Thursday, January 29, 2015

Health OK Super Bowl snacks, 2015....

Today's Post:  Thursday, 1-29-2015

This is an updated edition of our post from this time last year, 2014 & going back to 2008.

Why are health OK snacks so important?

It's not just at the time the Super Bowl happens each year about now that people eat snacks.

Many people make snacks as much as a quarter or a fifth of all their weekly food. Some go to a full third of the calories they eat.

The other factor is that the health damaging snack foods are some of the very worst foods people eat while the health OK snack foods are actually good for you or at least not that bad.

That means that hosting or taking snacks pot luck style to a Super Bowl party is a chance to try
out health OK snacks yourself & introduce them to your friends & family.

Dips:   (We list several health OK dips at the end of this section.  But first we say why to be sure NOT to use virtually all store bought dips!)

First, let's literally dispose of one category of what NOT to use. One year, my wife & I were taking snacks to my parent's house. I knew that two things to use to dip snacks into that are actually good for you & taste great are guacamole & hummus. But my wife wanted to bring some traditional dips as well. I went to an upscale grocery store in our area & went to that section.

Ouch !!

Even there, there were no health OK choices at all.

Every one of the commercially made up dips (except the guacamole) they stocked had partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) or high fructose corn syrup with some having both. 

Those are both now known to be heart attack starters!  And, the high fructose corn syrup also is a proven fattener!

(In case you don't yet know, partially hydrogenated oils-- which contain trans fats -- & high fructose corn syrup are avoidable health poisons that are not yet completely outlawed & out of our foods.

Trans fats are literally cardiovascular disease & heart attack starters. They have the same kind of effect as using lighter fluid to start up charcoal for a BBQ. The safe amount of those to eat is zero, absolutely none. (Trans fat causes your LDL to become the tiny particles that go into the cracks in your artery walls, build up, and then restrict or block blood flow!)

2013 New information: 

Manmade hydrogenated oils and the trans fats connected with them are so hard for your body to clear, you only clear half of what you eat within a couple of weeks or more as shown by research.


Guess what that means?

If you allow yourself just a little bit of foods containing them but most days, after a couple of weeks, there is enough of them in your system to cause heart disease and cause your blood lipids like HDL and LDL cholesterol  to show much worse readings.

It’s likely ten times as protective to NOT eat any of this junk ever -- as it is to take statin drugs AND that’s if you are one of few people in the genetic type they give some protection to!

Do NOT buy or eat such dips! 

You and your friends at your Super Bowl party will be far safer without eating hydrogenated oils. 

And, you’ll help penalize the folks who put heart attack starter in their foods!

High fructose corn syrup is not quite that bad we wrote before.  Oops!

New information for 2013:  High fructose corn syrup IS heart attack starter too!

New research shows that high triglycerides are more likely to help cause heart attacks, strokes, and deaths than high LDL cholesterol.

Guess what food component makes triglycerides go up the most?

Yep, it’s high fructose corn syrup!  From the research I’ve read it does this more than regular sugar AND so far, people still eat or drink HUGE amounts of it.

So ingesting high fructose corn syrup doesn’t just help cause 2 diabetes and we now know it’s the most effective fattener known new research found this year* --
high fructose corn syrup is a very effective heart attack starter too!

(Sugar lowers your appetite so you may eat a bit less before the rebound hunger it causes kicks in. 

Brain scans show that eating or drinking high fructose corn syrup does NOT register to lower your appetite and may even boost it a bit and then you still get the rebound hunger later too!)

2014:  New research found that free fructose in high fructose corn syrup and agave nectar does in fact cause you to eat more and not turn down hunger as much as real sugar or food to do this.

(And there’s more, about 30% of the high fructose corn syrup contains mercury, a nerve toxin that can cause Alzheimer’s like symptoms!)

So, to be sure my wife & I don't eat high fructose corn syrup in quantity or eat any that contains mercury, we do not eat it all. We also are doing our part to boycott an unsafe food additive by doing that.

(As of 2008, between 30 % and 55% of the products, including name brands, that contain high fructose corn syrup also contain mercury because a mercury compound is use to make the high fructose corn syrup used in those products.  Also note, if high fructose corn syrup is listed first or second on the ingredients list, it’s more likely the product contains mercury.

