Janis G. Hunter,
Home & Garden Information Center
Are you one of the millions of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose weight? Then you must develop a game plan for snacking on Super Bowl Sunday. This event, which takes place on February 3, is one of the worst eating days of 2013. A typical party menu includes beer, soft drinks, sandwiches, pizza, wings, potato chips, nachos and cheese sauce, potato salad and other fatty foods.
Whether you’re hosting a party or preparing food to take to someone else’s party, choose snacks that are minimally processed, high in fiber and low in fat and added sugars. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (e.g. white breast meat of poultry without skin, beans and seafood) and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products.
Small plates are a mealtime tradition among many Mediterranean countries, where a heart-healthy eating plan consists primarily of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices), and olive oil and canola oil replace butter, margarine and other unhealthy fats.
Here are some advantages to downsizing from a dinner plate to a salad plate at parties and buffets.
Eat slowly and take time to enjoy the taste and textures of foods. Pay attention to how you feel. Instead of mindlessly eating hundreds—even thousands—of calories while watching the football game, use hunger and fullness cues to recognize when you’ve had enough. Before going back for seconds, wait 20 minutes for your food to “settle.” It takes that long for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full.
Although it seems messy and unappetizing, you may want to let empty beverage containers, chicken bones, etc. accumulate on the table to remind you of how much you have consumed. Researchers at Cornell University noted that people might eat and drink much more when there are no visual clues about how much they have consumed. Researchers also observed that people take less food from a smaller bowl.
Healthful snacking is part of a nutritious diet and may prevent overeating by maintaining your blood glucose levels. It starts with eating more vegetables and fruits, fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products, and smaller portions of protein and grains. Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables, and the other half should be ¼ lean protein and ¼ whole grain. To learn more, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Preparing food at home makes it easier to control what is in your snacks, but you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen. Buy a variety of pre-cut vegetables and fruits and some low-fat dips, or make your own dips using fat-free or low-fat sour cream, mayonnaise or plain yogurt. The pre-made trays usually come with regular high-fat dip. Dipping companions include healthy chips (e.g. baked, pita, sweet potato and kale), pretzels and whole grain crackers. These are good replacements for a bag of regular chips or Cheetos®, for example.
Another tasty, healthy snack is air-popped or low-fat microwave popcorn topped with seasonings or a colored sugar. But, skip the salt and butter!
Here are some snacks that you can make a day ahead of time and store covered in the refrigerator.
Choose six or seven fresh vegetables and two low-fat dips. Serve them on a variety of small dishes placed around the room to generate interest and to encourage people to eat more of them.
Hummus is a more healthful dip than a creamy, high-fat ranch dressing. Mix hummus from the grocery store with some tomato paste for a nice red color. Spoon the mixture into a small cup and surround it with a variety of fresh vegetables (e.g. grape tomatoes, celery, broccoli).
To make homemade hummus, grind these ingredients in a food processor or blender: two cans of rinsed chickpeas, a roasted red pepper, a couple of garlic cloves and lemon juice to taste.
If you are going to serve chips, choose baked, whole-grain or pita chips. Offer the chips with salsa so that more vegetables will be eaten. You can make a quick homemade salsa by blending no-salt-added canned tomatoes with a little hot pepper sauce. This salsa also is delicious with fresh veggies or warm rolled corn tortillas.
To save money, make you own baked chips. Cut flour or corn tortillas into quarters. Mist with water or cooking spray and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice (e.g. paprika, onion powder or cumin). Bake tortilla wedges in a single layer on a baking pan at 350 °F for about 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Enjoy with your favorite salsa or bean dip.
2 small flour tortillas, low in fat and sodium
4 tablespoons prepared hummus
½ cup diced tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Spread 2 tablespoons hummus on each tortilla. Sprinkle diced tomatoes at the edge. Roll the tortilla up tightly, with the tomatoes in the center. Cut in 1-inch pinwheels. Place pinwheels on a platter with the cherry tomato halves in the center. Serves 4.
You also can make pinwheels by coating flour tortillas with spreads made from black beans, feta cheese and veggies, peanut butter and fruit, etc. Use your imagination and creativity.
1 large avocado, halved and mashed*
8 ounces firm tofu
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
⅓ cup chunky salsa
Combine first 4 ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Add salsa. Serve with baked chips, fresh vegetables or Mexican dishes. Makes 2 cups.
*Avocados contain fat, but it is the heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Limit your portions, because avocados are still high in calories.
This spicy bean salsa makes a healthful, low-fat party dip.
1 cup frozen-thawed black-eyed peas
15 ounces canned black beans, drained
1 cup frozen-thawed corn kernels
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup chopped bell pepper
1 diced jalapeno pepper (optional)
14 ounces canned diced no-salt-added tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve salsa with an assortment of raw vegetables and baked chips.
Makes 10 servings. Serving size: ½ cup. Each serving contains 60 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 97 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 12 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein.
Core and slice several apples, or buy apple wedges from the grocery store if you are in a hurry. Serve on a small colorful plate surrounded by a variety of dried fruits (e.g. cranberries, blueberries, figs, and plums).
Serve fruit with cube-size amounts of low-fat cheeses instead of the full-fat versions. And, skip the crackers!
Baked, boneless chicken breast strips are a healthier alternative to chicken wings. Make your own boneless wings by dredging chicken strips in buttermilk (fat-free) and hot sauce to taste. Coat chicken strips in whole-wheat flour, to which a small amount of cornmeal has been added. Bake in the oven instead of frying. Serve with fat-free barbecue sauce.
Chill cooked shrimp and serve with a spicy cocktail sauce. One large shrimp contains about 1 gram of protein and only 5 calories. Proteins take longer to digest, which keeps you satisfied longer.
What you drink is as important as what you eat, because beverages can easily add extra calories. Here are some tips to make better beverage choices.
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