Roundball madness that afflicts us in March can round out our hips if we're not careful.
Those of us who aren't traveling with our favorite teams on the road to the Final Four will be partying with our friends at home in front of our TVs. Instead of putting out the fattening chips and dips, serve some dishes that offer a dose of nutrition. Tell your beer-drinkin' buddies it's required for National Nutrition Month.
Salsa is a great low-fat option anytime, and blueberry salsa also has lots of antioxidant power. For a touch of fusion, serve Asian chicken tacos, which fit into a carb-conscious diet, as well as a low-fat program.
When you serve potatoes as the base for nachos, you're getting a healthy dose of potassium and vitamin C. One potato contains 3 grams of fiber and it's not loaded with sodium like chips are.
Fried foods are party favorites, but you can have a healthy version by "frying" foods in the oven or pan in a minimum of oil. Crab cakes, which begin with a naturally low-fat food, don't need to be submerged in a deep-fat fryer to have great flavor.
So when you have friends in to watch the game, or if you plan a party for the Final Four, opt for healthy dishes.
ASIAN CHICKEN 'TACOS' IN LETTUCE WRAPS
1/2 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
4 teaspoons green onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons bamboo shoots, sliced thin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Asian taco sauce (recipe follows)
6 pieces of iceberg lettuce (or leafy lettuce of choice), each piece about 4 inches by 4 inches
To garnish (per individual taco):
1 tablespoon bean sprouts
2 teaspoons cucumber, sliced thin
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
In medium-size skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add chicken, stirring to break up the pieces. Add the onion, garlic and green onion; cook until onion starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add bamboo shoots, salt, pepper and Asian taco sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce coats chicken well and chicken is cooked throughout, about 2 minutes. Spoon into the lettuce leaves and garnish. Makes 6 "tacos," 3 tacos per serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 365 calories; 21 g. fat; 4 g. saturated fat; 18 g. carbohydrate; 2.5 g. fiber.
ASIAN TACO SAUCE
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons wheat flour mixed in 1 tablespoon cold water (to thicken sauce)
In medium saucepan over medium heat, warm oil. Add ginger, garlic and onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and slightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add chili garlic sauce, chicken broth, soy sauce, honey, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and pepper. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, then stir in wheat flour mixture and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook additional 1-2 minutes. Use as needed; save remaining sauce for future use.
Recipe from National Chicken Council
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning blend
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1/4 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons canned diced green chilies
Salsa, guacamole and sour cream, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Place potatoes into a medium-size bowl with the oil, garlic salt and Mexican seasoning. Stir well to coat potatoes with oil and seasonings. Transfer to a large baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring several times, until crisp and golden brown. Top with cheese, beans, tomatoes, olives, onions and chilies. Bake for five minutes more to melt cheese. Serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 308 calories, 13 g. protein, 35 g. carbohydrate, 16 g. total fat, 32 mg. cholesterol, 659 mg. sodium, 5 g. fiber.
Recipe from United States Potato Board
PEPPERED BLUEBERRY SALSA
1 can (14 to 15 ounces) blueberries in light syrup, drained
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
2 tablespoons canned green chili pepper (mild or hot) or 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, parsley or mint, chopped (loosely packed)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Pinch of salt
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients; blend gently. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to let flavors blend. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Makes 5 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 0 g. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 45 mg. sodium, 15 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. protein.
Recipe from Canned Food Alliance