Score a healthy touchdown with your family’s party food on Sunday


February 2, 2021

Keep the flavor but cut the calories for game day.

One of the best things about watching the Super Bowl is the game-day food, but football favorites are traditionally not the healthiest. Cheesy dips, fried finger foods and decadent desserts are a calorie- and fat-packed punch. The good news is that it is not hard to score big points in your house by lightening up the game-day indulgences a bit, while keeping the flavor. Here are a few ideas and lots of links to explore for healthier recipes that are easy to make and will keep you on track with your healthy diet.

  • Breaded and baked chicken tenders tossed in hot sauce: A tasty alternative to the standard deep-fried chicken wings that gives you that Buffalo-wing taste you love. (Find the recipe at this link.) Pair them with low-fat blue cheese and lots of crunchy vegetables. These Oven-Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Bites also deliver that buffalo taste in veggie form.
  • Turkey chili: The fans will love this hearty fiber-rich option loaded with beans and tomatoes. Lean turkey meat has about half the fat of ground beef, too. Top it with low-fat sour cream, cubes of avocado and a sprinkle of low-fat cheddar cheese for a yummy dish that is perfect for serving a group. (Also, click here for an Easy Four-Bean Vegetarian Chili that’s simple to make and sure to please.)
  • Chunky vegetable-packed guacamole with baked chips (see recipe below): By making your own chips you get the same crunchy flavor, without all of the saturated fat of regular tortilla chips. The guacamole is rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats; add lots of veggies like corn, tomatoes and sweet onion and you have a winning team.
  • Flatbread Veggie Pizzas: Skip the takeout pizzas loaded with lots of cheese and meat that is high in saturated fat and calories, and opt for an easy-to-make flatbread pizza loaded with fresh, crunchy veggies. Choose low-fat cheeses, and if you want meat, go for Canadian bacon. You can make a flavor play with fresh basil, too. Try the Flatbread Veggie Explosion Pizza recipe below and here’s another pizza idea if you’re firing up the grill.
  • Moist and chewy brownies made with applesauce: Most brownie recipes and mixes call for oil, which contains approximately 120 calories and 12 grams of fat per tablespoon. With only about 15 calories and negligible fat per teaspoon, unsweetened applesauce is a great substitute for oil and allows you to have your brownie without the guilt. When substituting applesauce for oil in baking, it is a 1:1 ratio, 1/4 cup applesauce for 1/4 cup oil. Your brownies will be moist, chewy and better for you.

Try these treats for your Super Bowl viewing this Sunday. Your family members who are focused on eating healthier will appreciate it, and those who don’t will never know the difference, because they taste so good!

Flatbread Veggie Explosion Pizza

This heart healthy pizza will make the football fans go crazy. Get creative with your favorite veggies and be sure to make more than one!
Makes: 1 pizza is six pieces, and three servings
Total Time: 30 minutes

3/4 cup green, red and/or yellow peppers, sliced in thin strips
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup of sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 flat bread (often called Naan bread)
Approximately ¼ can of pizza sauce (I prefer Cento)
1 cup baby spinach
Fresh basil, washed and ribbon cut (optional, but so good)
3 slices of Canadian Bacon, cut to bite sized pieces (optional)
Approximately 4 ounces low-fat Mozzarella cheese

1. Sauté the peppers and olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat until they are slightly soft; about 5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, lightly tossing everything.
4. While the veggies are cooking, place the flat bread on a cooking sheet or pizza baking pan. Cover with the pizza sauce.
5. Add the cooked veggies, being careful to drain any liquid that has accumulated in the pan while cooking.
6. Add spinach, basil and bacon to the top.
7. Add cheese to the top.
8. Bake at 400 degrees in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until crust is crisp and cheese is melted (or grill on lowest setting).
9. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Chunky Guacamole with Baked Pita Chips

Makes approximately 3 cups of guacamole. Total time: 20 minutes


4 ripe avocados, skinned, pitted and diced
1 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, or 1 can Rotel Diced Tomatoes
½ cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup sweet or red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
Juice of 1-2 limes, depending on how juicy
Fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely (optional, but really makes the recipe better)
¼ teaspoon salt, if desired

Pita Chips:
1 package of Pita bread (white or whole wheat)
Approximately 2 tablespoon olive oil
Garlic powder
Finely ground sea salt, optional


1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, cube and put in a bowl. Mash slightly with a fork.
2. Add all of the other guacamole ingredients and toss gently to mix.
3. Cut pita bread into triangles and lay on a cookie sheet.
4. Brush lightly with olive oil on both sides.
5. Sprinkle on one side with garlic powder and a bit of salt.
6. Bake at 350 degrees. When chips are crisp on one side, flip them. Each side takes about 10 minutes; once cool, store in an airtight container.

Stacey Kendrick, MS, is a health educator with more than 20 years of experience in wellness and population health. She spent much of her career at Vanderbilt’s Faculty/Staff Wellness Program and in Strategic Marketing at VUMC. She is mother to two adult daughters. In her free time, she teaches healthy cooking classes, runs, gardens and enjoys backyard bonfires.