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Level up your Super Bowl snack game with healthy swaps

By Stacey Stein

With the dawn of a new decade, many of us are more determined than ever to follow through on health and wellness goals, like cutting down on sugary snacks or alcohol. But while we may be diligent about eating healthfully in January, a few weeks later our best intentions often fall by the wayside at Super Bowl viewing parties.

After all, who can resist the temptation of deep fried mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings bathed in hot sauce, and nachos paired with fake cheese dip? This year, challenge yourself to make 2020 the year of redefining Super Bowl entertaining by swapping healthy, tasty alternatives for calorie-laden, gut-busting fan favourites. If you put out a spread brimming with creative, healthy interpretations of traditional apps, guests won’t even miss their fried, fat-filled counterparts. The best part? You’ll save your guests – and yourself – from breaking those healthy eating resolutions.

The standby: Nachos with artificial liquid cheese

Ubiquitous at Super Bowl parties, nacho chips are fun to eat and aren’t very filling, which is why it isn’t long before you lose track of how many you’ve crammed into your mouth. And what gives the cheese dip that fluorescent yellow glow?

The smart swap:

Registered dietitian Shannon Crocker recommends veggie-based alternatives that don’t sacrifice the taste or fun factor of this popular party app. Made with cheddar cheese, onions and other veggies, these potato nachos pack a lot of flavour while leaving guests feeling satisfied thanks to protein-rich and fibre-filled black beans. “This is a heartier dish that will be filling with an appropriate serving size,” says Crocker. “You get the great taste satisfaction that you want from a nacho but you’re not overeating.” Pair the potato nachos with a tangy dip that uses dill ranch-flavoured Nordica Smooth – a healthy, lower calorie alternative to artificial liquid cheese.

Loaded sweet potato fries are another delicious veggie alternative to nachos. A rainbow of veggies makes this a colourful and nutrient-dense dish.

The standby: Buffalo wings with blue cheese dip

Buffalo wings may be a well-loved party app, but they’re packed with calories and fat, making them anything but waistline-friendly.

The smart swap:

For a healthy buffalo wing dupe, Crocker recommends cutting a chicken breast into strips, tossing with some hot wing sauce, then skewering and broiling. Try serving with Nordica Smooth dill ranch dip.

Another idea is to create your own dip by mixing together Nordica Smooth Plain, minced garlic, lime juice and buffalo wing hot sauce (to taste), then serving with veggie sticks.

The standby: Seven-layer dip

Who doesn’t love a good seven-layer dip? This crowd-pleaser is a go-to dish that works well for large gatherings. Cream cheese – and lots of it – lends the dip its creamy texture, but also packs a wallop of calories and fat. And contrary to what some may believe, this isn’t balanced out by protein or calcium – cream cheese doesn’t have much of either.

The smart swap:

Made with Nordica Smooth Plain, this layered Tex-Mex dip is a lower fat version of the classic seven-layer dip. It also has the added benefits of calcium and protein, thanks to the cottage cheese. Crocker recommends mixing in some mashed or whole black beans to give the dip even more of a nutritional boost. Serve with chopped veggies along with tortilla chips so that guests have the option of something healthier to dip.

The standby: Fried finger foods

Onion rings, mozzarella sticks, deep fried jalapeño poppers… fried finger foods seem to be synonymous with casual entertaining. Bereft of nutrients and loaded with calories and salt, these party apps are far too easy to overeat (especially when paired with an equally calorie-dense and fat-laden dip.)

The smart swap:

Mushroom-stuffed zucchinis are a tasty and nutritious stand-in for jalapeño poppers, while these flavourful cherry bocconcini bites mimic the cheesy goodness of mozzarella sticks, minus the fat and calories (Crocker recommends swapping cherry tomatoes for the dried apricots and skewering with fresh basil leaves.) Zucchini bruschetta, made with Swiss cheese, is a healthful swap for garlic bread. “Each one of these options includes veggies in a tasty and interesting way,” says Crocker.

The standby: Beer and other alcoholic beverages

A few pints may seem to go hand-in-hand with Super Bowl entertaining, but if you’re working on your beer belly, you’ll probably want to steer clear of alcohol during your Game Day festivities.

The smart swap:

According to Crocker, more people are “jumping on the booze-free train,” which coincides with the growing popularity of mocktails. “People are recognizing the health risks and costs associated with alcohol,” she says. Try making virgin versions of your favourite cocktails for your guests. A multi-layered cocktail like this pineapple Caesar with grilled Halloumi features a complex interplay of interesting flavours, so you won’t even miss the alcohol when you omit it.

The standby: Sugary sweets

Rooting for your favourite team while indulging in treats like brownies, cookies and candies may be tempting, but it’s a losing strategy for sticking to your healthy eating plans this year.

The smart swap:

Food served on boards is a hot trend right now – Crocker recommends jumping on the bandwagon by swapping a fruit snack board for a sweets tray. “This is an elevated version of a basic fruit tray,” she says. Pile various fruit onto a charcuterie board – grapes, orange wedges, berries, and apple slices all work well – and then include a few bowls of Nordica Smooth for dipping (put out different flavours like blueberry acai, salted caramel and lemon.) Complete your creation by sprinkling chunks of dark chocolate and roasted almonds around the board. Crocker also suggests including a can of coconut whipped topping or light whipped cream. “This will be a show stopper at your party,” she says.

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