Health & Fitness

By Leslie Rice Hart

In honor of the Texas Longhorns playing in the Rose Bowl (I went to school at the University of Texas at Austin, “Go Horns”) I thought I’d share some of my favorite, easy, no fuss munchies and football watchin’ grub. I’ve tweaked them a bit, making them a little healthier.

Chips to Dip
Baked chips come in many varieties these days. Potato, corn tortilla, soy, pita, the list goes on and on. Go to your local market and look for the bags that say baked not fried or less fat. Make the healthier choice and munch away.

Dip your Chip
There are now a variety of low-fat, delicious, prepared dips, in your local market, usually in the produce section. There are also Guiltless Gourmet Bean Dips in the chips or natural foods section. Place the dips in a bowl and serve with vegetables, crackers or chips.

You’ll Want to Salsa after these Salsas
Salsa is naturally low in fat and calories. There are so many wonderful salsas in the markets these days. Two of my favorites are the Peach Mango Salsa by Santa Barbara and Mrs. Renfro’s Raspberry Chipolte Salsa. If you have a favorite Mexican restaurant, often times they’ll package up some salsa for you to purchase, delicious and homemade without you making the fuss and mess.

Hearty Chili With or Without Beans
Chili is an easy, no fuss meal that can feed many hungry football fans. I prefer the ground turkey in mine. Lean ground beef, chicken, turkey or a combination are all good choices.

Cook, drain all the grease and rinse the meat before making the chili. This will eliminate a lot of the fat. Beans are delicious in chili. Pinto, kidney and black beans are great in chili and loaded with fiber. You can cook up a pot of beans, use some for the chili, and have some for another meal of beans and rice. Any packaged beans will having cooking instructions on the bag. You can also use the canned beans for convenience.

You can find a good natural chili mix at your local grocer or Whole foods market. The package will indicate how spicy the chili will be so make sure you get the right level of spiciness for you and your guests. Just follow the directions on the chili package. They’re so easy and it takes very little time to prepare.

Top it off with a little chopped onion and low-fat cheddar cheese, delicious. Serve with whole-wheat crackers or baked tortilla chips and you have a yummy meal. You can also use a soft flour or corn tortilla, put some chili, lettuce, tomato and low fat cheese in it, fold it over or wrap it around and you’ve got a great burrito or soft shelled taco.

Nibble on This
Sliced veggies are great to dip in hummus. There is good, ready-made hummus in the markets. The baked pita chips or whole wheat pita bread is also good to serve with the hummus.

Seven Layers of Fun
Why not use some of the things you already have to make a delicious, easy and eye catching layered dip.

Use a clear glass bowl or serving dish.

You’ll need cooked pinto or black beans, homemade or canned (blended smooth in a food processor or blender) You can also buy a jarred bean dip such as Guiltless Gourmet or Bearitos Bean Dips, low-fat cheddar/Monterey Jack blend or just cheddar shredded, low-fat sour cream, ready made guacamole, chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, Pico de Gallo or chunky salsa. All of the ingredients can be found at your local market.

In the clear serving dish, add equal layers of blended beans, low-fat sour cream, low fat cheese, guacamole, Pico de Gallo or salsa, lettuce, tomato. Serve with baked tortillas chips or veggies.

Popcorn That is Easy, Delicious and Low-Fat
Instead of using a lot of oil to pop your popcorn, which adds loads of fat and calories, why not air pop it or pop it in the microwave. There are inexpensive air poppers and bowls to use in the microwave that require no oil, or pre-packaged bags that come with less oil added. In addition, there are bags of pre-air popped popcorn. After I air pop my popcorn I give it a few squirts of all natural butter flavored cooking spray. I then sprinkle on some low sodium salt and Butter Buds, Molly McButter or cheese flavor Molly McButter (you can find these in the spice aisle of your supermarket) and mix it.. You can be creative and use any spice you think would be good on popcorn. Throw a little Cajun spice to get a spicy variety. Mix some sugar and cinnamon to sweeten it up a little-just don’t go overboard with the sugar.

It makes a great guiltless low-fat snack.

I hope these suggestions have helped make your party fun, easy and full of good, healthy chow.

Originally published January 2006
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