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Fun foods and sporting events go hand-in-hand, and the Super Bowl is the granddaddy of them all. But just because an event encourages hours of snacking doesn't mean that there can't be healthy options that have protein, vegetables, fiber and other ingredients that are both filling and healthy. And yes, there are even ways to make them taste good.
Jan Renee, a Los Angeles-based clinical nutritionist specializing in diet and weight loss, suggests creating a Super Bowl-themed healthy food station such as a build-your-own taco bar with fresh vegetable toppers and ground turkey. This is a great way to make game day healthy without sacrificing flavor.
"Empower children to make healthy choices with a do-it-yourself station equipped with visually appealing, nutrient-dense foods arranged in a fun, mix-and-match fashion," Renee says.
New Orleans-based Chef Jonah Nissenbaum agrees, "Taco bars are great for parties because everyone (kids included) can make something unique to fit their tastes: Savory or sweet, spicy or mild—you can make it your own. And it's great for planning because you don't have to worry about allergies."
Cauliflower Pizza & Breadsticks
For a healthy alternative to carb central, Denver-area blogger Jamie VanEaton, who creates gluten-free and low-carb options for her website, YourLighterSide.com, created a cauliflower-based pizza and similar cauliflower breadstick recipe for her four picky kids (and their picky dad). She tops them with pepperoni.
"Parents love these because they're typically the first gluten-free 'bready' recipe they've tried that made them as happy as a regular deep-dish breadstick," says VanEaton. "And mom's OK with them going back for seconds, because the kids are eating hidden vegetables." She recommends adding a heated pizza sauce for dipping. The full recipe can be found at Your Lighter Side.
Want a dessert that's easy to eat in front of the TV and doesn't require a knife and fork? Los Angeles-based food writer Dorothy Reinhold, who blogs at ShockinglyDelicious.com, suggests pretzel sticks that kids can dip in desserts and cover in sprinkles. She makes hers with melted chocolate covered with sprinkles—"Match the sprinkles to the team colors," she says—but healthier options can include honey, peanut butter or yogurt, and that can be coated in dried fruit and nuts.
Cut out calories and sugars by opting for a yogurt bar over ice cream sundaes, says Catherine McCord, founder of kid-centric cooking website Weelicious.com. McCord says to put out a tub of Greek yogurt, plus honey, granola and fresh fruit.
"Give them little cups and let them build their own," she says. "They're getting the Greek yogurt, which is protein. It's not empty calories."
What's one of the quickest ways to get vegetables into kids? Put them in liquid form. Reinhold suggests her "SuperKale" smoothie because it's good for you and it also happens to be "the color of the grass on the football field."
Reinhold sweetens her smoothies with pineapples, mangoes and papaya. While she adds tequila for adult parties, she says her super concoction can be made virgin-style by using coconut water instead. Smoothies can be made ahead of time and put in pitchers in the fridge (just make sure to note which one has the alcohol!).