Courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times about Super Bowl 50.
Tiffani Thiessen hosts “Dinner at Tiffani’s” on the Cooking Channel.| FOOD NETWORK
Super Bowl 50 is a week away. And if you’re hosting a Super Bowl Party, you know the menu drill: chili, pizza, meatballs, chicken wings. What’s not to love?
But you might want to consider some healthier options for your big game-day menu, too. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch the tried-and-true; just consider a little revisionist approach. A “makeover” of traditional plates is one way to go, rendering your favorite party foods a little more calorie-friendly.
If you want to keep your traditionalists happy, serve up the staples (pizza, chips and dip and nachos), but weave in some newcomers such as veggie platters that feature a wide variety of choices in addition to the usual lineup of carrots, broccoli florets, cauliflower and celery. Consider roasted Brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes, assorted fresh or cooked mushrooms, cooked asparagus stalks, zucchini, snap peas, sliced fresh fennel and artichoke hearts (jarred varieties are so convenient!). The very vegetarian, whole wheat “beans in blankets” are a tasty alternative to the traditional “pigs in a blanket.”
When it comes to dips for those veggies, and you simply must have a creamy variety or two, consider serving homemade light ranch or light blue cheese, or select similar store brands (check labels for overall fat, sugar and sodium content). White bean dip is a healthier alternative to all the usual creamy dips. This recipe is easy to make and delicious. Or consider a simple balsamic vinaigrette as a “sauce” option instead of dips; guests can just drizzle it over veggies. Emeril Lagasse has one of the easiest-to-make balsamic vinaigrette recipes (skip the brown sugar) that has never failed me.
Tiffani Thiessen, (“Beverly Hills 90210,” “Saved By the Bell”), the star/host of the Cooking Channel show “Dinner at Tiffani’s” (the new season premieres at 7 p.m. Feb. 3), says veggies are a delicious “must” for any party menu.
“Stick to the easy, colorful salads,” she said. “I roast a lot of my vegetables anyway, and anything I don’t eat that day, I put in a salad [the next day]. So that’s an easy [dish] to prepare ahead of time [for your party].”
Serving cheese and crackers? Choose reduced-calorie or even fat-free cheeses (pre-packaged brands will take all the guesswork and stress out of chopping/slicing). Low-fat Swiss cheese, part-skim mini mozzarella balls (available in many deli cases nowadays) are also good choices. And read labels on those pre-packaged spreadable cheeses, as they can be loaded with sugar and sodium. Low-fat, low-sodium (or even unsalted) crackers come in myriad sizes and shapes. Consider rice flour-based crackers, too.
For party main courses, Thiessen says her four-bean chili, with or without chicken, (see recipe below) and honey chicken wings (see recipe below) are two of her favorite healthier party food options.
“My chicken wings recipe is a healthier choice because the wings are baked, not fried,” she said. “And you can get everything ready ahead of time. You can have the wings in the marinade ready to go right up until it’s time for baking. … And the chili, you can totally make ahead of time. … I’m all about having fun [when I cook], so avoid stress by having a [cooking/prep] timeline [leading up to game day].”
Thiessen also recommends checking with your guests about dietary restrictions — gluten-free foods and vegan preferences, for example — to make sure you have something that will appeal to their needs.
Her recipe for honey-roasted carrots with sesame seeds (consider substituting baby carrots for even easier prep time) would make a tasty side dish (instead of fries) for sliders or wings. (Portion control is a must when indulging in “sweetened” veggies.) And if you’d like potatoes represented on your buffet, Thiessen’s sweet po-tater tots(see recipe below) might fill the bill. Keep in mind they are fried, but if you stick with sensible portions, she says, you can indulge in fried foods on occasion.
“I try to do the 80-20 [rule],” Thiessen says. It’s 80 percent eating clean and the 20 percent is where I have a little fun. Because I believe if you don’t indulge every now and then, where’s the enjoyment?”
