Junk food might dominate the ads, but need not dominate your party, says CSPI

There's no rule that your Super Bowl party has to feature boring sporting-event staples like chicken wings, pizza, chips, and soda. With that in mind, the food detectives at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, are recommending six delicious recipes and packaged foods for Super Bowl entertaining that offer a break from the same old high calorie, salty, fatty, sugary, and over-processed party fare.

"This Sunday, Americans should be more concerned with over-inflated bellies, not under-inflated footballs," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Consider making at least half of the food you serve on the healthier side of the spectrum, including generous amounts of fresh vegetables or fruit. Not all of your guests will want to eat like a linebacker, anyway."

If you put anything before your guests to mindlessly nibble on while watching the game, vegetables should be the default option, says CSPI. Fresh veggies contribute to lower rates of heart attack and stroke, especially if they’re replacing higher-calorie salty snacks like pretzels or potato chips. CSPI's recommendations for Sunday include:

  • Veggies & Hummus. Make your own hummus or buy a packaged brand like Sabra, Tribe, or Athenos. Serve with platters of baby carrots, red pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, or snow peas. A typical hummus has about 50 to 70 calories per two-tablespoon serving.
  • Roasted Chickpeas. Chickpeas aren’t just for making hummus. Roasted, they make for a snack that’s high in fiber and a good source of protein. The Good Bean Roasted Chickpea Snacks come in seven flavors, including Cracked Pepper, Thai Coconut, and Smoky Chili & Lime. Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas is another good option, which offers Korean BBQ, Falafel, Wasabi, and other flavors. A quarter cup serving has around 120 calories
  • Cannellini Beans & Chorizo. Instead of a big vat of chili con carne, consider Sherwood’s 5-ingredient, 20-minute recipe for white beans and chicken or turkey sausage. This dish keeps sodium under control (370 mg) and packs 6 grams of fiber for just 300 calories.

  • Clementines. Put out a big bowl full of sweet, easy-to-peel, and kid-friendly clementines (or other variety of mandarin orange). Halos and Cuties are two brand-name varieties of these little seedless, citrus gems, typically sold in bags or small wooden crates. Each has around just 40 calories and a gram or two of fiber.
  • Flavored waters. Instead of soda, consider seltzer water spiked with fruit juice, or if you’re more ambitious, pitchers of spa water flavored with slices of citrus fruits, cucumbers, herbs such as basil or mint, and berries.

Snacking aside, CSPI also criticized the National Football League for letting PepsiCo sponsor the halftime show, and celebrities like Katy Perry, Kid President, and Danica Patrick for promoting a sugary drinks, which cause diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other serious health problems.

“Soda companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo claim not to market to children, but kid-friendly celebrities like Katy Perry and Kid President have great appeal to tweens and younger children,” Jacobson said. “Years from now, these celebrities will likely look back with regret that they promoted a product that causes so much preventable disease and misery.”

Contact Info:  Jeff Cronin, jcronin@cspinet.org