2015 update:  Since it has NOT been in the news that this has been fixed, I seriously doubt that it has been fixed.

So we currently recommend you completely avoid buying or ingesting high fructose corn syrup.)

So, for dips at this writing, you have three health OK choices: buy guacamole; buy hummus: or make your own dips.

Health OK components to consider running through a blender or adding to after you run the blender to make health OK dips are salsa, cooked pinto beans, cooked black-eyed peas, regular baked beans, hummus, nonfat yogurt or Maple Hill full fat yogurt from cows that are grass instead of grain fed, frozen chopped spinach, chopped onion, extra virgin olive oil, chili powder, & chopped cilantro.  For some dips, garlic cloves work or if you want to not have it that garlicky, use a bit of garlic powder spice.

You can also make a somewhat healthier dip by substituting one of these for part of the sour cream in sour cream based dip recipes. A half hummus, half sour cream recipe would have half the omega 6 oils of a full sour cream recipe if from grain fed cow. But it would taste richer than a hummus only version.

2008 addition:  Real sour cream is not exactly a health food due to its high saturated fat content. 

2015 addition:  The saturated fat is now thought not to be an issue!

But if the sour cream is from cows fed GMO grains high in omega 6 oils and complete with herbicides and pesticide residue in the fat, eating less is a good idea!

So Maple Hill full fat yogurt from cows that are grass instead of grain fed and a bit of apple cider vinegar for half and hummus with no oil or with olive oil half and half would be better than sour cream from grain fed cows used in this half and half dip.

Almost anything compared with dips with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil almost IS a health food by comparison.  As an occasional dip treat, we found that real sour cream with a good bit of a good quality, multiple ingredient, curry powder makes a great dip.  Again trying this with Maple Hill full fat yogurt from cows that are grass instead of grain fed and a bit of apple cider vinegar is even better.  (Whole Foods carries Maple Hill full fat yogurt from cows that are grass instead of grain fed.)

We’ve taken to bringing 3 dips when asked to provide them:  Hummus, guacamole, and this curried dip.  I particularly like having about 2 or 3 fresh veggies with each of the three dips.  That way, I get a lot of the fresh veggies and two thirds of the dips are actually good for me to eat.

With the Maple Hill full fat yogurt from cows that are grass instead of grain fed and a bit of apple cider vinegar instead of sour cream, that now is all three dips!

Crunchy foods:

People often use crackers for crunchy snack foods. This is an extremely bad idea.

Commercial crackers today still tend to use partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats). Almost as bad, they usually are badly over-salted and are made only or mostly from refined grains. About the only real food component they contain is calories. So eating them tends to make you fat.

2015 addition:  As bad as those are, the hybrid GMO wheat that is turned into refined flour to make these is possibly even worse!

So pass on crackers with ANY of these ingredients which is virtually all of them!

If for variety or for guests who would feel deprived, you would like to serve some crackers, there are two kinds that are almost OK.

Crostini makes an absolutely delicious cracker that is not too salty & uses olive oil instead of trans fats. They sell those at Whole Foods Market stores. They do use refined grains. But they taste good & avoid the other health damaging components.

Safeway & other major grocery chains carry RyKrisp or Rye Krisp crackers. At least one of their versions has no fat at all. These are almost a little too crunchy for my taste. But that's because they have whole grains, which are better for you. But be careful as one or more of the available versions DO have partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats). Just check the label to see which kind is OK & skip the other versions. The version that has NO fat at all is the health OK one – or almost OK at least.

2013 Update.  More recent information shows that wheat tends to be fattening and more and more people are going to wheat free or gluten free ways of eating.

Since I don’t eat crackers and my wife still is OK with nonfat crackers, I’ve not shopped for crackers that are gluten free yet.  The good news is that eating gluten free is now popular so there are gluten free crackers and likely Whole Foods carries several kinds.

And, the even better news is that because wheat has tons of gluten, every gluten free bread, cracker, cookie, etc is wheat free too!

2014 update, while it may be OK for onetime events like the Superbowl, both wheat AND gluten even in those not supersensitive to it tends to be fattening, so it is best to leave it out.

