Are you planning a game day get-together? I say bring on the fun, the friends, the excitement…but consider re-thinking a few of those traditional fan favorite foods. Here are some of my favorite tricks for giving game-watchers what they want, but making it a diabetes-friendlier spread.
A slice of veggie pizza might saddle you with more than 200 calories, 3 grams saturated fat and 25 grams of carbohydrate. Adding meat adds more calories and saturated fat.
Game Day Play: Since many of the carbs and calories in pizza come from the crust, I like to create my own French bread pizzas. I slice a loaf of French bread lengthwise and scoop out the doughy center to trim both carbs and calories. Then I cut each half into six or eight slices. Each slice can have whatever topping you or the crowd desires. I like to start with sliced fresh tomatoes or a spoonful of jarred tomato sauce and add a variety of veggies (some favorites are baby spinach and sautéed mushrooms). Select reduced-fat mozzarella cheese or go artisanal with feta or goat cheese and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Since these are so simple to prepare, I make a variety of pizzas to please a crowd.
“Buffalo” chicken wings
I confess that I do not eat chicken wings myself, but I know they can be an integral part of the game-watching festivities. Consequently, I reached out to Sharon Salomon, MS, RD, culinary expert, and wing lover, for suggestions. Sharon suggested avoiding the frying, as it adds fat and calories (just one tablespoon of vegetable oil has about 120 calories and over 13 grams of fat).
Game Day Play: Try Sharon’s “boil and broil” method instead of frying: boil the wings in water, then season and broil for a few minutes to make the wings crispy. Wings are typically coated in a combination of butter and pepper, so Sharon recommends avoiding the butter; instead sprinkling the wings with cayenne pepper. Need a dipping sauce? Try a healthier twist on the usual blue cheese dip: mix creamy nonfat Greek yogurt with blue cheese. Another alternative (my pick!) is to cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into wing-sized pieces, season with pepper sauce or cayenne pepper, coat in whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs, and bake. Find more Super Sunday chicken recipes here.
Not everyone realizes that traditional guacamole is nutrient-packed. Avocados contain “good” fats, as well as fiber and potassium. A serving of just one-quarter cup of guacamole, however, is about 91 calories. The chips are potentially even harder to fit into your meal plan: Just one oz. of tortilla chips – about seven chips – weighs in at about 140 calories and 19 grams carbohydrate.
Game Day Play: The portion size is key here, so try to limit guacamole to just three or four tablespoons and dip with raw vegetables instead of chips. If game day doesn’t seem right without chips, buy a baked variety (always reading the label to make sure of the calorie and carb count), or try baking your own by coating both sides of corn tortillas with cooking spray, cutting them into triangles and baking them on a cookie sheet until crisp.
Most of the fats and calories in these party favorites come from the egg yolks and mayonnaise. A single egg yolk provides approximately 55 calories, 1.6 grams saturated fat and 184 mg cholesterol. One tablespoon of mayonnaise provides about 94 more calories.
Game Day Play: For every dozen eggs, I find I get a satisfying result using only six to eight yolks. Before mashing, I add a little reduced-fat cottage cheese and light mayonnaise, and no one knows the difference!
I cringe when I see an innocent potato skin loaded with lots of cheese, bacon, and sour cream, which is often the case.
Game Day Play: Start by using small potatoes to keep serving size in check. After baking, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and remove as much of the flesh as you can without tearing the skins; I try to leave less than 1/8 inch of flesh. Then add veggies (I like to add vegetables to almost everything!), such as lightly steamed broccoli, diced fresh tomatoes, jalapeños, sautéed onions, or bell peppers. Black beans or a spoon of vegetarian chili are also delicious additions. Sprinkle with reduced-fat cheese. Then broil and top with a tiny dollop of nonfat sour cream, if desired.
Now that you’ve got a touchdown-worthy menu, relax and enjoy the game!
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE*, is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week, contributing editor for Environmental Nutrition, and has written for many publications including EatingWell, Diabetic Living, Her Sports + Fitness, and LifeScript. Weisenberger is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience