by Anna Marie Trotman

February is American Heart Month, a time to remind ourselves to be a little more conscientious about the food we eat. But what about special circumstances like Super Bowl Sunday? This is a day that can bring on a load of nutritional penalties. Just take a look at the typical Super Bowl fare; chips and dips, wings, and pizza. This year you might also be serving cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and of course, there’s beer. One afternoon and evening of football faves can easily pile on more than 2,500 calories along with an astronomical amount of unhealthy fats.

Game Day Game Plan

As many of you know, I’m not into football, but this year I can’t help but be swept away with the Eagles flying off to Minnesota. The nurses serenaded me with the Fly Eagles Fly song when I came in last week wearing green and white! Beyond what I’m wearing I’m planning on serving heart-healthy munchies and refreshments.

I want to encourage our Birth Center families and friends to do the same and make small changes in your menu planning, like using herbs and spices to season your food instead of massive amounts of salt and fat. Make a game plan for a menu that won’t leave everyone feeling like an over bloated linebacker.

Suggestions for a Super Duper Heart Healthy Super Bowl Party

Have you thought about what kind of food you’re going to serve during the Super Bowl or what potluck dish you’re taking to a friend’s house?  Below are some suggestions to support you in making some heart-healthy choices. Share your party pictures on Facebook and tell us how your game plan worked out.

  1. Don’t be timid about asking your friends to bring over healthier snacks such as blue corn or bean-based tortilla chips. Multigrain chips are great because they provide some fiber and protein compared to other chips.
  2. To go with those chips, what else but guacamole! Keep it simple by using a few ingredients. Here’s my recipe; 2 ripe medium avocados sliced in half and pitted, 2 or 3 ripe Roma tomatoes chopped, 1 TBSP finely chopped sweet onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic (I use roasted garlic), cilantro to taste, juice of 1 small lime (put in microwave for a few seconds and it’ll get really juicy), and salt to taste. Combine all ingredients and blend together. Mash the avocados with a fork according to the consistency that you like–chunky or smooth. Serve immediately.
  3. Roast a couple of bulbs of garlic and put it on everything! Rub garlic with olive oil, loosely wrap in aluminum foil, bake in oven at 275 degrees for about ½ hour or until soft, separate cloves and squeeze onto a baguette. While your roasting, try some carrots, beets, and cherry tomatoes. Make an antipasto tray using the roasted veggies, olives, prosciutto or sliced ham, goat cheese and shaved parmesan, be creative. Some fresh arugula will give it some color and is a nice healthy choice.
  4. Buffalo-style “wings”: According to the National Chicken Council, Americans eat more than 1.25 billion wings while watching the game. Since the average fried wing with ranch or blue cheese dressing will set you back about 125 calories each, you can save hundreds of calories by making grilled or broiled buffalo-chicken strips. Coat strips of the boneless skinless chicken breast in a hot buffalo sauce and bake or grill the chicken. Look online for some heart healthy options. For the blue-cheese dressing try using yogurt rather than mayo.
  5. Serve cheese steak and pretzel bites instead of the whole thing.
  6. Who doesn’t want a beer, and not the light kind either? Along with your favorite ale serve seltzer waters with sliced fruit. I make a great non-alcoholic Sangria using Pom Juice instead of wine. I add lime seltzer water when it’s time to serve and it’s a huge hit.
  7. One-bite desserts: For a sweet finish serve dark-chocolate-covered almonds, one-bite brownies and small portions of yummy cheesecake. Not necessarily guilt-free, but after all, it’s not every year the Eagles go to the Super Bowl!

Touch Down!

Heart-healthy doesn’t mean that the food has to be bland or taste like cardboard. Birth Center employees Marilyn and Jenna were taste testers for a healthier version of my heart healthy spicy chili. The empty bowls say it all!