There are two ways to do that and still have a base for snacks that are usually on wheat bread or crackers.

You can peel and slice yams or sweet potatoes or even a larger zucchini on the diagonal and not too thick.  Then gently sauté them in extra virgin olive oil or fry them at low temperatures in coconut oil.

That works well to replace wheat crackers.

Another new option is to use a no wheat, high protein, high fiber bread called Paleo Bread.
Toasting this gently and then using half slices or quarter slices for snacks instead of wheat based crackers also works.

You can also do two versions one with the sliced vegetables and one with the Paleo bread.

So you now have two ways to do gluten free and relatively nonfattening snacks that used to take wheat crackers.

Chips:  Most potato chips and related snacks are messy to clean up after. 

People tend to massively overeat them.  And, this is true to such an extent that they wind up being as fattening as soft drinks in the people who eat them every week -- which is pretty bad!

They also are heavily over-salted. 

The real fans of one or the other of the teams will likely ramp up their blood pressure pulling for their team.  

They could do without super salty chips adding to the effect! So, the advice from here is to leave potato chips out totally.


Because some people are quite gravely & severely allergic to these, they are likely NOT a good idea for larger groups of people you don't know well. This kind of allergy to peanuts is so wide-spread now, we suggest you never serve peanuts or mixes containing them to people you don't know.

Only serve nuts to family or friends you know can eat nuts OK.

However, for people who can eat nuts safely, raw walnuts, raw pecans, & dry roasted almonds or slivered almonds are delightfully good crunchy snack foods. Even better, they have so many health benefits, that people who eat nuts regularly live several years longer than people who don't.

(I've found the best store for these to be Whole Foods Market stores. They carry these kinds of nuts in bulk & in packages -- both at reasonable prices.)

(Unfortunately, commercial nut mixes often do everything wrong.  

    We do NOT recommend those !! )

They often include peanuts because they are cheaper. They increase the shelf life by roasting them in partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) or in polyunsaturated oils like corn or soy oil that tend to break down at that temperature & contain excessive omega 6 oils.

Then they usually make them even less health OK by over-salting them. Yikes!)

Crunchy vegetables:

Raw Broccoli Florets; Cauliflower Florets, Celery sticks, & Carrot sticks work really well with dips.  If you can buy them as organic vegetables.  Whole Foods is great for this as they usually have most of these vegetables as organic vegetables!

2013 addition:

(Carrots are a superfood because they contain the most alpha carotene which we now know is one of the most effective causes of good health known.

But make your carrot sticks pretty thin -- about a fourth of an inch diameter or less.  The fatter ones can hurt your guest’s teeth if they bite into them too hard without chewing chunks off first.)

Radishes are also a nice change of pace. They are too small to dip well. But they are both crunchy & spicy.

Protein foods:

B & M Baked Beans are decent simply heated up & served. If you want totally vegetarian, Bushes makes a decent, pre-cooked Vegetarian baked beans. Both come canned at major grocery stores.

2013 addition:

(Canned beans are a bad idea for year round use due to BHA or worse kinds of  trial replacements in the linings getting into the food which is harmful and fattening.

You can cook beans from scratch and make your own baked beans.  But if you haven’t time, at this writing I THINK using canned beans very rarely for special occasions is OK.)

If you can afford them, real crab meat, lobster meat, & shrimp with the tails removed are all health OK choices.

(Just don't mix these into dips as some people are allergic to them. Served alone though, people can see what they are & avoid them if they are allergic.)

Cheeses are less health OK because of their sky high amounts of saturated fat – and if from grain fed cows, they are also too high in omega 6 oils.

2015 note:  The high saturated fat is now thought to be OK as long as the cows the cheese is made from are grass fed only.  Kerrygold Irish cheese is such a cheese; and some other cheeses from Europe also are.

But for special occasions only, they have no other health problems; they are easy to set out in bite sized pieces; they are available almost everywhere; & they come in many varieties with abundant flavor.

Other foods:

Another snack food that works really well is stuffed olives. They are a little too salty to eat at all often. But they are health OK otherwise. And many of the versions taste great. Pitted olives come with (or you can make them up to contain) sun dried tomato, blue cheese, feta cheese, garlic, blanched almonds, etc.)

