Healthy Game Day Snacks

Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

With the big game approaching, we’ve got you covered with some healthy Super Bowl snacks that deliver big on both health and flavor. Game day favorites like classic nachos and pizza are guaranteed party hits, but are not traditionally the most nutritious. Our quick and easy zucchini pizza bites and mushroom and spinach nachos are the perfect appetizers the entire family will love.

Our nacho recipe utilizes simple swaps to boost the nutrients and balance out the sodium without losing any of the delicious flavors and textures we expect from nachos. With the addition of fresh vegetables and protein-packed beans, this classic game day snack turns into a healthful delight. And our tasty pizza bites have a crispy zucchini “crust” that provides a satisfying base that also gives your body a dose of metabolism-boosting fiber. The zucchini is perfectly paired with vibrant spinach and herbs, tangy tomato sauce and topped with gooey mozzarella. So skip the processed pizza rolls and fake nacho cheese and enjoy these easy, delicious, nutritious finger foods to enjoy during the big game.

Mushroom and Spinach Nachos 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon high heat oil (avocado, grapeseed)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed (if using canned look for BPA free. Best to get beans in glass or a pouch)
  • Large bag tortilla chips
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese (optional) or you can use vegan cheese sauce*
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
  • Top with chopped green onions, tomatoes and avocado
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a little high heat oil and add the onions and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. 
  4. Add the spinach, cover and lower the heat to low to allow the spinach to wilt. Once spinach is wilted, remove from heat.
  5. Place the chips on a large rimmed baking sheet and evenly spread the vegetable mixture over the chips.
  6. Top with beans, cheese or vegan cheese sauce and the jalapeno.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until everything is bubbly and golden.
  8. Top with green onions, tomatoes and avocado, if desired, and serve immediately.

 

*Vegan Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup carrots, diced
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

Boil potatoes and carrots for about 20 minutes until very soft.

Drain and add them to a blender with all remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

 

Zucchini Pizza Bites
Ingredients
  • 3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2” rounds
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 4 ounce cream cheese
  •  2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup fresh cooked or frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
 Directions
  1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil the bottom.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, mozzarella, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the Italian seasoning with the tomato sauce.
  5. Place zucchini in a single layer on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil.
  6. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on zucchini and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until the top has browned and zucchini has crisped up.

*Try replacing the zucchini with eggplant or portabello mushrooms.

*These can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 2 days or freezer for 1 month and then baked after thawing completely.


Nutrient highlights for both recipes

SpinachGreens such as kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, arugula, and chard have been shown to protect bones from osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, support a healthy gut, strengthen the immune system, protect cognition and supply a high amount of antioxidants.  They are considered to be among some of the best cancer-preventing foods.

Mushrooms: Make sure to cook your mushrooms to increase digestibility, degrade a possible toxic compound found in raw mushrooms and release nutrients that are stored in their thick cellular walls. Mushrooms are a very good source of dietary fiber (beta glucan), and one of the only foods that can store vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  They contain anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in minerals such as selenium (an antioxidant). Their high potassium content can balance out sodium in the body.

Tomato Sauce: A great source of lycopene that helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and protects skin integrity. Cooking tomatoes in a healthy fat (such as olive or avocado oil) increases the amount of available lycopene that the body will absorb.

Zucchini: Nutrient-dense vegetable packed full of fiber and water that aids in digestive health. The insoluble fiber helps us stay regular and the soluble fiber is a “prebiotic” food for the good bacteria to promote a healthy gut. This vegetable’s high amount of zeaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant) also plays a role in preventing oxidative stress to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Garlic and Onions: Considered prebiotics, meaning they feed the “good” bacteria in our gut and promote a healthy digestive system. Research supports that compounds in both garlic and onions, such as allicin, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cardioprotective properties.

Italian Herbs: Contain a range of protective vitamins such as Vitamins A, C, and K, and are packed full of antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress in the body. Such antioxidants are lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin, which are known to reduce the risk of cancer, prevent age-related macular degeneration, detoxify the body, improve digestion, reduce stress and support liver health.

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