Employee & Community Health

Game on! Healthy snacks for the big event

1/8/2018 by Rose Prissel, MS, RDN, LD

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From the Super Bowl to Winter Olympics to Stanley Cup to March Madness, gathering with friends to watch the games calls for snacks. Here’s how to add some tasty choices to the buffet without adding extra calories. Come spring, your shorts and tank tops will thank you.

Skinny down recipes.

  • Most dips and spreads can be made with their low or nonfat counterparts such as sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and mayo.
  • Use oil-based rather than creamy dressings and sauces — and using sparingly. Serve dressings on the side.
  • Choose lower-fat meats such as chicken breasts or ground turkey; go for the 95% lean ground beef, too.
  • Even tortillas and crackers have lower-fat and salt options. Baked chips of all kinds tend to be lower in fat. Baking your own pita and tortilla crisps is a great choice, too.

Serve it on a stick.

  • Thread vegetables, chicken breast or lean beef strips on skewers; grill and serve with a selection of sauces. Find healthy, sweet to savory sauce and dip recipes from Mayo Clinic here
  • Serve fruit from strawberries to melon balls on a skewer with a side of nonfat fruit yogurt dip. It’s a classic and adds color, as well as a bite of freshness.
  • Slide a grape tomato, basil leaf and a square of pesto-dipped mozzarella cheese onto a skewer.
  • Marinate veggie skewers of grape tomatoes, mushrooms, onion wedges, green, red or yellow peppers in low-fat Italian dressing, then grill.

Go crackers – and beyond.

  • Look for whole grain tortillas, pita bread, crackers, bruschetta.
  • Make your own kale chips to add flavor and color to your snacks. 
  • Substitute thick slices of cucumber, big white radishes, apples or pears for crackers. Spread a cucumber with low-fat cream cheese mixed with horseradish and top with a thin slice of ham on a toothpick. Pile olive tapenade on radish slices. Top apples or pears with a smear of chutney and a slice of smoked turkey.

Make it fun.

  • Spread hummus on a plate, top with chopped olives mixed with a little nonfat Italian dressing and serve with pita crisps. For basketball fans, arrange the olives in lines like those on a basketball.
  • Jazz up classic deviled eggs (keep them skinnier with nonfat mayo) by stirring in horseradish, chopped jalapeno-stuffed olives or a dash of sriracha sauce and chopped green onions. Top with thin slices of green pepper to look like the lacings on a football.
  • Set up a Virgin Bloody Mary bar with a host of veggies for guests to build their own skewers. Choose a low-sodium tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix.
  • Add fruit kabobs to tall glasses of flavored sparkling water.

Move it!

  • Work off a few calories by creating a cheerleading competition for halftime. Put your body into it and don’t forget the pompoms!
  • Head to the garage and toss foam footballs or basketballs.
  • Host a sledding or skating party before settling down to watch bobsledding, figure skating or hockey.

For more tips and recipes, Mayo Clinic offers recipes for an array of delicious, healthy snacks and appetizers perfect for game day or any day. For more tips and recipes, check out ChooseMyPlate or Fruits and Veggies – More Matters and search “healthy snacks”.

Rose Prissel, MS, RDN, LD,  is a dietician at Mayo Clinic working in pediatric and adult nutrition, which a focus on preventive care, sports nutrition and weight management.