Classic Super Bowl food: Picking the lesser of edible evils -
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Classic Super Bowl food: Picking the lesser of edible evils

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It's one thing to resist the cheese dip on Super Bowl Sunday, but passing on pizza, pigs in a blanket and puppy chow, too? Next to impossible, unless you're the picture of self-restraint.

“It's a tradition to have a lot of food and have a big spread,” said Jill Koegel, a registered dietitian and blogger. “You don't want to be the only one not pigging out.”

The average person consumes 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat while snacking during the Super Bowl, according to the Calorie Control Council. So what's a health-conscious football fan to do?

You don't have to deprive yourself. We made a list of popular gameday fare, then asked Koegel, of Certified Nutrition of Omaha, to identify the lesser of the edible evils. Koegel, who plans to serve crockpot taco soup and guacamole with pita chips, suggested healthier alternatives, too.

“It's not hard to overeat, so people need to have a game plan and limit themselves where they can,” she said.

Now you can indulge in your favorite foods without eating yourself into a food coma.


Pigs in a blanket
Hot wings

The winner: Nachos. An average serving typically has fewer calories than five pigs in a blanket or 10 wings, and though they are all processed foods, nachos give you the most freedom to customize the dish with better-for-you fixings.

Even healthier: Replace ground beef with grilled chicken and top low-fat tortilla chips with fat-free refried beans, low-fat shredded cheese, pico de gallo, olives and guacamole. You also can have a nacho bar with each topping in an individual bowl, letting guests create their own portions. If you're set on hot wings, make them yourself using grilled chicken instead of breaded chicken to save calories.


Cheese dip
Spinach artichoke

The winner: Guacamole. The dip is full of healthy fats, potassium and antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. You can dip veggies instead of chips in guac to save even more calories.

Even healthier: Add pomegranate seeds and diced, peeled mango to your classic guacamole recipe to up the dip's nutritional value. The fruits add a touch of sweetness as well as vitamin C to boost your immune system and adds fiber that helps lower cholesterol. Though guacamole is good for you, the calories can add up quickly. Scoop two ping-pong balls worth onto your plate — that serving is between 150 and 180 calories. Hummus is another healthy alternative. Mix two cans of garbanzo beans, two tablespoons of tahini, one tablespoon of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and spices for flavor in a food processor. Cayenne pepper, onion powder and garlic powder are good options. Serve with veggies or chips.


Puppy chow
Super Bowl sundae
King Cake (a classic in New Orleans, host to the Super Bowl)

The winner: Super Bowl sundaes. It's easier to portion, which means fewer calories, and again you can control the ingredients.

Even healthier: Like nachos, you can customize your sundae by topping light ice cream (including nonfat and no-sugar options) or frozen yogurt with chopped fruit, sliced almonds, fat-free whipped cream and a sugar-free syrup. All these could be on a sundae bar. Use a small bowl and small spoons so you're not tempted to overeat. If you love puppy chow (the snack made from cereal, chocolate and powdered sugar), grab one handful and don't go back.


Mixed drink

The winner: Soda. The carbonation makes you feel full and slows your food consumption, compared to alcohol, which lowers your inhibitions and can therefore cause you to eat more. Plus, there are low-calorie and zero-calorie sodas such as Dr. Pepper 10, Diet Pepsi or Coke Zero.

Even healthier: If you're set on drinking alcohol on gameday, serve half a bottle of Michelob Ultra Light Cider in a short glass or cup, over ice, with a thin slice of green apple floating on top. You'll take in 60 calories instead of the 120 in a full bottle. Light beer is better than the full-calorie version. If you want a mixed drink, add your alcohol to diet sodas rather than regular.

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