Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Healthier Options for Your Cowboys/Giants Noshing Pleasure

For some, you know who you are, the best part of tonight's Cowboys/Giants season opener is the festivities surrounding the game.  I'm not talking the "Glory Hole" vs the "Beat the Giants ass!" smack.  I'm talking about the revelry: the parties, the food and cocktails.

Unfortunately, one snack-filled night of football can be a diet killer.  I watch games for a living.  The mindless munching can wreck havoc on your body and leave you bloated, backed up and regretting what you ate.  The good thing is there are some great alternatives and ways you can enjoy all those wonderful snacks without consuming a day's worth of calories, fat, sodium and sugar.

Here are few tips for your football party pleasure:

Cut the Cheese with Veggies
Have your favorite queso but just a tablespoon or two.  Instead of chips, dip some broccoli and cauliflower in the queso.  It's outstanding.  The vegetables provide the crunch that chips would while satiating your cheese fix.

Salsa Salsa Salsa
Not salsa of the Victor Cruz touchdown celebration variety but of the chunky condiment kind.  Salsa is the perfect choice for almost everything.  I use it as a salad dressing, a topping for baked potatoes, a dip for vegetables.  Use a low sodium, all natural version.  There are a ton from which to choose.  Serve the salsa with baked tortilla chips, vegetables, pretzels, whatever you like.  


Red Bell Pepper and Hummus 
This is one of my favorite snacks.  I frequently serve it as an hors d'oeuvre  Simply slice some red bell peppers and pair with your favorite hummus.  Any other crudite vegetables like carrots, cucumbers and celery are good, too  There are so many hummus options: garlic, jalapeno, olive.  It's delicious.  Don't use lowfat hummus, though.  I made the mistake of picking up a container of that once at Whole Foods.  It's terrible.  Hummus is full of healthy fat.  Enjoy it.

Grill it Good
The weather is still perfect for grilling.  Choose healthier options like chicken, salmon, lean red meat and veggies.  Opt for a low-sugar BBQ sauce.  Our summer grill go-to was corn.  It's outstanding in stores right now.  Just throw in on the grill, husk and all about five minutes per side until the husk is charred.  You don't need butter or seasoning, it's perfect just the way it is.

Popcorn
Oily, salty popcorn is a press box staple.  It's everywhere and you will see a slew of reporters, including yours truly, with greasy fingers in locker rooms after games.  So gross.  Pop some all-natural Newman's Own popcorn.  Flavor it with your favorite grill rub seasoning.  It's a great snacky item.

Dessert
No one wants a big, fussy dessert during games.  By the time folks are ready for dessert, they're usually full from snacking and the game is coming to a close.  Usually tiny snack bites are best.  Think small candies like mini Reese's peanut butter cups, Peanut M&M's or Lifesaver Mints.  I have fallen in love with Unreal candy that doesn't have any artificial ingredients or coloring.  It's expensive but if you're vigilant about that stuff, this is a great choice.  If you're in the mood to bring something to a party,  little brownie bites are perfect.  You can get them anywhere.

Cocktail Hour or Three
Football games are about three hours long, so aim for a cocktail an hour, no more.  Think one before the game that lasts midway through the second quarter.  Have another at the start of halftime and your final midway through the third.  Drink a big glass of water or other non-alcoholic beverage in between in each cocktail.  I prefer wine simply because it's a slow-consuming drink.  If you like beer, go for the light version.  If you're a margarita or mojito girl, go skinny (agave nectar or stevia to sweeten).  If you're making fruity drinks that call for juices, opt for lower calorie choices: Tropicana's Trop 50 orange juice, Diet Ocean Spray Juice Drink.  The alcohol will mask the "diet" flavor and you'll save extraneous calories.

You certainly don't have to cut caloric corners everywhere.  Make a swap or two that works for you so you don't blow your diet budget with choices you'll regret in the morning.
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