Upwards of 100 million viewers will tune in to watch a professional sporting event this winter and spring season. As the fans wait for those historic moments of triumph and dramatic play-by-play recaps, they also partake in a celebration of food and feasting at halftime, and throughout the game.
Wings, onion rings, fries and potato skins get a lot of play when it comes to deciding what to serve for the big game. But there’s more to be said in favor of munching on a wholesome game-time snack, where the only numbers you need to worry about are on the scoreboard, rather than the calories on a nutrition label.
Whether you’re snacking through the biggest football kick-off of the year or an epic college basketball match-up — score big with lower-calorie, game-day snacks that won’t crush your passion, but will keep you fueled up for the game-winning play. Consider including these game-time snacking rituals next time you’re getting ready for the big game.
With the crunchy texture, flavor options and popularity as a favored dipping item over cut veggies, chips seem like a no-brainer as a salty game-time snack. But a 1-ounce serving of plain potato chips (and who eats just one ounce of anything?) contains about 159 calories — most of them from fat — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database. With the length of a professional sporting event lasting at least three hours, those calories add up.
By contrast, the same serving size of standard Mini, Sticks or Nibbler pretzels contains 120 calories or less and almost no fat. Replacing chips with pretzels offers all the same taste and texture benefits with significantly fewer calories. Pretzels pack a powerful crunch, and thanks to pretzel pioneers like Snyder’s of Hanover, they are available in a variety of flavors, shapes and sizes, such as traditional Sourdough Hard pretzels, Sticks or Mini Pretzels.
Try game-ready flavors like Honey Mustard & Onion; Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Pieces, or Spicy Cheddar Pretzel Sandwiches. Mix tastes with new Snyder’s of Hanover Flavor Doubles available in either Hot Buffalo Wing & Buttermilk Ranch or Cheddar Cheese & Cracked Pepper. As a lower-calorie option, pretzels help balance the calories between snack and dip, while still offering a punch of zesty flavor that’s far from boring.
Discovering the fun of dipping usually begins in childhood, when ketchup, ranch dressing and honey mustard become persuasion enough to eat a host of otherwise less yummy foods served by parents. As adults, overzealous dipping in high-calorie, high-fat, creamy dips can really sandbag efforts to eat healthier.
By scooping up lighter spreads, grown-ups can get back in touch with the joy of childhood dipping and still enjoy great taste. Explore lower-calorie dip options such as salsa (which comes in a variety of flavors, not just plain tomato), yogurt-based alternatives, hummus, and even dips made with lower-fat or fat-free sour cream or mayonnaise. Or, use Greek yogurt as a replacement to mayonnaise.
Punch up the taste of any low-calorie dip base by adding a variety of seasonings that contribute flavor without adding calories or fat.
Some snack foods are just too good to give up on altogether, so it makes sense to look for lighter versions of popular favorites. Sometimes, small alterations can yield significant caloric savings. For example, in a serving of deviled eggs—a big winner on any appetizer or snack table— use half the yolks, light mayonnaise instead of full-fat, and enhancements such as finely diced red onion, green bell pepper, or even ham or crab to add texture, volume and flavor — all with less fat.
Can’t face game-day without traditional wings or potato skins? Try baking the wings instead of frying them, and make your own buffalo sauce using lighter ingredients such as artificial sweetener or orange juice instead of sugar. It’s the cheese and bacon bits atop potato skins that send this favorite snack into the caloric stratosphere, so top the skins with lighter options like fat-free cheese, low-fat sour cream and veggies.
The most historic professional sports contest ever played could be right around the corner, and it pays to have a plan in place to manage the inevitable game-day munchies. By choosing healthier snacking options ahead of time, it will be easier to keep an eye on the ball when it comes to giving your favorite team the loyal attention they deserve.