot wings are flour-coated, deep-fried and tossed with melted butter and hot sauce, served with bleu cheese dressing and celery. The nachos are simply corn tortilla chips with melted cheese, and salsa, sour cream and guacamole for dipping/scooping.

Nachos   VS* Hot Wings

1940s Mexico-Texas border Origin  1960s Buffalo, NY
 580 kcal Calories  982 kcal
40.5 g Total Fat  81.6 g
16.7 g Saturated Fat  28.6 g
21.4 g Protein  50.8 g
36.1 g Carbohydrate  5.9 g
6.7 g Fibre  0.6 g
1,054 mg Sodium  1,216 mg

No Baloney's results? This one was a blow-out! The overwhelming win goes to nachos with 40% fewer calories and half the fat of hot wings. Sure, nachos have a lot more carbohydrates and about half of the protein BUT 75% of the calories in the hot wings - or about 730 kcal - come from fat! And the serving size we used was only 6 hot wings...

How can you avoid overindulging? One strategy is to control portions with physical cues like your dishware. When presented with an all-you-can-eat buffet of quesadillas and chicken wings, those randomized to "meal cues" like full-sized plates, glassware and utensils ate about 30% more than those using "snack cues" like paper plates and no utensils (1). Set yourself up for success by using small plates and serving out of smaller bowls - you are better off having to refresh the supply in several smaller bowls than using one giant one. You could save yourself 150 calories! (2)

How to make your nachos a bit healthier:

  • Use real cheese. Cut the sodium in half and save yourself the sketchy food additives (see our Blinded by Science post) by foregoing the molten orange faux-cheese. Mozzarella and monterey jack are lower in calories though a stronger flavoured cheese, like aged cheddar, can go a long way and be used more sparingly.

  • Watch the dips! Ix-nay the sour cream in favour of low-calorie, antioxidant-loaded salsa. While avocados are a fantastic source of healthy fats, they also pack quite the calorie-wallop. If you are a guac-o-holic, opt for an avocado salsa.

  • Add some protein. Top nachos with black or pinto beans, cooked ground turkey or chicken to up the satiety factor with protein. You'll eat less and still feel satisfied.

  • Go reduced fat.Usually we poo-poo low-fat foods because they tend to have a lot of additives, sugar, etc., to compensate. But in the case of cheeses, a "light" or "reduced fat" version of your favourite cheese simply uses partially skimmed milk; no crazy additives. You will never be able to tell the difference but you'll save 30% the calories. We suggest avoiding anything less than 10% milk fat (M.F.) - no taste and doesn't really melt = highly suspicious!

  • Read the nutrition label. Not all tortilla chips are created equal. You may boost fibre, but read the label carefully on those multigrain chips - they might have MORE calories than the regular. Baked chips are typically the healthiest choice with lower fat and calories. For flavour, we really like corn tortilla chips, especially blue corn...

  • Don't forget the veggies! Think sauteed onions and peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and jalapenos to fill up on added fibre.

How to make your chicken wings a bit healthier:

  • Go skinless. A 6 wing portion of baked, skinless wings has 360 fewer calories than the fried versions with skin. Thinking baking is the answer? Baking regular wings only saves you a measly 24 calories per serving when compared to frying. It's the skin that is packed with fat and calories - about 60 calories per wing.

  • Opt for drumsticks. Skinless wings can be tough to find and labour-intensive, so opting for drumsticks can be a great choice. Chicken drumsticks are 40% bigger (with 25% more protein) yet virtually identical in terms of calories and lower in total fat.

  • Choose lower-fat sauces. Tossing your wings with buttery hot sauce may be delicious, but skipping the butter could save you upwards of 200 calories. For healthier hot wings, just toss with hot sauce, a spicy tomato-based sauce, a Jamaican jerk rub, or ginger-soy glaze.

  • Skip the mess - dip it. Try a Buffalo chicken dip instead of wings - all the best flavours, none of the mess! Dip with celery or carrots sticks to get in your veggies.

Regardless of whether you are a Seattle or Denver fan, try not to sweat it too much if your team loses. Super Bowl losses among hardcore fans have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and even death! (3)

*Nutrition information from the Canadian Nutrient FileNACHOS - "35 g Snacks, tortilla chips, plain, yellow corn " (~15 chips), "28 g cheddar cheese, shredded", "28 g monterey cheese, shredded", "60 ml sauce, salsa, ready-to-serve", "60 ml cream, sour, cultured, 14% M.F." and 60 ml Wholly Guacamole classic, because guacamole is not in CNF or USDA databases! WINGS - "6 chicken, wing, meat and skin, flour coated, fried", "2 tbsp butter, unsalted", "2 tbsp sauce, pepper or hot, ready-to-serve", "2 tbsp salad dressing, blue cheese, commercial, regular" and "4-10 cm strips, celery, raw"