Super Bowl 2016: Healthy eating at your Super Bowl party

This is a great time of year for football fans. The NFL playoffs are in full swing and the big game with all the parties, the Super Bowl, is less than a month away in Santa Clara, California. But what can you do to keep those health goals that you have vowed to keep with the typical Super Bowl party that is full of anything but healthy food? The simplest thing could be to not worry about it – enjoy Super Bowl 50 on February 7th, 2016 but don’t completely fall off the healthy eating wagon. I try and temper the unhealthiness by keeping the food at the Super Bowl party, somewhat in line with the healthy eating that we all try to start off every new year. This way I won’t be overcome with guilt the day after or spend the next week trying to overdo it in the gym.

I was thinking about the 2016 Super Bowl over the weekend and came up with some healthy ideas that anyone could incorporate. I wasn’t able to test all these recipes out this weekend but did enjoy the fruits of my labour while watching the two wild-card NFL playoff games on Sunday.

Must have Super Bowl tortilla chips and dip

To kickoff this Super Bowl party we need to have some tasty chips and dip. How do we make them healthy? Let’s tackle the tortilla chips first. Look for a good quality baked tortilla chips – I prefer organic baked tortilla chips. Yellow or blue corn is up to you; mix them up if you want your platter to look cool. If you can’t find the baked variety don’t fret too much…just read the labels of the various brands in your supermarket and splurge a little if needed to get the best quality organic tortilla chips.

The layered dip to go along with the chips is super easy to make. You will need salsa, guacamole, plain greek yogurt and a light cheddar cheese. Start by making the guacamole. You already know that I love the superfood avocado so having guacamole in the layered dip is a no brainer. You will need some ripe avocados, finely minced red onion, chopped cilantro, diced tomato, hot sauce, salt and lime juice. Cut the avocados in half and twist them open; remove the pit and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh in a bowl. Mash up flesh with the back of fork, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix it well. Taste and season as needed.

Super duper chips and dip
Main ingredients for the 4 layer dip

We start assembling the layered dip by putting the guacamole in a dish of your choice. Smooth it over and then add a layer of your salsa on top. Grate some light cheddar cheese and then put a thin layer of greek yogurt and finally top it with another layer of grated cheese. You can repeat by adding another layer of guacamole followed by salsa, cheese, greek yogurt, etc. if you wish. I also add like to add some sliced jalapeños at the very top as a zesty garnish. Et voila, your multi-layer dip is ready for your tortilla chips.

Caribbean chicken fingers

Chicken wings are the perennial Super Bowl party favourites but are also hard to fit into most diets. But we can bring in homemade chicken fingers using chicken breast meat to fit the bill. The key here are to make them crispy, add a lot of flavour and don’t overcook them. Start off by taking your fresh chicken breasts and cutting the meat into thin long strips and season/marinate them the night before. The key ingredient for my Caribbean chicken finger marinade is green seasoning. If you are confused about this generic sounding name, don’t be. This is a widely used seasoning from Trinidad and Tobago made with a type of cilantro (bandhaniya), celery leaf, thyme, hot peppers, garlic and other herbs. If you don’t have any Trinis within your family or circle of friends to give you some of their home made concoction, doh hot yuh head. You can find green seasoning in Caribbean grocery stores or online and it will be worthwhile because this stuff is chock full of fresh flavour goodness.

Chief green seasoning sauce
Trini green seasoning sauce

On the day of the big game, prepare the “breading” or coating for these chicken fingers. Take a handful of those tortilla chips and crush them finely (put them in a gallon sized ziplock bag and use a wine bottle or rolling pin on them). Note: you can use potato chips instead of the baked tortilla chips if they fit in your macros (IIFYM). Add in some whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika powder, onion and garlic powder to your ziplock bag. You should be able to skip an egg wash because the Caribbean marinade is pretty wet and the coating should easily stick to the seasoned meat. Add your chicken to the big ziplock bag with your crushed chips and spices and roll it around to evenly coat the chicken fingers. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake in a 375F oven for about 20-22 minutes.

Caribbean chicken fingers
Preparing the Caribbean chicken fingers..I did it without the ziplock bag this weekend

Don’t cook the chicken fingers for too long or else it will dry out the meat and you will end up with cardboard chicken. Serve these hot. You can make a sauce for them if you like but I like them as is with some honey mustard and bbq sauce on the side. Nice and spicy!

Super Bowl party beverages

I don’t mind the occasional diet pop (Coke Zero or Zevia) but I am not a fan of drinking light beer (and don’t even go down the zero alcohol, near beer path). I will probably rationalize my Super Bowl 2016 beer intake as “I’d rather skip the 3 shitty light beers and have just one really good beer“. If you are not a beer person and would still like to have some alcohol to enjoy your Super Bowl party then surely give mixed drinks or a dry wine some consideration. Vodka with club soda and a couple of lime wedges is probably one of the best alcoholic drink for dieters (in moderation). Enjoy your alcohol with the warranted discretion.

Super bowl craft beer stash
If you are going to drink beer at your Super Bowl party, go with quality over quantity

Super Bowl 2016 predictions

Seahawks looked good yesterday but the Panthers are going to be tough. Green Bay played the ideal playoff football game but can they keep it going in Arizona? Are the KC Chiefs for real and does Peyton Manning have enough left in the tank to lead the Broncos to Levi Field? We should have some exciting NFL games for the next few weeks. Got any predictions for this year’s Super Bowl match up? What do you have planned for your 2016 Super Bowl party?