Super Food for Super Bowl

Taylor’s Chili

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Clearly Super Bowl is more about food than football, constituting the second biggest eating occasion after Thanksgiving. According to the Calorie Control Council , “Americans will eat 30 million pounds of snacks and enough fat to equal the weight of 13,000 NFL offensive linemen this coming Super Bowl Sunday.”

The good news is not everyone is gorging on chicken wings and meat-stuffed pizza. An article in The Wall Street Journal February 2, 2012 reports that Super Bowl is the biggest single event of the year for carrot sales. With all those carrots go dips and spreads, which can be nutrient-rich if you stick with the salsas, hummus and other bean dips or creamy dips you make yourself based on fat-free or reduced-fat dairy, mayo or other ingredients. There will be fewer beer bellies attributed to the occasion, too. The article points out that Super Bowl is not the biggest day for beer inake – and what is consumed is probably light beer as Bud and Coors Light are ranked tops in overall consumption.

Guacamole is hugely popular, with 71.4 million pounds of avocados expected to be consumed Sunday. When eaten in moderation, guacamole is a healthful party food, because avocados are rich in good (monounsaturated) fats and other vitamins and minerals. (Don’t forget to use baked chips or vegetables for dipping.)

Probably the worst thing about “Super Bowl nutrition” (perhaps an oxymoron) is that eating while watching TV is a form of “mindless eating,” a no-no if you’re trying to improve your diet, lose or manage your weight. Research shows that when we eat while distracted (by TV, movies, reading or socializing for example) we tend to consume more and are less satisfied than when we give eating our full attention.

If you started 2012 with a resolution to improve your diet, you don’t need to give it up to party on Super Bowl Sunday. Here are some of my favorite foods that won’t unravel your goals:

  • Add a platter of fresh sliced or bite-size fruit and a separate platter of colorful vegetables to your table.
  • Don’t forget the popcorn – a healthful whole grain just about everyone likes. Pop your own in an air popper or using a healthful fat – my favorite is olive oil. Forget the salt or use a small sprinkle of your favorite gourmet, flavored sea salt.
  • Build your party around a pot of Chili (recipe below) with a selection of garnishes: several types of shredded cheese, black olives, sliced radishes, cilantro, light sour cream, sliced onions and sliced fresh jalapenos. Serve in warm tortillas and wrap burrito-style or in bowls with a side of baked tortilla chips.
  • Pace your intake. Fill a plate with food rather than standing at a table and grazing. Take foods and portion sizes you will enjoy.
  • If your team is losing – don’t console yourself at the food table – that’s called “emotional eating” and can “do-in” any diet. Vocalize your thoughts, as my husband does, or better yet, take a walk and burn off a few Super Bowl calories.

Taylor’s Chili
The only reason I committed this recipe to type is because my son Taylor’s 2nd grade teacher assigned the students to make a recipe with a parent once a week to improve reading and math skills. To my surprise, over the years, I’ve pulled it out many times to answer comfort food requests. If the quantity seems large, know that chili freezes well. For sophisticated chili palates, go beyond prepared chili powder and play with a combination of ground dried chilies such as chipotle (smoked jalapeno) ancho, California or guajillo – but be aware that some pack a lot of heat.


For step 1:
1tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 ready-to-use lean sausages, chopped

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 to 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

For step 2:
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

For step 3:
6 cups cooked black, pinto, kidney or other beans (or combination) or 4 cans (about 15 ounces each) beans, drained

1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes

1 can (28-ounce) diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 bottle or can (12-ounce) beer, tomato juice or water

2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional)

For step 4:
3 to 4 tablespoons masa harina or cornmeal (optional)

Salt, to taste (optional)


1. In a large Dutch oven, combine oil, onion, sausage, bell pepper and carrot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft.

2. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook and stir until fragrant.

3. Stir in beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (with juices), beer, oregano and chipotle pepper. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

4. If chili is too thin, remove cover and continue to simmer until reduced to desired consistency. Or, sprinkle in masa harina or cornmeal and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to thicken. Taste and add salt, if needed. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2012

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


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