Football is back!

It is a time for sharing the sweet taste of success… or a bitter mouthful of defeat.

Whichever team you are rooting for, you will likely be in front of an HDTV watching every searing minute of each heart-pounding quarter. Even more, you will probably snack through the whole thing.

But, this is no time to sacrifice your precious health as you play armchair quarterback or taunt your competition with smack-talk about your fantasy team…

Today, I would like to give you some friendly advice on how to enjoy the game with snacks that are healthy and just as satisfying as the fatty foods that have become synonymous with game day.

So, the only thing to feel bad about is if your team can’t bring home the “W.”

Let’s Start With Beer!

What is better than enjoying the big game with an ice-cold brew? Enjoying that same game with an ice-cold non-alcoholic brew! That’s right!

Non-alcoholic beer is called near beer, or NA, and can be a valuable addition to your game day feast.

See, you can drink NA brew without any fear of drunkenness. Plus, they are lower in calories and much easier on the waistline.

Some NAs are quite satisfying. If you prefer a heartier brew, go for Beck’s NA or St. Pauli Girl. If you enjoy Budweiser, Busch has an NA that is outstanding with a familiar, crisp taste that doesn’t fill you up.

On to the food…

Red Zone Snacks That Help You Win The Health Game

If you love your chips and dips, try substituting the greasy, crumbly potato chips with delicious alternatives. Here is a comparative nutritional breakdown (based on 1-ounce serving):

  • Basic potato chips: 150 calories, 10g of fat, 180mg of sodium, 15g of carbohydrates
  • Yellow corn tortilla chips: 138 calories, 6.6g of fat, 119mg of sodium, 18.6g of carbohydrates
  • White corn tortilla chips: 140 calories, 6g of fat, 115mg of sodium, 19g of carbohydrates
  • Whole-grain French onion pita chips: 100 calories, 3g of fat, 160mg of sodium, 16g of carbohydrates

Clearly, pita chips are the best choice for healthy game day snacking. Try them with hummus, babaganoush or a light, spinach artichoke dip.

If you must eat potato chips, be sure to read the nutritional information because some are much better than others. Watch your dips, too, as most are loaded with fat, calories and sodium.

Enough With The Kiddy Food…Bring On The Good Stuff!

There is no reason to throw healthy eating habits to the wind here. You have a long season of party food ahead. Don’t forget the holidays are in there, too!

Got Chili?

Chili is a great football dish no matter what kind of weather. If you are wondering how to eat it and still be healthy, then I have some great news. Even though turkey has been all the buzz as a healthier alternative to red meat, you can still enjoy a steaming bowl of ground beef chili and maintain your healthful dignity.

Here is the fact: 90/10 (that is 90% lean with 10% fat) ground beef is neck-in-neck with ground turkey for nutritional value. In fact, it is lower in calorie per serving:

  • 90/10 ground beef, 4ounce serving = 197 calories, 22.4g fat, 4.5g in saturated fat
  • Butterball ground turkey, 4 ounce serving = 230 calories, 17g fat, 5g in saturated fat

So, really, it comes down to whichever you prefer. The turkey will have a milder flavor, but contrary to popular belief, it is not necessarily healthier.

The Platters

A great way to serve food during a game is to prepare platters before kick-off. That way, you won’t miss a single play because you are fumbling (pun intended) in the kitchen.

Kielbasa or sausage platter
Skin = Fat. So, take lower sodium sausage or kielbasa and skin it. The easiest way to skin it is to cook it first. Then, grill or pan-fry when it is done, snip an end and peel the skin away. Cut it up into bite-sized chunks and arrange on a platter with low-fat cheeses, whole grain crackers and assorted vegetables.

Chicken wings
Take fresh, chicken wing sections and grill or bake, but do not bread or fry them! Serve with low sodium wing sauces, low-fat blue cheese and ranch dressing. Add plenty of fibrous celery to help the digestion process.

Grill up some shrimp skewers with whole baby mushrooms, peppers, onions, yellow squash and zucchini. Spray the shrimp with non-stick cooking spray or marinate them in an olive-oil based low-fat dressing and throw them on the grill. Also, you can do the same thing with grouper fingers (filet pieces sliced into finger-like sections) or any other fleshy fish that will not fall apart. This is a terrific alternative to fatty burgers and steaks. A typical ¼ pound cheeseburger can clock in at around 552 calories with 29g of fat, while a 20 ounce steak will pin 1,540 calories and 124g of fat to your body!

As for salads, try using low-fat or fat-free dressings instead of mayo in your favorite coleslaw, macaroni or potato salad recipes.

You do not have to sacrifice flavor by eating boring “health” food this football season. In fact, you will probably enjoy the food even more because you won’t feel the guilt that comes with eating a myriad of fatty, greasy, high-calorie foods.

Being good to your body this football season ensures that even if your team loses, you will always end up a winner.

Today, I will be watching the Detroit Lions take on the Chicago Bears while enjoying some backed chicken wings and a St. Pauli Girl NA.

Until next time…