Game on! Put healthier Super Bowl snacks in the lineup

Dutch oven dip, created by nutrition expert Annessa Chumbley, offers the cheesy appeal of nachos but with only 135 calories per serving.
Dutch oven dip, created by nutrition expert Annessa Chumbley, offers the cheesy appeal of nachos but with only 135 calories per serving. Safeway

For a month, we’ve been good. We’ve lived up to our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy, cutting fat and calories.

Maybe we’ve opted for less dairy, or we’ve gone gluten-free or vegan. We’re starting to feel like we have a handle on our diet game plan.

Then comes Super Bowl and all those good intentions get sacked.

“Super Bowl has been the death of diet resolutions,” said nationally known nutritionist Annessa Chumbley. “Healthy food is not the first thing you think of at a Super Bowl party. But if you put out at least one or two healthier options, people will really appreciate it.”

Super Bowl has become about feasting as much as football. Sunday will be a major food holiday, second in one-day food consumption only to Thanksgiving.

More than 110 million Americans are expected to watch the big game – and most of them will be nibbling munchies long before kickoff. According to industry estimates, the average fan will consume more than 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat in game-time snacks. That doesn’t count the pizza and sliders.

“Any time you have an opportunity to have fun around food, you can discover things that are healthy but also delicious,” said Chumbley, who has worked with Safeway’s O Organics label to create healthier versions of many classic recipes. “More people are taking ownership of their own health. They want to eat healthy and have fun. … With a few swaps, it’s really easy to have a healthy Super Bowl spread.”

This year’s contest will be held at Houston’s NRG Stadium, enough inspiration for a Tex-Mex buffet theme. Nachos, taquitos and chili may not sound like healthy eating, but they can be significantly improved.

“It’s all about making a couple of healthy swaps,” she said. “For example, substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. You can half the sour cream or mayonnaise in any recipe with the help of Greek yogurt – that includes your favorite dips.”

For parties, Chumbley likes to make her own tortilla chips.

“They’re so easy,” she said. “Instead of store-bought chips, set out a bowl of homemade chips. You can season them as you like. They feel and taste special.”

To make, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut 6-inch tortillas into quarters. Spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spray each side of the tortilla quarters with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with seasoning and bake 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp and slightly brown.

“I like chili powder and lime zest,” Chumbley said. “They’re also good with oregano or just salt and pepper.”

Also keep in mind other vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options, Chumbley noted. “Absolutely offer some gluten-free dishes; it’s a great idea no matter who’s coming. That person at your party with an allergy or intolerance will be extremely grateful.”

To skip the gluten, use gluten-free corn tortillas instead of flour for the chips. Instead of crostini or crackers, substitute sweet potato rounds as an appetizer base.

“I like vegetables as vehicles,” she said. “Sweet potatoes cut into  1/4 -inch thick rounds and roasted make a great substitute for crostini. So do cucumbers, sliced thick on the diagonal; top with hummus and Kalamata olives for a vegan appetizer. You’re subbing out processed carbs for vegetables.”

Chumbley offered this Super Bowl strategy.

“Keep the end game in mind,” she said. “Always put out a veggie tray for constant snacking and use it to advantage. Offer (at least) one cold dip and one hot dip such as the Dutch oven dip or the hot kale and artichoke dip. I really like cabbage with the Dutch oven dip, which is good and hearty.”

Anyone who likes nachos will gravitate to the beefy, cheesy Dutch oven dip, which also goes well with those homemade chips. The kale and artichoke dip is rich and creamy. Chumbley’s healthy Buffalo chicken dip is a tasty choice, too.

For a main course, Chumbley suggested her slimmed-down Killer Beef Chili.

“Chili is actually really healthy,” she said. “It’s high in protein and fiber. I set it out with an assortment of great toppings such as chopped avocado, pico de gallo or salsa, corn, diced tomatoes, scallions and Greek yogurt.”

Your party guests won’t miss the fat and calories, she added.

“Some people will love it that you put some thought into healthier choices,” Chumbley said. “Some people won’t know – and don’t want to know. And they’ll like it, too.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

Super Bowl 51

Where: NRG Stadium, Houston

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5

TV: KTXL Channel 40

Teams: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

Halftime show: Lady Gaga

Easy baked taquitos

Makes 18 taquitos

This low-cal twist on a party snack favorite features Greek yogurt, corn tortillas and prepared salsa.

Recipe courtesy Annessa Chumbley and Safeway.

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

4 ounces Colby Jack shredded cheese

1 small (4 ounce) can diced green chilies

18 corn tortillas

16 ounces prepared mild salsa

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and set to medium-high heat. Sauté onion until edges are light brown, about 7-9 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add ground beef and salt, breaking up beef and sautéing about 5 minutes until browned.

Turn heat off, remove pan from heat and stir in chilies, cheese and Greek yogurt.

Place half of the tortillas in between two paper towels and heat for 30 seconds in a microwave until they are warm and pliable. Repeat for the other half of the tortillas. Now you’re ready to roll up the taquitos.

Carefully put 2 tablespoons of beef filling in a line down one side of a wrap. Roll the wrap up tightly, and place seam-side-down on a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with nonstick spray. Repeat for the rest of the tortillas. Place each a half-inch apart on the baking sheet, so they can get toasted on all sides. Give all taquitos a light mist of cooking spray (or brush with olive oil) before putting in the oven.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and serve with mild salsa.