Fresh strawberries that have been washed & green leaves & stems removed are an absolutely wonderful snack that is also really good for you to eat. Strawberries are best used only if organic as the not organic ones are quite heavily sprayed.


For non alcoholic drinks, Martinelli’s carbonated apple juice & carbonated apple cranberry juice are decent choices for special occasions. And, some people like, grape juice, orange juice, tomato juice, &/or V8 juice. You can also try 100 % cranberry juice mixed half and half with Martinelli’s or club soda for a lower glycemic and tarter but still festive drink.

(Drinking all kinds of sodas & soft drinks is so harmful to the health of so many people, I personally feel that they should never be bought or consumed even on special occasions.

If you feel differently though, drink as little of them as you can stand.

Here's why:

1.  They usually contain high fructose corn syrup*, sugar, or artificial sweeteners, a preservative that has been implicated as causing cancer and thyroid disease, artificial flavors, water & nothing else besides the carbonation. Only the water is good for you. Sugar is OK only in strict moderation. And the other junk tends to reliably make people fat & cause health problems. 

(See the previous comments about high fructose corn syrup -- and the mercury in it!)

2.  Diet soft drinks believe it or not are even more fattening and harmful to your health direct research has found. 

That sounds impossible doesn’t it? 

In addition to possible harm from the artificial sweeteners for some people, it seems that ingesting something that tastes really sweet with no sugar in it causes your body to lower your blood sugar when it started out not high.  You then have low blood sugar and begin to strongly  crave real sugar and the foods it’s in. 

This means that in practice drinking diet soft drinks acts as a powerful drug to make you eat even more sugar than you would have had you drunk a regular soft drink.  And, you’ll eat a LOT more than if you drank water or tea or coffee.

Would you take a drug that was an appetite booster for sugar and sugary foods so strong it was virtually irresistible? 

NO.  You likely would not if you didn’t want to get fatter and more likely to get type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If those are things you too would like to avoid, do NOT drink diet soft drinks!

Of the alcoholic beverages, red wine & dark beer -- actually have extra health benefits! And, beer is a traditional drink for watching football. Even better, there are a huge number of really good dark beers now available.

New last year:  I just found out that beers like Michelob Ultra and Molson Ultra taste as good as regular beer but with far lower sugar and carbohydrate content.  So if you want a beer that’s OK if you are trying to lose fat even at a party, those can be good choices.

Most alcoholic beverages, in fact, tend to boost HDL cholesterol.

But make sure to make the quantities small to moderate. Not only can people who drink too much cause problems at your party or get into an avoidable car accidents driving home, if they get into an accident where there is injury or significant property damage, as the host who served them too much alcohol, you can be sued in court.

For your own drinking, drink one or two early in the party and if you drink another have it be early in the second half.  The longer the time between when you drink and when you drive, the safer you are.

If you will drink or do wind up drinking more than that, take a cab or have someone drive you home

(I’ve found that two pints of dark beer early and then drinking hot chocolates after that keeps me feeling festive but hangover free the next day.)

I hope this post gives you some ideas as to what snacks to avoid year round & some that are either almost OK or are actually good for you to use instead.

2010 addition:

Some people serve chili at Super Bowl parties.  Here are three alternatives.:

1.  If you use exclusively beef from animals fed only grass, any good chili recipe you find or like is good at least on special occasions.  (Grain fed beef has excessive fat, saturated fat, omega 6 oils and tends to have pesticides and herbicides bioconcentrated in its fat.  Beef from cattle fed only grass is a bit more intense in flavor and avoids these problems.)

And, you can make up your own recipes. It’s not at all hard. Make one and taste it on Saturday; and if you like it or find it decent, save some to reheat and have during the Super Bowl.

2.  Use any kind of cooked beef you like that comes from cattle fed only grass.  Use hamburger, shredded cooked beef or chop cooked beef into quarter inch or a touch bigger cubes. 

