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Prairie Fare: Don’t Fumble as You Plan Super Bowl Snacks

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
Researchers have noted that people may eat and drink much more when there are no visual clues about how much has been eaten.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“I’m planning to write a column about snacks for the Super Bowl. Do you have any favorites?” I asked a male friend, a major football fan.

“Yes, I have a favorite, but I wouldn’t say it’s a healthy snack,” he said.

“What is it?” his wife asked, looking a little puzzled.

“You know. I like those chicken wings. We have some in the freezer,” he said.

“Well, you can make them healthier. Just bake them and serve with fat-free barbecue sauce,” she said.

He didn’t look convinced about the recipe makeover.

His comment about chicken wings and football games rang a bell. I quickly located a study done by Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink and Collin Payne.

The researchers invited 50 graduate students to a Super Bowl party with an all-you-can-eat snack buffet. Chicken wings were on the menu.

As the students munched, the researchers had the servers clear chicken bones from half of the tables. Other tables were left with piles of chicken bones.

The people at the cleared tables ate about seven wings per person. The people whose chicken bones accumulated on their tables ate about five wings per person.

Perhaps having a pile of chicken bones on the table provided a visual, somewhat unappetizing clue that they should stop eating.

The researchers also noted that the same idea might hold true for beverages. If empty beverage containers are cleared from your table, you may forget how much you have consumed.

I suppose your mental alertness also depends on what beverage you are consuming.

Overall, researchers have noted that people may eat and drink much more when there are no visual clues about how much has been eaten.

Bottom line: Maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about keeping our tables tidy during snacking. We should leave those containers, bones and other residues in sight so we can keep a running tally on our consumption.

Wansink and Payne also studied serving container sizes. They observed that people take less food from a smaller bowl.

This strategy potentially has budget benefits and health benefits.

So, if you want to ration your “treats,” use a smaller bowl. If you want people to eat more of a healthful food, such as fruits and vegetables, consider filling a larger serving bowl.

Be sure to provide plates, too. People eat more chips and cookies from a bag or box.

Put this research to work during Super Bowl parties or any other time. If you like alcoholic beverages during game time, consider light beer, which has fewer calories. Try alternating calorie-containing beverages with an equal amount of water. Ice water quenches thirst quite nicely.

Try these healthful and tasty snack ideas:

  • Crunchy apple or pear slices with low-fat yogurt as a dip
  • Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruits and fiber-rich cereal
  • Crisp veggies, such as carrots, red and green pepper strips and broccoli
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Popcorn (without a lot of butter and salt)
  • Pretzels with honey mustard sauce
  • Salsa or homemade bean dip with baked chips - Make your own baked chips by cutting corn tortillas into wedges, spraying with nonstick cooking spray and baking in the oven until crisp.

If you’re a garlic lover, try this fiber-rich inexpensive recipe for a change of pace.

White Bean Dip

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or can substitute Great Northern or navy beans)

4 tsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. water

1/8 tsp. salt (or to taste)

1/8 tsp. pepper (or to taste)

1/2 tsp. cumin or chili powder (optional, or to taste) Paprika (optional, as garnish)

Carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber rounds, green and red pepper strips

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic, stirring constantly until the garlic begins to turn golden in one to two minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic-olive oil mixture, beans and lemon juice. Process until smooth, slowly adding 1 to 2 Tbsp. of water to obtain a thick, creamy consistency. Season to taste. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Serve with fresh vegetables or baked chips.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 90 calories, 2 grams (g) of fat, 14 g of carbohydrate and 3 g of fiber.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
Prairie Fare: Prairie Fare: Looking Back on Nutrition and Other Trends in the Last 40 Years  (2019-04-18)  Though nutrition recommendations have changed over the years, moderation is still key.  FULL STORY
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