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A playbook for eating healthier during bowl season.

By Jill Case

Everyone wants to enjoy the great food during the football bowl-game season, but that fun comes at a price. The Calorie Control Council (, along with the Snack Food Association, says on the day of the Super Bowl, Americans will eat 30 million pounds of snacks. This represents not only a lot of calories, but foods high in fat and sodium. A little bit of this is fine, but if you load up your plate with this kind of fare at all the bowl parties you attend, you could find yourself putting on a few pounds, not to mention clogging up your arteries.

A Safer Way to Hit the Buffet

If you are attending a party, you can’t control what is served, but you can control what and how much you eat. Here are some tips:

  • Fill your plate once with small portions of everything that looks good to you. If you really enjoy one particular food, you can go back for seconds of that food. This is better for your calorie count than starting with huge portions of everything that appeals to you.
  • After you eat, try to do your socializing away from the food table.
  • Offer to bring a dish so you know there will be at least one healthy choice you can load up on to go along with smaller portions of higher calorie foods.

Raise Your Glass without Tipping the Scales

Alcohol can really sabotage your healthy eating plans, but there are ways to incorporate drinks in to your evening without loading up on calories. The lowest calorie choice is wine, which averages about 100 calories for a five-ounce serving.

Beer, a bowl-party staple, varies in calories. You can have 12 ounces of light beer for about 108 calories, but if you choose an ale, you’ll be swigging down about 216 calories for 12 ounces.

Hard liquor is not as high in calories as you might think (most kinds average about 105 calories for a 1.5-ounce serving). It’s the mixers that kill you, so stick to mixers like diet tonic water, soda or club soda.

Stay away from frozen drinks like piña coladas and margaritas. They will cos t you more than 200 calories per drink. Enjoying the bowl party season and  staying healthy at the same time is the perfect w ay to kick off a healthy 2013.

Legal Substitutions Score Big

Healthier options to serve and snack on


Potato Chips / Pretzels

Creamy Dips / Salsa

Cheese Dips / Real Cheese

Wings / Chicken Strips

Supreme Pizza / Veggie Pizza

Cake / Fruit

When you are making a dish, substitute these healthier ingredients for the more calorie-laden ones:

Skip / Substitute

Bacon / Turkey Bacon

Sour Cream / Greek Yogurt

Sugar / Applesauce

Choose low- or reduced-fat versions of dressings, cream cheese and other ingredients. You won’t miss the extra fat in a recipe.

Addie Broyles’ Seven-Layer Bean Dip

Here’s the secret: Seven-layer bean dip can be seven (or five or nine) layers of ingredients you’d like to stuff in a taco or on a taco salad. Don’t like the sour cream when you’re at someone else’s Super Bowl party? Skip it when you host your own get-together. Using mashed beans and lean protein will keep the dip fulfilling but on the lighter side, and you can add substance without fat by adding a layer of rice (even if it’s leftover rice and tossed with canned tomatoes and green chiles). I like taco meat and chili with a hint of cinnamon or garam masala, so leave it out if you don’t. Guacamole is fatty, but in all the good ways, so even if you do want a seriously light dip, try not to cut it out entirely. Topping the entire dish with just a few olives and chopped onions will pack flavor without adding too many extra calories.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey

2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons ancho chile powder

2 teaspoons regular chili powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups cooked brown, white or wild rice

1 1/2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese

1 cup guacamole (or mashed avocados with lime juice)

1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 cup salsa 3/4 cup black or green olives, sliced

3/4 cup white or red onion, chopped

1/2 cup packed cilantro, chopped

Tortilla chips for dipping


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add ground meat. Break into chunks and cook until browned. While the meat is cooking, mash the kidney beans with 1/4 cup water or beef stock mixed with the salt. (You can puree the beans for a smoother texture.) Once the beef has browned, add cumin, ancho chile and chili powder, garam masala, remaining salt and garlic, and 1/4 cup water. Stir, cooking about three more minutes. Set meat mixture aside and let cool slightly. In a 9-by-13-inch glass dish or a large, wide bowl, spread the beans in a layer on the bottom of the pan. Next, spread the meat, then the rice and the cheese. Using a spatula, spread a thin layer of the guacamole, followed by the Greek yogurt or sour cream. Spoon the salsa on top of the sour cream and spread with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the sliced olives, onions and cilantro. Refrigerate until serving. Serves 18 to 20.

Addie Broyles’ Playbook for a Healthier Bowl Party

Austin food writer Addie Broyles spoke with ATX Man and provided these tips for cooking and eating healthier during the bowl-party season:

Use ground turkey or a combination of ground turkey and lean ground beef in your chili recipes or for your burgers.

Bake chicken wings in the oven instead of frying them.

Turkey wraps with hummus are a healthy alternative to calorie- and fat-laden sandwiches or subs.

➜ For the sweet tooth, try grilling pineapples and peaches.

➜ The biggest tip of all: Eat better during the week in anticipation of the big bowl party so a few extra calories won’t be a big problem on the day of the party.

Addie Broyles is the food writer for the Austin American- Statesman and’s Relish Austin food blog.


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