And when it comes to those sliders, there’s more to life than beef. Try this recipe for lightened-up Asian turkey sliders. Or try these turkey burgers with Gorgonzola (skip the Gorgonzola altogether for an even lighter fare).
Lightened-up Asian turkey sliders | COURTESY THE FOOD NETWORK
Dessert? It’s a cliche, but opt for a fresh fruit platter, fresh fruit salads or even a bowl of fresh apples. Fruit kebobs are easy to make and are the perfect way to end a hearty meal any time. Use your favorite fruits such as chunks of cantaloupe and pineapple, strawberries, banana slices, apples, kiwi. Use standard wooden kebab skewers (they’re available at grocery stores) to pierce the chunks, creating a colorful 4-to 5-piece skewer. You can set them out on a platter as-is, or drizzle a small amount of honey across the kebabs for a bit of extra sweetness.
“I think hosts are really trying to be more conscious about serving healthier foods [at parties’,” Thiessen says. “And people want to be a little more health-conscious about what they’re putting into their bodies.”
Below is Tiffani Thiessen’s recipe for Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings:
1/2 cup honey, preferably wildflower or mesquite
1/4 cup lime juice plus 1 tablespoon grated lime zest, plus more zest, for garnish
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 3 tablespoons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 chicken wings (about 4 pounds), tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
Tiffani Thiessen’s Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings | COURTESY THE COOKING CHANNEL
In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice and zest, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, scallions, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reserve 3/4 cup of the marinade for later use. Pour the remaining marinade into a 2-gallon ziptop bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible; massage to distribute the marinade. Marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put the wings skin-side down on the baking sheet and spoon the marinade from the bag over the wings. Cook for 20 minutes, then flip the wings, baste with the pan drippings, rotate the pan and cook until the honey has caramelized and the skin is a dark amber, an additional 20 to 25 minutes.
Pour the reserved 3/4 cup marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the liquid is thick and syrupy and turns into a glaze, about 4 minutes. Coat the wings with the thickened marinade. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with lime zest.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 35 minutes (includes bringing to room temperature and marinating time)
Below is Tiffani Thiessen’s recipe for Sweet Po-tater Tots
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oil, preferably peanut or grapeseed, for frying
Sweet Po-Tater Tots, by Tiffani Thiessen | COURTESY THE COOKING CHANNEL
Special equipment: a deep-frying thermometer
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the sweet potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Dry off any excess water with a kitchen towel.
Put the onions and cooled sweet potatoes in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse until the sweet potatoes are almost pureed but still a bit grainy. You should have some very small bits of potato visible. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to combine.
Using your hands, shape the potato mixture into 1- to 1 1/2-inch-long cylinders, packing them very tightly.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350 degrees F. Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels.
Working in batches, add the tater tots to the shimmering hot oil and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, turning with tongs or a slotted spoon to ensure even browning and being careful not to overcrowd the pan. With a slotted spoon or skimmer, remove the browned tots to the towel-lined plate to drain. Serve warm.
Yield: about 3 dozen tater tots
Active Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Below is Tiffani Thiessen’s recipe for four-bean chili:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Tiffani Thiessen’s four bean chili. | COURTESY THE COOKING CHANNEL
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces tomato paste
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained
One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups canned corn (drained) or frozen corn
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Sour cream or Greek yogurt
Chopped cooked bacon
Chopped yellow onions
Chopped fresh chives
Corn chips (optional)
Tortilla chips (optional)
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Mix in the remaining 2 tablespoons
olive oil along with the garlic, chili powder, chipotle powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne and tomato paste. Cook until the spices and tomato paste toast, 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes, black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, vegetable broth, corn, Worcestershire and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 1 hour. Garnish with items from the toppings bar as desired.
Cook’s Note: This recipe also works well with turkey or beef. Simply brown 2 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or beef before adding the onions to the Dutch oven.
Yield: 12 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Original article courtesy of Miriam Di Nunzio.