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The super healthy bowl

Beat the spread on Sunday with some less-fatty game day snacks

(Food styling by Sheryl Julian, Catherine Smart; Photo by Wendy Maeda/Globe staff)
By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / February 1, 2012
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The giant bags of chips and dips, wings and their sauces, and kettles of beefy chili that appear on tables everywhere on Game Day before kickoff - it’s enough to make health professionals shriek.

Oh, but it’s all so tempting. And everyone wants to spend the late afternoon and evening grazing and nibbling and these are the familiar and rather comforting hot, sweet, salty, rich, savory, and crisp elements that taste so satisfying.

So we are not here to dampen any enthusiasm with a dreary spread of Super Bowl snacks that are good for you. Instead, we decided to see if it’s possible to take a menu that’s ancient - well, 46 - and tweak it with healthy accents.

Simmering a chili with white and dark turkey meat was obvious, but roasted poblanos add a smokiness and intensity. Instead of Buffalo wings, we made the dish using white-meat chicken tenders, marinated them in Frank’s Hot Sauce with honey, garlic, and a splash of tequila, and stirred together a blue cheese sauce based on low-fat Greek yogurt. Marinating the chicken overnight and leaving the sauce to mellow for a day make both tenders and their dip truly delectable. The classic seven-layer dip is now five, with dark beans forming one layer, then cheese, salsa spiked with sriracha, more yogurt, and a topping of chopped pickles, olives, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Add two dips - a creamy hummus that turns bright green with frozen peas and another of spinach mixed with feta - and the table felt full.

For crackers, we used scissors to snip flat sheets of Middle Eastern lavash into several rectangular sizes (or do the same thing with large pita), sprinkled them with olive oil, salt, and crushed hot peppers, and toasted them until golden. They’re addictive.

The game is what should be heart-stopping, not the food.

Sheryl Julian can be reached at julian@globe.com.

To make Patriots logo crackers (a labor of love)

Use your browser to search for an online image of the New England Patriots logo. You want one that when printed out will be between about 6 and 12 inches wide. Images that are too small or too big can be resized in an image-editor such as Photoshop or Picasa, or even by copying and pasting the image into a Word document and adjusting the size by pulling on its corners. Since you only need an outline to trace, how sharp the image is doesn’t matter.

Cut out your image. This is a template to place on a piece of Middle Eastern lavash, or on one side of a large pita that has been separated into two rounds. Use scissors or the tip of a sharp knife to cut it out, following the template. Make one or many. Set them on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with oil and kosher salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes, checking often to make sure the edges do not burn.

Turkey chili with roasted poblano peppers

Serves 4

Char poblano peppers directly over a gas flame, or broil them, until the skin is blackened and blistered. They will peel easily and add a nice smoky element to the chili. In fact, a double batch of roasted peppers isn’t much more work and they freeze well for another day. Make the chili a day ahead, using whatever beer you plan to serve (or substitute chicken broth). The flavors mellow when the dish sits overnight.

4 poblano peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound each ground dark meat and light meat turkey

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bottle (12 ounces) lager or other beer

1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes

1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded light cheddar (for garnish)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1. Place poblano peppers directly over a medium-high flame on a gas burner, and heat each side until the skin is blackened and blistered. This takes about 10 minutes. Alternatively, set the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil about 6 inches from the element for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

2. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with an inverted plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and seeds. Coarsely chop the flesh.

3. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Brown the turkey, breaking up the meat with the edge of a large metal spoon, for 8 minutes.

4. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes more. Stir in the chili powder and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute more. Add the beer, tomatoes, beans, poblanos, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

6. Taste for seasoning and add black pepper, if you like.

7. Ladle into bowls and top with cheddar and cilantro or parsley.

Catherine Smart

5-layer dip

Serves 8

To keep the dip from becoming watery, let the salsa drain in a strainer set over a bowl for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2 cans (15 ounces each) red or black beans (or one of each), drained

1 bunch radishes, sliced

2 scallions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons oil

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded light cheddar

2 cups fresh salsa, drained for 1 hour

1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce

1 pound Greek yogurt, stirred well

1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped

8 tiny pickles (such as cornichon), chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet until golden

1. Have on hand a large bowl with a 2 1/2-quart capacity (a glass bowl works well).

2. In the bowl, combine the beans, radishes, scallions, parsley, salt, pepper, and oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

4. In another bowl, stir the salsa and sriracha together. Spoon the salsa onto the cheese.

5. Spoon the yogurt on top. Sprinkle with olives, pickles, parsley, and pumpkin seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Sheryl Julian

Green pea hummus

Serves 8

Frozen green peas lend pureed canned chickpeas their bright green color. Adjust the heat, if you like, adding more jalapeno to make a spicier spread.

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 package (10 ounces) frozen green peas

2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste

2 tablespoons water, or more to taste

Crushed red pepper (for sprinkling)

2 scallions, chopped

1. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the green peas for 2 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse with very cold water.

2. In a food processor, combine the green peas, chickpeas, garlic, jalapeno, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Pulse until chopped. Add the olive oil and water and puree until thick and blended. Add more water or olive oil, if necessary to make a smooth mixture. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and scallions. Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving. Lisa Zwirn

Buffalo chicken tenders with blue cheese dipping sauce

Serves 6

Leaner than chicken wings, these spicy chicken tenders, made with boneless breast meat, still pack lots of Buffalo flavor. You need Frank’s Red Hot original sauce for the chicken marinade. Mix it with honey, garlic, and tequila if you have some. Use a grill pan or slide the tray of tenders close to the broiler element. The blue cheese dipping sauce, based on low-fat Greek yogurt, is surprisingly light. You could substitute equal parts low-fat sour cream and yogurt to edge closer to a traditional dip. Add celery and carrot sticks.

CHICKEN

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot original sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons tequila (optional)

1. Cut the chicken into 2-inch-wide strips. Transfer to a bowl. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, hot sauce, honey, garlic, and tequila, if using. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for as long as overnight.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium heat or turn on the broiler and spread the chicken in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Grill or broil the chicken about 4 minutes on a side or until cooked through. When the chicken is done, baste it with the juices in the grill or broiler pan. Transfer to a plate.

SAUCE

1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 ounce crumbled blue cheese

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. In a bowl, stir the yogurt, vinegar, blue cheese, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.

2. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar, cheese, or salt, if you like. Serve with the chicken tenders.

Catherine Smart

Spinach and feta dip

Serves 6

Similar to retro spinach dips, this version is made with chopped frozen spinach, Greek yogurt, and crumbled feta.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1 cup (8 ounces) plain non-fat Greek yogurt

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds (for garnish)

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened. Add the spinach and turn up the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes or until the water from the spinach evaporates. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

2. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, feta, lemon juice, parsley, spinach, salt, and pepper. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice, if you like.

3. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.

4. In a dry skillet, toast the pine nuts or almonds until golden, shaking the pan constantly. Leave to cool. Sprinkle the feta mixture with the nuts.

Lisa Zwirn

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Our complete Super Bowl party planning guide

Our complete Super Bowl party planning guide

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