Per serving (3 taquitos): calories 298, total fat 12 g, saturated fat 5.1 g, polyunsaturated fat 0.4 g, monounsaturated fat 4.0 g, cholesterol 52 mg, sodium 795 mg, potassium 458.6 mg, vit D 0.1 mcg, calcium 157 mg, iron 2 mg, total carbohydrate 28 g, dietary fiber 5 g, sugars 6.5 g, protein 20 g.

Dutch oven dip

This flavorful nachos-like dip is only 135 calories per serving. Serve with cauliflower florets for a nutritious, gluten-free combo.

Recipe courtesy Annessa Chumbley and Safeway.

2 cups cooked and shredded beef, chopped

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon horseradish sauce

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small Dutch oven, mix Dijon mustard, horseradish, red onion, Greek yogurt, BBQ sauce, and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Gently fold in beef. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese and scallions. Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with toasted crostini, tortilla chips or cauliflower florets.

Per serving: calories 135, total fat 9.55 g, saturated fat 4.9 g, polyunsaturated fat 0.0 g, monounsaturated fat 0.0 g, cholesterol 32.7 mg, sodium 237.3 mg, potassium 19.9 mg, total carbohydrate 3.25 g, dietary fiber 1.8 g, sugars 2.2 g, protein 9.15 g

Sweet potato flats

Makes about 40 rounds

Ditch the cheese on top and you have an easy vegan snack option.

Recipe courtesy Annessa Chumbley and Safeway.

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 pear, cored and cut into thin slices

4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add sweet potato slices and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Place rounds flat on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast 18-22 minutes, turning once halfway through. Remove from oven and top with Gorgonzola cheese. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes for Gorgonzola to soften.

Remove from oven and top with pear slices and toasted pecans. Serve warm.

Per serving (2-flat serving): calories 31, total fat 2.4 g, saturated fat 0.6 g, polyunsaturated fat 0.4 g, monounsaturated fat 1.1 g, cholesterol 2.0 mg, sodium 35.8 mg, potassium 38.4 mg, total carbohydrate 2.1 g, dietary fiber 0.5 g, sugars 0.9 g, protein 0.7 g

Healthy Buffalo chicken dip

Serve with carrots and celery sticks for a low-cal, gluten-free version of a fan-favorite party dip.

Recipe courtesy Annessa Chumbley and Safeway.

1 fully cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded

8 ounces low-fat or fat-free cream cheese

1/3 to 2/3 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)

1 package dry ranch dressing mix

1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, ranch packet, hot sauce, and Greek yogurt until well combined. (If the cream cheese is hard to mix, microwave it for a few seconds and try again).

Add in the shredded chicken and combine well. Pour mixture into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until dip is hot throughout. If desired, top with sliced green onions or crumbled blue cheese and serve hot.

Per serving: calories 63.5, total fat 3.3 g, saturated fat 1.7 g, polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g, monounsaturated fat 0.5 g, cholesterol 17.8 mg, sodium 402.9 mg, potassium 37.9 mg, total carbohydrate 1.2 g, dietary fiber 0.0 g, sugars 0.5 g, protein 6.1 g.

Hot kale and artichoke dip

No sour cream or mayonnaise needed in this tasty, healthy recipe.

Recipe courtesy Annessa Chumbley and Safeway.

One 15-ounce jar of marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped

8 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 cup finely chopped fresh kale

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, including 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Pour into a small baking pan (such as the size of a bread pan) coated in nonstick spray. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly. Remove and serve with tortilla chips, celery, sliced bell pepper and sliced cucumber.

Per serving: calories 107.9, total fat 7.3 g, sat. fat 3.4 g, poly. fat 0.2 g, mono. fat 1.5 g, cholesterol 16.0 g, sodium 306.0 g, potassium 55.4 mg, total carbohydrate 5.0 g, dietary fiber 0.1 g, sugars 0.5 g, protein 6.3 g.

Zesty walnut hummus

This twist on classic hummus dip is dairy- and gluten-free. The nuts give it an extra nutritional and flavor boost. (For those with nut allergies, omit the walnuts.)

Recipe courtesy the California Walnut Board.

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1 can (19 ounces) chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

1/4 cup Italian salad dressing

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a blender or food processor, purée walnuts, chickpeas, salad dressing and cayenne pepper together until smooth.

Serve with raw veggies, pita triangles or tortilla chips.

Killer beef chili

Chili is a Super Bowl mainstay, especially when the Big Game is played in Texas. This slimmed-down version offers a lot of flavor with less fat. (It’s gluten-free, too.)

Recipe courtesy Annessa Chumbley and Safeway.

1 pound lean (93 percent lean, 7 percent fat) ground beef

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided into 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

One 6-ounce can tomato paste

Two 15-ounce cans pinto beans (do not drain)

2 cups fresh pico de gallo or salsa fresca

2 cups water

Spray a 5-quart pot with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, brown ground beef, seasoning with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add garlic to beef and cook for about 30 seconds. Push all ingredients to one side of the pan and add chili powder to cleared side. Stir to toast the seasoning, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste to chili powder and toast, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve.

Per serving: calories 430, total fat 10 g, saturated fat 3.6 g, polyunsaturated fat 0.8 g, monounsaturated fat 3.6 g, cholesterol 76 mg, sodium 1269 mg, potassium1409 mg, vit D 0 mcg, calcium 130 mg, iron 7 mg, total carbohydrate 53 g, dietary fiber 12 g, sugars 15 g, protein 36 g.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee