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I saw a Taco Bell commercial the other day that really annoyed me.  It showed a person attending a Superbowl party with a vegetable tray and the voiceover says that showing up to game day with veggies is a “cop out and people really hate you for it.”  Seriously?  I’ve placed a crudite tray with a tasty dip out plenty of times at my Superbowl gatherings and by halftime most of it is gone so I’m pretty sure nobody is hating me for serving it.  Aside from the silliness of this commercial, I know that the timing of Superbowl parties can conflict with staying on track with New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier.  Here’s the good news–they don’t have to!  There are plenty of healthy, yet delicious dishes you can serve at your big game party that both you and your guests will love.

Think about what is traditionally offered at Superbowl gatherings–lots of hearty, sometimes spicy foods that great for snacking and easily eaten–think “tailgate food.”  You want to stay within the same flavor range, just omit the high-fat, high-sodium and high-calorie portion of these traditional dishes.  So here’s where you can get creative.  Sloppy Joe’s are perfect for a Superbowl party, but instead of the usual version, try this Mushroom Beef Sloppy Joe on whole grain rolls that uses lean ground beef and mushrooms added to the recipe in order to cut down on fat and calories.

Mushroom Beef Sloppy Joe

Mushroom Beef Sloppy Joe

I’ll bet you never thought you’d find a healthy “potato skins,” but guess what–these Potato Skins w/Buffalo Chicken really are guilt-free!  Baking, using reduced fat ingredients and lots of spices are the trick.  If deviled eggs are a favorite at your parties, try increasing both their flavor and their nutrition with this Avocado & Cilantro Deviled Eggs version.

 

potato_skins_500

Potato Skins w/Buffalo Chicken

Is Tex-Mex on the menu?  Instead of the usual diet-busting fare, try these Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas or these delicious Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos.  Not only do these recipes have all the flavor of the typical taco/enchilada/quesadilla, they use fresh ingredients with different textures and colors that will impress your guests.

Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas

Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas

These are just a few ideas, check out the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Pinterest boards for more great recipes and ways you can incorporate fruits and vegetables into your game day celebration.  Oh, and you might even want to cut up some fresh veggies and serve a low-fat dip–it’s always worked for me!

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If you’re like me, January and February can be tough months to get through.  The days are cold, tend to be gray and I spend more time indoors than I prefer.  One shining spot during these winter months is the fact that citrus fruits are in season.  Quite frankly, it couldn’t be at a better time of year–I can’t think of another fruit or veggie that is as much of a “burst” of sunshine than a freshly cut orange or grapefruit!  Of course varieties of citrus are available year-round, but during the winter months they are at their peak of flavor and you can buy them at great prices since they are so plentiful.  In addition, certain varieties of citrus fruits are also available that you might not see at other times of the year such as Cara Cara navel oranges, Mandarin oranges, clementines and pummelos.

Aside from their fresh flavor and bright appearance, citrus fruit is a terrific addition to your winter diet due to their excellent source of Vitamin C, known to help boost our immune system and help combat illness.  This is especially helpful during the cold and flu season.  Eating whole citrus fruits are also a great source of fiber, which helps aid in digestion and keeps you feeling full.  This is key for everyone who made those New Year’s resolutions to reach or maintain a healthy weight.  Switching out one of your regular snacks with a clementine and a low-fat string cheese will cut calories and keep you feeling satisfied.

Mixed Greens w/Oranges & Beans

Mixed Greens w/Oranges & Beans

Another great way to use citrus fruit is for seasoning.  Lemon and lime juice, in particular, are wonderful for use in recipes.  In fact, lime juice can be used in place of salt for flavor–it provides the taste without the sodium!  Here’s a great video demonstrating the various ways to use lemon and lime juice in some of your recipes.  Adding the citrus fruit zest can also add flavor to baked goods or salad dressings.  And, speaking of salads, don’t limit yourself to using citrus fruits to only fruit salads.  Add sliced grapefruit to spinach salads or Mandarin oranges to other green salads.  Not only do they boost the nutrition, they also add an interesting twist to an old favorite.  Try Mixed Greens w/Fresh Oranges & White Beans or Broccoli Mandarin Orange Salad.

While adding citrus fruit might not make my winter go by faster, it does give me a little taste of the warmer days to come and I take advantage of the most flavorful citrus of the year.

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Kale is Fruits & Veggies–More Matters “veggie of the month” and it got me thinking about how much I love greens–ALL greens, kale included.  They’re so versatile and no matter what the season, they’re readily available in your supermarket’s produce section.  An added bonus is they’re super economical and packed with nutrition.  Did you know that 1 and 1/2 cups of shredded raw spinach contains the following recommended allowances of these nutrients: 20% dietary fiber, 70% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin C and 20% iron?  I guess Popeye knew what he was talking about!

The term “greens” covers many varieties–kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens and broccoli rabe are a few of the more common.  If you’re not familiar with them, these varieties while similar, have their own unique qualities.  For example, spinach tends to have a more “mellow” flavor and the leaves are tender, making them ideal for salads.  Turnip greens, collards and kale have a sharper flavor and can are great to use for soups and stews like this recipe for Beans & Greens Soup as their leaf consistency holds up better.  Broccoli rabe has a unique flavor, some say almost bitter, but it goes especially well with sauteed garlic. 

In reality, all varieties can be used in place of one another–it’s really a personal preference.  You’ll have to experiment and decide which kind of green you prefer using in a specific recipe.  One idea for using greens I want to share with you that I frequently use is preparing them with pasta.  I have done this using all of the above mentioned greens, but my favorite varieties to use for this are broccoli rabe or collard greens.  You can make this as a side dish or use it as a meatless main dish.  Hope you enjoy!

Greens & Pasta

1lb. box spaghetti or linguini (whole grain/wheat variety if possible)
5-6 cups of chopped collard greens or broccoli rabe
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/8 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese (sprinkled on top)

Cook spaghetti or linguini according to directions.  In the meantime, in a large pot add olive oil, garlic and greens over medium heat.  Saute and stir for 3 minutes and then cover.  Reduce heat to low and let cook, stirring every few minutes until the greens are cooked through and tender (the greens will cook down in size considerably).  Add cooked pasta and mix.  Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (optional).  Serve and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top right before serving. 
Serves 4-5 main meal servings or 7-8 side servings

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