Use any good tomato sauce or pasta sauce with no oil added plus the amount and kind of mild extra virgin olive oil you like.  (Or you can buy Muir Glenn pasta sauce at Whole Foods which, in its Four Cheese, Italian Herb, & Roasted Garlic & some other varieties has some olive oil; & it comes in glass bottles -- not canned where you have to worry about BPA.) I use Muir Glenn and then add some extra, extra virgin olive oil for a richer taste.  (Avoid any kinds, if you can, that use soy or canola oil.  Those have too much omega 6 oils.)

Then add a good chili powder.  Spice Islands and many other companies make these.  Add a bit and taste.  Then consider your likely guests in deciding how much to add or whether to add a bit of red pepper also.  The ideal is to make it spicy but not so harsh or hot that some people won’t like it.

(You can add, mild cooked green chilies, chopped onions sautéed in olive oil, mushrooms, etc.

And, you can set out several kinds of add-ons, diced sharp cheddar cheese, diced raw onions, mushrooms if you don’t include them in the chili, or diced, fresh, organic tomatoes.)

Simply stir the ingredients together over low to moderate heat until heated through and your chili is done.  (This presumes you cooked the meat first.  Or, you can put everything into a crock pot and run it on low for several hours which both cooks the meat without overheating it and melds the flavors together.)

Unless you have guests coming you know hate garlic, it also adds a lot of taste and health benefits to add it.  Use two or three or four cloves, depending how much chili you’re making,.  Then peel, dice, and crush them and stir them in after the chili is cooked and just before it’s served.

3.  You can also make 100% vegetarian chili.  You can substitute whole, cooked beans or blenderized, cooked beans or canned black eyed peas or canned cooked lentils for the grass fed beef.  You can even make it with hummus. If you add enough good tomato or pasta sauce, chili powder, extra virgin olive oil, and other spices the flavor is just as good as the grass fed beef version.  (I like the versions with the blenderized cooked beans as it’s smoother and easier to eat than the whole cooked, bean versions.)

From 2011: 

We do NOT recommend sandwiches on refined grain bread or chicken wings fried with a breaded and spicy sauce.  (Refined grain breads both fatten you and tend to harm your health.  They are nice for a kind of edible holder or temporary plate.  Use paper napkin or fork or a real plate instead!)

But skinless chicken thighs with or without the bone or the smaller part of chicken wing in the bone with the wing part removed before cooking where they are slow cooked with a spicy sauce or marinade can be served with paper napkins or forks if boneless and plates or small paper plates can work. 

Cooking them overnight in a crock pot works and blends in the flavor too.  Olive oil with garlic powder and red pepper to taste can work.  Coconut milk with diced garlic and diced, peeled ginger also works well.

You can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them after they are cooked into bite sized pieces and serve on plates with a small fork.

Or you can cook hamburger patties using grass fed beef and serve them Atkins style on plates with a fork.

Using garlic powder and a pinch of salt and adding a bit of olive oil to compensate for the grass fed beef being lean and add some dried sour cherries and diced onion before the patties are cooked and then cook them over moderate heat in a cast iron frying pan.

Annie’s Natural Foods makes a yellow mustard with no MSG and a ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup.  Both are also made with organic ingredients.

Last point.:

Super Bowl parties are a special event.  So, people will be watching the game.  Plus, this is one of the few times a year they watch the commercials.  So, it is understandable that they will eat while watching. 

Our recommendation is to not worry about this for the Super Bowl game.  If the snacks are health OK, stop there and let people enjoy the event.

But, one of the surest ways to get fat the rest of the year is to eat while watching TV!

Watching TV is fattening by itself, particularly if you watch over 15 hours a week. 

And, snacking even on health OK snacks tends to cause people to concentrate on the TV and just keep eating even though they are no longer hungry. 

People who do both AND drink soft drinks and eat fattening snacks while watching LOTS of TV are virtually all obese (very fat!)

So, THAT we do suggest avoiding!

From an earlier version of this post:

I read a good idea. 

Set up the table where food is served in a different room than the TV. 

That way people get a bit of a break from sitting to get food and they’ll eat a bit less.

A related non-food idea was if you have two TV’s and enough room, have a TV in one room for the serious fans and a second one in a room where people are there mostly to socialize.

Whether you bring things to a party or host one, I hope you enjoy the game!   

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