As an alternative to burgers, sloppy joes, pulled-pork sandwiches or the subway platter from your local grocery market, consider making your own sandwiches so you have complete control over the ingredients. Use whole wheat breads (rustic or sandwich) and fill with light mayonnaise (or mustard or olive oil), lean cuts of meat such as turkey or chicken, fresh vegetables and herbs. Serve either cold or hot from a press and cut into small pieces.
Instead of the ubiquitous raw-vegetable tray of celery and carrot sticks with a plastic bowl of ranch dip stuck in the middle, offer your guests vegetables they will actually want to eat. Roasted vegetables sound messy, but can easily be picked off a tray with a toothpick. Cut up zucchini, tomatoes, squash, onions, bell peppers and sweet potatoes in bite-size pieces (French fry size also works) and lay flat on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian herbs. The vegetables are baked until bubbly and slightly crisp (about 1 hour at 400 degrees F). Serve the veggies with toothpicks or forks and you're sure to get surprised looks from the crowd.
Though classic dips are loved almost religiously, mix up a few alternative tastes to bring some variety to the dipping club. Seafood rarely finds it way onto the Superbowl menu, so to remedy that, consider making crab or salmon dip served with oven-baked pita chips or crackers. Offering a dipping food keeps guests busy while eating, and satisfies the dipping desire so well that the guests will forget completely about the absence of chips and salsa.
Fresh Fruit and Angel Food Cake
If there are desserts at a Superbowl party, they rarely include angel food cakes with fresh fruit compote. Angel food cake is a laid-back enough cake to not overdo the occasion while providing a light and tasty dessert. Make (or purchase) a large cake and slice into individual pieces or make (or purchase) small tart-size cakes. Lay the cake pieces next to a bowl of fresh fruit compote such as strawberries, blueberries or plums. Cut fruits and mix with sugar (about 1/4 cup sugar per 1 cup chopped fruit). Let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least an hour to allow a syrup to form. Offer a bowl of freshly whipped cream on the side as well.
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
To accompany the cake, offer themed shortbread cookies shaped like footballs. Shortbread is a light buttery cookie and is a great (and simple) alternative to the usual sugar cookie recipe. Instead of dressing the football in bright sticky frosting with “laces out,” dip the cookies into melted, tempered dark chocolate and allow to harden (should be made the day before) or mix chocolate into the shortbread batter before baking.
While no one is going to allow you to take away the beer, you can replace the ever-present sodas with a variety of flavored lemonades. Offer classic lemonade, pink lemonade, lime and raspberry lemonade in separate pitchers on the beverage table. Place a small bowl of fresh fruit next to each pitcher (such as a small bowl of cut lemons and a small bowl of raspberries) to add to and draw attention to the presentation. Consider offering at least one sugar-free flavor as well.