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Super Healthy Snackin’ for the Big Game!

Super Healthy Snackin’ for the Big Game!

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The “superest” football day of the year—Super Bowl Sunday—needs your help. It’s been pegged as one of the unhealthiest chow fest days of the year, with Americans consuming nearly 1,200 calories from snacks alone during the 3- to 4-hour game and festivities!

So what can you do to lighten the load while still celebrating with the foods partygoers love most?

Huddle up! Here are three smart plays for healthier game-day cooking. It will shave hundreds of calories off your big-game menu, all while packing in a few power foods you can feel good about.

So, it’s your turn to shine and put together that winning drive to save the reputation of this super snacking day.

PLAY 1: Dip veggies for crunch

An estimated 11.2 million pounds of chips are devoured on Super Bowl Sunday. You can save more than 100 calories per serving by dipping veggies like carrots, celery and sliced bell peppers instead of chips into your favorite dip.

PLAY 2: Skinny scoops

A few simple swaps using reduced-fat cheese and light mayonnaise can shave off significant amounts of unnecessary fat and calories. Using reduced-fat instead of fat-free to make the switch will help maintain the texture, richness and flavor of the original.
Other best bets (in moderation, of course) and strategies are:
• When in doubt about what’s in that rich dip you’re about to scoop up, aim for the salsa. Those are naturally low in calories and fat.
• Bean-based dips offer a boost of fiber and help fill you up.
• Guacamole, which lends a dose of healthy fats, is a party favorite that feels like a splurge.
• Portion control is a must. Just place a small amount of dip on your plate and stick to it. A typical serving size for most dips is 2 tablespoons.

PLAY 3:Use your cheesehead

Let’s face it, everyone loves cheese. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not all bad for you. It’s a great source of calcium and protein.

But, the best cheese offense is a good defense. When food is smothered in cheese, steer clear. A 1-ounce serving of Cheddar cheese (about 1 slice or a 1-inch cube) can pack in 6 grams of saturated fat and more than 100 calories. We’re talking lineman food!

Here’s a tip: When preparing your favorite cheesy dish, in addition to switching to a lower-fat alternative, use a stronger-flavored variety and use less. You’ll find that you can get away with nearly half the amount of cheese if you’re opting for a bolder flavor, like blue cheese or goat cheese.

To get you started with your recipe lineup, we’re calling in a few winning plays with these lightened-up party recipes:

Layered Light Buffalo Chicken Dip

YIELD: 16 servings
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes

1 package (8 oz) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
1/2 cup reduced-fat blue cheese dressing
1/3 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend or reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped celery, crumbled blue cheese
Whole-grain crackers or celery sticks

Heat oven to 350°F. In medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with a whisk until smooth. Stir in dressing, hot sauce and water until blended. Stir in chicken and cheese. Spread in ungreased 9-inch pie plate and cover with foil.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Stir; layer with lettuce, tomatoes, celery and blue cheese. Serve dip hot with crackers or celery sticks.

Lighter Kale and Spinach Dip with Artichokes

YIELD: 12 servings
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes

1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped
2 cups finely chopped kale leaves (stems removed)
2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves (2 oz), chopped
1 package (8 oz) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
4 tablespoons shredded Asiago cheese (1 oz)
1/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
Toasted baguette slices

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 1-quart shallow glass baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate and with cooking spray.

Spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add bell pepper; cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Stir in kale and spinach. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand until greens are wilted.

In large mixing bowl, stir cream cheese with whisk until smooth. Add mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons of the Asiago cheese, the milk, garlic and Italian seasoning; mix until well blended. Stir in bell pepper-greens mixture and artichokes. Spread evenly in baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Asiago cheese.

Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve dip warm with baguette slices.

Southwest Chicken Casserole

YIELD: 6 servings
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2-1/2 to 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs and drumsticks), skinned
2 tablespoons light oil (canola, vegetable, or olive as preferred)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained, rinsed
1 jar (16 oz) chunky salsa
1 cup tomato juice
1 bag (1 lb) frozen broccoli, red peppers, onions and mushrooms
2/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix flour, 1 teaspoon of the chili powder, the salt, cumin and black pepper. Add half of the chicken pieces. Seal bag; shake to coat. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cook on all sides, turning occasionally, until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside. Discard drippings. Add beans, salsa, tomato juice, frozen vegetables, rice, red pepper, garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder to skillet. Heat to boiling. Spoon rice mixture into baking dish; arrange chicken pieces on top of rice mixture. Cover with foil.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest pieces are cut to bone (at least 165°F) and rice is tender.