The big game on Super Bowl Sunday usually brings with it big eats.
In just one day, Americans consume millions of pounds of potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn and nuts. And dont even get me started on the guacamole, chicken wings, baby back ribs, pizza, dips, chili and subs.
But a few smart choices can have you enjoying Super Bowl-style snacks without doing quite so much damage to your New Years resolutions.
My buffalo popcorn chicken is a good example. It puts a delicious, low-calorie spin on a game-day favorite – chicken wings. Typical wings rack up 549 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving (youd have to do the wave about 2,000 times to burn those off). My version has just 264 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving.
Traditionally, chicken wings are deep-fried. Combine that with the usual blue cheese dip accompaniment, and you have a caloric nightmare. Mine are served with low-fat blue cheese dressing, and I swear you wont taste the difference.
To reduce fat and calories, I use my flash-frying method, which is easy to master.
Starting with skinless chicken thighs, I microwave the thighs until cooked through. Microwaving the chicken first means you dont have to leave it in the oil for nearly as long. Next, they are dunked in low-fat egg white, then dredged through a blend of whole-wheat flour and cornmeal.
After that, the frying takes just 12 seconds. Traditional methods call for 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking the chicken before it hits the oil means it needs little time in the oil. And that means it absorbs very little.
Nothing goes better with wings – or in this case, thighs – than beer. But drink a few brews and youll have to climb the stadium steps for an hour to burn them off. Instead, consider serving low-calorie beer at your party. There are some great ones out there.
As for the rest of your Super Bowl offerings, dont be afraid to serve vegetables and fruit with low-fat and low-sodium dips, and other creative low-cal foods. With some thoughtful planning and delicious dishes, youll be sure to score with food and football fans alike.
Buffalo Popcorn Chicken
1 quart grapeseed or corn oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and ground black pepper
2 egg whites
1/4 cup fine-ground yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce
1 bunch celery, trimmed and cut into 4- to 5-inch lengths
1/2 cup low-fat blue cheese dressing
In a large, heavy pot over medium, heat the oil to 400 degrees. Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.
Meanwhile, cut each chicken thigh into 4 to 5 even chunks. Season the chunks on all sides with salt and pepper, then arrange them on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces and move those on the outer edge of the plate to the center and vice versa.
Microwave on high again until the chunks are just cooked through, about another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes depending on your microwave. Let the chicken cool to room temperature.
While the chicken cools, in a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, about 2 minutes. In a separate large bowl, mix the cornmeal and flour, then season with salt and pepper.
Submerge the cooked chicken pieces in the egg whites and toss to coat well, then move the chicken to the bowl with the cornmeal mix. Toss the chicken to coat well.
Working in about 4 batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil and fry for 12 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. While the chicken is still hot, place it in a large bowl, add the buffalo sauce and toss to coat well.
Serve the chicken with celery and blue cheese dressing for dipping. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 264 calories; 14 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 75 milligrams cholesterol; 13 grams carbohydrate; 27 grams protein; 3 grams fiber; 747 milligrams sodium.