Football season is in full swing, and you need look no further than grocery store displays and ads showcasing pizza, chips and dips, cheese and crackers and chicken wings to be reminded that it’s often the snacks that make or break a game.
Hockey, the sport of choice in my household, kicks off its season this week, and as baseball is sliding into the post-season, means plenty of must-watch games. No matter which sport you fancy or which teams is your favorite, one thing is clear: game-watching and snacking go hand-in-hand like a ball and a glove.
Unfortunately, most traditional game day snacks are loaded with fat, calories, and plenty of carbohydrates. Moreover, mindlessly eating them while watching a game and socializing makes it hard to keep track of just how much you have eaten. High-fat creamy dips and spreads, fried foods, and sugary treats can easily fumble the best of healthy diet game plans. In fact if you were to simply nibble away at two chicken wings and a handful of carrots with two tablespoons of bleu cheese dressing, a quarter cup of spinach dip scooped up with a handful of crackers, and two little brownie bites – you would consume 900 calories, over 55 grams of fat, and 60 grams of carbohydrate – without even eating a standard meal!
The good news is there are lots of moves you can make to win at the party snacks game. With just a little planning, you can enjoy snacks that are simple to prepare and tasty enough to please the whole crowd. Preparing a variety of healthy snack options (or offering to bring something you make) is key. Some great options are too:
- Make your own super veggie trays for the best quality and freshness. Add crunchy baby carrots, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, thick red pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and fresh sliced cucumber (a great veggie “cracker”).
- Pair veggies and high fiber or whole wheat crackers (like Wasa crackers and crisps), with salsa, bean spreads (be sure to check the carbs), and reduced fat versions of your favorite dressings.
- Substitute large bowls of light microwave popcorn for greasy chips. Sprinkle popcorn with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder or garlic salt, or even chili powder for a kick.
- Splurge with peel and eat boiled shrimp or shrimp cocktail.
- Cut reduced fat smoked turkey kielbasa into chucks and sauté. Serve on a platter with toothpicks and Dijon mustard (a higher sodium choice).
- Or try two new-game day favorites with my Winning Recipes for spicy Buffalo Chicken Bites with Bleu Cheese Dressing and creamy Classic Spinach Dip.
Marlene graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in nutrition from U.C.L.A. in 1986 and is one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association. Combining her love of food with her educational foundation, she has held such positions as Hospital Foodservice Director, Nutrition Professor, Cooking Instructor for the Columbus State Culinary Academy and as a national nutrition educator to chefs for the American Culinary Federation. Her passion for teaching others how to make healthy food taste delicious also extend to her private nutrition practice specializing in weight loss, diabetes, and wellness.
Marlene loves to teach (and to eat!); her energetic and upbeat style has made her a popular food and nutrition speaker for organizations such as the American Diabetes and American Heart Associations and sought after for television and radio appearances which have included affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and Shaw TV (Vancouver) and radio stations nationwide.