Championship day is finally here. And just like most important days, much of this football game is devoted to the festivities, food and drinks that surround it. What defines Christmas like festive cookies? What’s a wedding without cake? If it’s Easter time, you’ve got to have those ridiculously delicious peanut butter eggs. The Big Game is no different – what says football-watching like piles of chips, platters of wings, a fridge full of choice beverages, and a luscious assortment of appetizers? Sounds dreamy, unless you happen to be trying to avoid snacks of the trans-fat, carbo/fat/cheese-laden variety. Lucky for you, we’ve got some great tips on how to make over your game time munchies that will leave you feeling lean, mean and powered up for your next big game, race, or heavy-hitting workout. And no, we’re not talking rice cakes and cabbage soup. These are real snack ideas for real food-and-football lovers.
Super Switch #1: Your own protein-powered dips for pre-made veggie dips. Have you ever taken a gander at the horrifying nutritional stats of some of the most popular produce-section vegetable dips? Many are super-high in calories, filled with unhealthy fats, and have so many un-pronounceable ingredients swimming around in their creamy texture that you’d be better off skipping the carrots altogether. You don’t have to be a kitchen whiz to create your own dip. Use your smoothie-blender for this one: throw in one cup of cottage cheese, ½ cup plain yogurt, some powdered ranch seasoning (found in little packets in the dressing isle), a tablespoon or two of milk, and give it a whirl until smooth and creamy. Kick it up with hot sauce, or stir in some salsa at the end if you’re feeling fiery.
Super Switch #2: Vegetables for tortilla chips. We’ve got two options for this one. First, celery is a surprisingly satisfying substitute for tortilla chips when you’re faced with an array of yummy-looking dips. Cut the celery in two or three-inch stalks, sprinkle with salt if you’d like, and dunk away in bowls of salsa. The second chip-switch idea takes a bit more work and time. Thinly-sliced beets, zucchini, turnips, or sweet potatoes star in this one. Slice ‘em up (super-thin. Use a mandolin if you’ve got it), sprinkle with salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then coat with a little olive oil, and line single layers on baking sheets. Baking temps and times may vary between the different veggie types, but a good rule of thumb is 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Super Switch #3: Turkey for beef in your chili, but be careful. Pay attention to the nutritional stats. Much of the ground turkey in the meat department has nearly identical saturated fat content as ground beef does. If you really want to make a nutritional difference, opt for all-white, or fat-free, ground turkey. Load up your famous chili recipe with canned beans, corn, and tomatoes, sautéed veggies, and top with avocado and cheese for a warm, comforting meal fit for the fitness guru you are.
Smart eating takes a little planning, attention and effort. It’s not as simple as blindly grabbing any attractive product off the grocery store shelves. However, knowing that you’re fueling yourself and your loved ones with quality, energizing food makes the extra effort worth it. Plus, you’ll thank yourself during your next workout, bike ride, or run. Football season might be over after this big game, but for you, it’s game on!
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