Big-Game Munchies for Healthy Chompers

By Barb Freda      

Three fresh ideas for even-the-junk-food-folks-will-love-‘em recipes to add to your Big Game spread. But these tasty bites won’t have you drowning in fat and calories.

Game day doesn’t have to mean leaving those well-intentioned resolutions at the door. Have your football, your food and your fortitude—and eat well, too, with these three health-friendly snacks to serve up. Don’t bother letting anyone know they are “good-for-you” snacks: no one will be able to tell the difference.

Hummus: This is the simplest, easiest and most inexpensive treat you can imagine and I’ve never seen anyone turn it down because it was too healthy! Served with cut up vegetables or baked pita triangles (cut whole pitas into small wedges and bake in a 350 degree oven until crispy), it’s a low-fat alternative to sour-cream based dips.

2 15-ounce cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large garlic clove
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
Chopped parsley for garnish.

Place all ingredients except parsley into food processor; process to a smooth consistency (if it is still too thick, add a bit of water to thin). Use a spatula to scrape the hummus into a serving bowl and place on platter with vegetables and pita toasts. Fancy it up: Top it with toasted pine nuts, roasted red pepper or lemon zest in addition to the parsley for an extra touch.

Spiced Nuts: Almonds are good for everyone (plenty of protein, fiber and mono-unsaturated fat—you know, the good kind) and a few almonds go a long way in satisfying hunger pangs.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound raw almonds, skin on
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 300. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add almonds and toss to coat. Continue to cook, stirring often until the almonds start to color. Add Worcestershire sauce, toss to coat all nuts and continue to cook until sauce has thickened and almost evaporated. 
  2. Mix paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour almonds into bowl and stir to coat well (and evenly). Spread almonds into single layer on baking sheet and bake about 12 minutes, until the nuts are dry and no longer sticky. Cool slightly and serve.

Baked Potato Skins: Makes 16 baked potato skins This is for the die-hard potato fanatics in the bunch—those who don’t want to give up the fries. Leave the skin on for extra nutrients and vitamins. Since these are baked, not fried, no worries on the fat content. And there’s no dip or ketchup needed for these—just fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and plenty of garlic.

4 Idaho baking potatoes, each about 4 or 5 inches long, scrubbed clean
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

  1. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook until tender in the center, about 15 minutes (test with a knife; time will depend on size of potato). Drain potatoes and cool slightly. 
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into quarters and scoop out centers, leaving about 1/4-inch of potato on skin. Spray baking sheet with olive oil. Place potato skins on sheet, cut side up. Spray tops lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Mix chopped rosemary and garlic together, then sprinkle over potatoes. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm. Note: Still missing a dip? Mix low-fat or fat-free yogurt (try the new Greek-style yogurt) with a package of onion soup mix or Ranch dressing mix for a guilt-free version of sour cream dip.