Saturday, October 31, 2009

Game Day Munchies!

My large extended family are dedicated fans of college football. Although we may cheer for different teams on any given Saturday, we all enjoy the weekly watching parties that accompany the games. It's too easy to overeat when your attention is on the TV screen, so it's a good idea to plan ahead and provide finger foods that are nutritious and fun to eat. Put out some sliced apples or pears sprinkled with cinnamon and you'll see the fans gobble them up! Here are a couple of my favorite healthy party appetizers that are easy to prepare and delicious. They're perfect for any occasion, so keep them in mind for the upcoming holiday season. Go team!

Spinach Pepper Jack Dip
(Makes ten ¼ cup servings)

1 can condensed Cream of Celery Soup
¼ teaspoon pepper
One 10 oz. frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (or Mexican Blend with spices)
½ cup light sour cream
¼ teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)
2-3 dashes of Tabasco sauce or to taste

1. In a medium sauce pan, heat soup, pepper, and spinach on medium-high heat to a boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add cheese, stir until melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

2. Add sour cream and cayenne, stir to combine. Sample mixture to check spice level. If you like it hotter, add Tabasco sauce to taste. Serve with a variety of raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli florets, and cauliflower. This also is a great dip for my Oven Fried Spicy Chicken Nuggets (see recipe below).

Nutritional Information per ¼ cup dip (vegetables not included in calculations): 104.8 calories, 6.1 g carbohydrate, 6.7 g total fat, 2.9 g saturated fat, 1.1 g fiber, 4.1 g protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

Oven Fried Spicy Chicken Nuggets
(Makes eight appetizer servings of 3 nuggets each)

12 chicken tenders (cut each in half)
½ cup whole wheat style Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon onion salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Dash of cayenne (ground red pepper)
½ teaspoon smoked Paprika
1½ tablespoon olive oil (or use oil in a Misto pump sprayer)

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Drizzle ¾ tablespoon olive oil onto a baking sheet and place in oven until hot.

2. Meanwhile, place panko, cheese, onion salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika into a large food storage bag and shake to combine. Remove baking pan from oven and tilt to coat pan with hot oil. Add a few pieces of chicken to the breadcrumb mixture at a time and shake until chicken is lightly coated. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Carefully arrange them on the hot baking sheet in a single layer without pieces touching. Drizzle remaining ¾ tablespoon oil over chicken and bake for 10 minutes. (If you have a Misto pump, spray oil to coat top of chicken.)

3. After 10 minutes, remove pan from oven and turn chicken over to brown second side. Bake for another 8 minutes until chicken is cooked through and crispy. If necessary, remove chicken to paper towels to drain briefly before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (3 nuggets): 94.7 calories, 3.5 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g total fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0.5 g fiber, 12.2 g protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

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