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Heart-healthy Super Bowl recipes

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Throw a healthy Superbowl bash

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party this year and want to stick to your New Year's diet resolutions, prepare recipes that please the hardcore Super Bowl food fans as well as your waistline-conscious, health-minded guests. In honor of American Heart Month, the Super Bowl is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a few heart-healthy eats that everyone will love.

Superbowl Party

Heart-healthy Super Bowl party tips

1. Avoid Unhealthful Fats

Traditional Super Bowl Sunday foods are often deep fried or made with unhealthful saturated or trans fats. As you are setting your Super Bowl party menu, choose foods made with heart-healthful fats or plan to swap out the unhealthful fats in classic football party recipes. For example, olive and canola oil or trans fat-free margarine are better choices than butter, lard or cream. You can bake -- instead of deep fry -- breaded chicken fingers to significantly reduce their fat and calories. You can also substitute trans fat-free margarine for butter in cookies or cakes to keep sweets a little more heart friendly.

2. Go for lean protein

Meats are an especially big part of Super Bowl dishes. Sticking with leaner meats like skinless chicken breasts or lean cuts of beef or pork will help reduce the fat and calories of your football party fare. And if you just have to have burgers at your Super Bowl gathering, make mini burgers; they will satisfy your burger craving in two or three bites.

3. Opt for succulent seafood

Fatty fishes such as salmon and tuna steaks are great heart-healthful choices and can even be pureed into dips.

4. Venture into vegetarian fare

Beans and legumes are terrific choices for side dishes or used as the base of a low-fat vegetarian chili. In place of high-fat meats or dairy products, choose low-fat cheese, yogurt, milk or soy products. Toss low-fat cheese on pizza or burgers and use low-fat yogurt for dips.

5. Serve Plenty of Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are always heart-healthful options -- unless they are drowning in high-fat dressings or deep fried. Serving a fruit and vegetable tray with a few low-fat dips is a tasty low-calorie way to fill up. Baked fruit, such as baked apples topped with a little cinnamon sugar, or a fruit salad dressed with fresh lime juice or low-fat yogurt are also heart-healthful treats.

6. Cut the salt

Instead of eating piles of sodium-laden potato chips at your Super Bowl party, pair whole-wheat crackers, whole-grain bread or vegetables with the dips. A more healthful alternative to high-salt, store-bought potato chips is to bake your own chips using pitas or thinly sliced potatoes; you can control the sodium and fat if you make your own. You also can satisfy the craving for a flavorful crunch with air-popped popcorn sprayed with cooking spray and seasoned with a little salt or grated Parmesan cheese.

7. Everything in Moderation

Enjoying everything in moderation -- even low-fat, low-calorie foods -- is the real secret to making your Super Bowl party a healthy affair. Set limits for yourself before the party starts and stick to them. Allow yourself a little taste of everything, but don't go overboard. Most important, eat only if you are hungry and stop once you are full. Eating slowly and drinking lots of water will help keep you mindful and prevent a Super Bowl binge.

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