February 2, 2007

Everything is Super on Sunday, including our stomachs

America loves food...and football. We prove it each year around this time, by eating our way through four quarters of Super Bowl football, 50 commercials and 3 million pizzas. That's right, 3 million pizzas.

According to the book, "Mindless Eating", the Super Bowl ranks #1 in home parties and #2 in food consumption (right behind Thanksgiving). We also eat 4 thousand tons of popcorn, 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 2.5 million pounds of nuts.

Hungry Super Bowl snackers will chow down on a total of 30 million pounds of food, with 4 million pounds of fat. Per individual, that's about 1,200 calories with 50 grams of fat from snacks alone, the Calorie Control Council and the Snack Food Association says.

By kickoff most people will be in a guacamole stuper.

Robin Steagall, a dietitian with the Calorie Control Council, recommends building a pre-game strategy.

When you arrive at the party, navigate the food table carefully, looking for healthy fruit or vegetable platters. And while Andrews admits plain raw things might not be the most appetizing, he suggests spicing them up with a healthy protein dip, such as a bean or hummus spread.

If there won't be healthy options at the party, bring your own, Andrews says. The host will love that you contributed something, and you know you'll have a something besides grease-laden food.

Andrews emphasizes that if you have good nutrition day in and day out, there is nothing wrong with indulging on the traditional Super Bowl foods. Just watch your portions so you don't overdo it.

"Go eat and enjoy it. ... Eat what you want and get back on track ... the next day," he says.

Hey, I'm just like the next guy. I love love and football. But I'm not having inappropriate portions of pizza and chips. I'm fixing my famous Cincinnati Chili and substituting ground turkey for ground beef. [Here's one recipe; I like the Joy of Cooking's.]
What I have found that helps me keep my portions reasonable is lots of flavor from my spices. And Cincinnati Chili has a rich heritage of Far East spices. No one believes how good it is with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, and unsweetened chocolate. We serve it 4 Way.

For those not from Southern Ohio, 4 Way is chili served over spaghetti topped with a little cheddar cheese, chopped onions and a few cooked red kidney beans. I skip the Oyster crackers which would make it 5-Way Chili.

Make it a super day, not super portions.

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