Be the MVP of Your Party with These Healthy Super Bowl Ideas

February 01, 2013

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by Lindsay Eanet

On Sunday, millions of people will gather in living rooms across America to watch the San Francisco 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl — us included. We love the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, the drama, the crazy commercials, and, of course, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl.

But the Super Bowl ranks second only to Thanksgiving in food consumption. In fact, after chowing down all those wings, pizzas and chips, Americans will consume 156 billion calories total. To work off the average intake, you’d have to run the length of a football field 109 times!

Worry not, friends – here’s how to make your Super Bowl a healthier affair without sacrificing good food, and, most importantly, fun.

The Food

Substitutions are the easiest way to make Super Bowl snacks a little bit healthier without sacrificing big flavor. Consider chicken, turkey or veggie chili instead of the usual beef. If you’re firing up the grill, make some veggie kebabs or turkey burgers. To get the smoky, sweet and spicy flavor of wings without all the fat and sodium of the store-bought stuff, toss some un-breaded white-meat tenders in the wing sauce of your choice and grill, bake or cook on the stove top. Serve with carrots, celery, colorful, crunchy peppers and a cooling yogurt-based sauce (dill and garlic are great additions, as is a squeeze of lemon) instead of the fattier Ranch dressing.

Sometimes, the answer to a healthier and tastier Super Bowl menu is a do-it-yourself approach. If you have to have chips and dip, you could make your own for a fresh, flavorful and healthy dip your guests will remember. Plus, a DIY salsa allows you to get creative — opt for a simple, fresh pico de gallo, add chillies (which contain Vitamin C and antioxidants!) to your preferred level of spice or, if you want some sweet to go with the spicy, some fruit like mango, peach or pineapple. For those who prefer store-bought salsas, many of which are lower in calories and feature all-natural ingredients, Fooducate is a great website for comparison-shopping foods based on nutritional value and finding the most nutritious options based on your budget and tastes.

The Fitness

If there will be children or families attending your party, encourage some activities! If you have a yard or spacious room, start a game of touch football before the game or during the breaks. Make it kids vs. adults for some high-energy family bonding.

Or encourage physical activity and creativity through the halftime show. Suggest they make up cheerleading routines for the 49ers and Ravens, or dance routines with halftime show music, and turn it into a (friendly) competition if you’d like. The groups can perform before or after Beyonce’s halftime performance, and your dancers will get a boost of confidence from adoring fans praising their skills.

Don’t Forget The Fun

The Super Bowl, like any big sporting event, is all about having fun. Creative, healthy snacks  and fitness activities can be great starters for lively conversation and more meaningful memories. Make it an unforgettable day of togetherness — and be the real MVP.

For another great recipe option, check out the Chicken Rancheros recipe by this year's winning Cooking up Change team!