Line up healthy spread for Super Bowl Sunday

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Eating smart is never easy, but during the Super Bowl? It's nearly impossible.

High-calorie bar foods such as hot wings, dip and nachos typically crowd the table. You've got to pity the poor fool who's trying to stick to his (or her) New Year's resolution of eating healthier.

The latest batch of "skinny" cookbooks, however, demonstrates that you don't necessarily have to sacrifice taste to cut calories, sodium and fat out of your favorite tailgate recipes. All it takes is a willingness to bulk them up with extra veggies, trade fried chips for baked, and make other clever swaps, such as nonfat yogurt for sour cream or ground turkey breast for ground beef.

Of course you also need to play close attention to portion size, but with these new recipes, you get more bang for the buck in one serving.

"Skinny Chef" Jennifer Iserloh's recipe for hot wings, for example, uses boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders instead of fatty chicken wings, and a zesty sauce built around beef broth and Tabasco instead of butter. Four grilled or broiled skewers drizzled with sauce are just 300 calories, or about half the calories of 10 hot wings from Pizza Hut.

"In a nutshell, it all boils down to this," writes Ms. Iserloh, who grew up on Neville Island and is author of the forthcoming "Secrets of a Skinny Chef" (Rodale, March 2010, $19.99). "Use healthy recipes, make small, manageable changes; and cook at home for yourself as much as possible."

Nachos Grande with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa

PG tested

Nachos don't come with the tag "grande" without a reason. This recipe substitutes low-fat ground turkey and black beans but still explodes with festive Mexican flavors. The pickled jalapeno salsa is terrific -- and your guests will never know they're getting their veggies. I doubled the amount of avocado.

  • 1 large carrot, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/2 small head of broccoli (about 1/2 pound)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small hot chile pepper, such as jalapeno or serrano, cut into thirds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning without MSG
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 15-ounce can low-sodium beans, such as black or kidney
  • 2 cups whole grain tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • For the salsa
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • 1/2 ripe Haas avocado, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large, sided baking pan with a piece of aluminum foil. Set aside.

Place carrot, broccoli, garlic and chile in a food processor. Pulse 5 to 6 times, until the veggies are chopped. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, chopped veggies and turkey. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Add the taco seasoning and star anise. Cook 4 to 5 additional minutes, continuing to break up the turkey meat. Add the broth and beans and reduce the heat to medium low. SImmer 5 to 10 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

Spread the tortilla chips on the baking tray. Spoon the meat mixture over the chips and dot with sour cream. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the chips start to brown around the edges.

Meanwhile, place the spinach, avocado, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, lime zest and juice, garlic and salt in a food processor. Pulse until a chunky salsa forms. Serve immediately with the nachos.

Serves 6.

-- "Secrets of a Skinny Chef" by Jennifer Iserloh (March 2010, Rodale, $19.99)


Hot "Wings" with Spicy Sauce

PG tested

One medium deep-fried Buffalo wing can have as many as 80 calories, and nobody eats just one. Plus, those are greasy. These skinless tenders are a sensible alternative. If you like your sauce "atomic" hot, add more cayenne or Tabasco.

  • 5-ounce can reduced-sodium, fat-free beef broth
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce, like Tabasco (I used a combination of Frank's Red Hot and Tabasco)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch-thick tenders
  • 24 12-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 6 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into thirds

First, prepare the dipping sauce: In a small saucepan, stir together the beef broth, hot sauce, tomato paste, butter and cayenne, if using. Bring to a slow simmer and cook 20 to 25 minutes, until the mixture reduces to about 1 cup. Meanwhile, thread the chicken onto the skewers. Heat a grill to high heat and cook the skewers 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through. If the weather keeps you from firing up the grill, you can broil the chicken instead; just be sure to cover the ends of the skewers with foil so they don't burn.

To serve: Drizzle the sauce over the skewers and serve extra sauce on the side with celery.

Makes 6 servings.

-- "Secrets of a Skinny Chef"


Guilt-free Artichoke and Spinach Dip

PG tested

Traditional hot artichoke dip can contain as much as a cup of mayonnaise (a whopping 1,650 calories) and a cup of parmesan cheese (almost 500 calories). This lighter cold version lets you "indulge and still feel great," writes "The Skinnygirl Dish" author Bethenny Frankel. I boosted the flavor with an additional clove of garlic and the juice of an entire lemon.

  • 9-ounce package frozen artichokes, defrosted and drained
  • 9-ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat or soy cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons nondairy or low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all of the ingredients except 2 tablespoons of the parmesan in a large bowl or food processor. Blend or pulse until mostly smooth, but leave some artichoke chunks for texture. Serve with thin slices of baguette, raw vegetables, baked tortilla chips or crackers

If you prefer a hot dip, pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish or casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through and just starting to bubble. Let the dip sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

-- "The Skinnygirl Dish" by Bethenny Frankel (Simon and Schuster, $16)

Seven-Layer Dip

Sour cream dips are classic party fare. The calories, however, pretty quickly add up. A healthier option is a seven-layer bean dip. This recipe substitutes black bean soup for refried beans, and nonfat yogurt for sour cream. It has 236 calories per serving.

  • 15-ounce can black bean soup, preferably Goya
  • 2 avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • 5 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 can roasted chopped green chiles, drained
  • 2.25-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 2 cups fresh salsa
  • 2/3 cup shredded low-fat Mexican 4-cheese blend or Cheddar cheese
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Low-fat baked tortilla chips
  • Jicama sticks, if desired

Spread the soup over the bottom of a 8-by-8-inch baking dish with a rubber spatula. In a bowl, mash the avocados with the lime juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Spread over the soup with a spatula.

In the same bowl, stir together the yogurt, sour cream, chile powder and a pinch of salt; spread over the avocado. Spread with the chopped chiles. Sprinkle with the olives. Spread with the salsa. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Preheat broiler and arrange the oven rack about 4 inches from the heat. Broil to melt the cheese, 2 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and the scallions. Serve with baked tortilla chips and jicama sticks.

Serves 8.

-- "Cook Yourself Thin Faster" with Lauren Deen (Hyperion, $19.99)

Fudgy Brownies

PG tested

No Super Bowl party is complete without something sweet. These chocolate brownies are (almost) guilt free, with only about half the calories (110) of a regular brownie and one-third the fat. The problem will be limiting yourself to just eating one.

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil "sling" (two sheets laid perpendicular to one another), lightly coat the foil with vegetable oil spray and set aside.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter together in a large bowl in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Whisk the sugar, sour cream, chocolate syrup, egg, egg white and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, in 3 additions, until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan against the counter several times to settle the batter. Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil, cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Makes 16 brownies.

-- "Light & Healthy 2010" (America's Test Kitchen, Jan. 2010, $35)


Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1419.


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