On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans will devour 43.5 million pounds of avocados, according to the California Avocado Commission. “That’s enough guacamole to cover Reliant Stadium’s football field (the site of this year’s Super Bowl) more than 7 feet deep, end zone to end zone,” says a commission spokesperson. That much mashed up avocado translates into a lot chips. But these days, in addition to traditional snack fare, hosts will have to serve up some finger foods for finicky dieters. So what’s a party planner to do? Here are some tips to please all tastes yet keep it simple.
The trick is most of these trendy diets are not only about counting calories anymore. Atkins dieters avoid carbohydrates but consume large quantities of high-fat foods. Ornish followers seek out low-fat foods but are “allowed” some carbs. South Beach dieters stick to “good carbs” and lean proteins. And then there’s the Zone, Weight Watchers, wheat-free, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant diets and many variations on all these themes.
The good news is party planners do not have to sort out the details of each diet to achieve the goal: score with every guest! The exception being Slim Fast dieters — tell them to bring their own. Sorry, Whoopi.
Say cheeseIn general, protein snacks are back. So instead of avoiding high-fat cheese chunks, pile it on. As for what to serve, check out ilovecheese.com, a Web site sponsored by the American Dairy Association, which includes a guide to 40 common cheeses.
Keep it really simple and serve slices of American, a hunk of cheddar and some fresh mozzarella. American, cheddar and mozzarella — in that order — are the most popular in the United States.
Ambitious sorts can retrieve recipes from the electronic “snackulator” at ilovecheese.com, matched to their level of patience and expertise, to whip up some snazzier snacks. Suggestions for easy-to-prepare “big game” snacks for “the entire cast and crew plus extras,” with just a morning free to prepare them, yielded a recipe for cheddar and tomato jam canapés and a lesson on the what to pair with different varieties of Swiss cheese.
Paula Lambert, author of “The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide,” recommends the cheddar cheese ball with chutney (see recipe below). This is an updated version of the old-fashioned cheese ball, says Lambert, president of Mozzarella Company mozzco.com, a Dallas, Texas-based shop that produces about 250,000 pounds of cheese by hand each year. “The combination of curry powder and chutney is good because it’s both spicy and sweet. Rolling the cheese ball in chopped scallions rather than the traditional nuts gives it a fresh appearance,” she adds.
But sports fans would be most interested to know that the cheese ball can be shaped like a football, says Lambert.
Since the whole world is watching the Super Bowl, why not consider some imported cheese?
A trio of imported cheeses is the game favorite at one-stop cyber shop igourmet.com. The trio is comprised of: one ½ wedge of gouda from Northern Holland spiced with garlic; a ½ pound of chili pepper Pecorino, Italian sheep's milk cheese speckled with red pepper flakes; and a ½ pound of Red Dragon, a cheddar imported from Wales blended with brown ale and mustard seeds. The trio costs $17.99 plus shipping. “We chose the Trio because those cheeses are universally popular and they go great with pretzels and other salty snacks,” says Spencer Chesman, chief executive officer of igourmet.com, which stocks more than 500 cheeses from 30 countries.
Veggies, chips, and moreCut-up veggies fit with most diets and offer a nutritional reprieve from the typical junk food. Baby carrots are trendy these days. Also consider dried or seasonal fruits. Remember: the avocado harvest is abundant right now. So pick up some of these semi-exotic fruits at your local supermarket or direct from the growers online at californiaavocadoclub.com. (See recipe for guacamole below.)
Now for the hard part — the carbs. Load up on the regular chips but buy a few bags of the low-fat, salt-free, wheat-free varieties.
There’s a host of chips on the market that appeal to different diets. KETO tortilla chips keto.com is just one of them. The chips are low on carbs — 4 net grams — and high on protein — 12 grams. A 4-ounce bag costs $4.99. At first bite, the potato chip texture and the tortilla chip flavor of KETO chips is refreshing. But after several handfuls, the chips start to taste like what I imagine cardboard tastes like.
Slightly better on the palate are Just The Cheese snacks, a product of the Specialty Cheese Company specialcheese.com in Lowell, Wis. Through a 17-step process, the cheese company turned 100 percent natural cheese into a crunchy snack. The Crunchy Baked Cheese snacks, which taste like pretty much like baked crunchy cheese, simply contain cheese and spices. The snack, which come in bars or cracker-sized nibbles, are available in 11 flavors, including pizza, jalapeño, honey Dijon, bacon and white cheddar with soy. A 2-ounce bag retails for $2.99.
The chips not only have zero carbs but also contain no sugar, no msg and no wheat, and are gluten free. The tasty snacks, however, are loaded with sodium and do leave a salty aftertaste.
In the end, you can please some of the people some of the time but you’ll never please all of the people all of the time. So do your best, and next year, you’ll do even better. Cheers!
Super Bowl recipes
Cheddar cheese ball with chutney, serves 8
6 ounces cream cheese, softened4 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (1 cup)3 tablespoons dry sherry1/4 teaspoon dry mustard3/4 teaspoon curry powder1/4 teaspoon salt5 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped10 fresh chives, minced1/2 cup mango chutneyAdditional chives, for garnishScallions curls, for garnishCrackers, for serving
Place the cream cheese, cheddar, sherry, mustard, curry, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Blend the cheese until it is well combined and smooth. Be careful not to over process or the cheese will be too soft. Remove cheese from the bowl and wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Shape it into a ball or another desired shape. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Mix the scallions and chives and place on waxed paper or plastic wrap. When cheese has chilled, remove the wrapping and roll the cheese in the chopped scallions and chives, gently pressing them into the surface. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
At serving time spread the chutney on a serving platter. Place the cheese ball on top of the chutney. Garnish with additional chives or scallion curls. Serve with crackers.
Note: To make the scallion curls, trim the root end off each scallion and remove and discard all but 1½ inches of the green part. Using a sharp knife, “feather” the green part, thinly slicing it lengthwise. Drop the scallions into a bowl of ice water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the green ends are curled.
Copyright © 2000 by Paula Lambert, The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide, all rights reserved.
Classic Guacamole Recipe4 California avocados, seeded and peeled 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tomato, finely chopped 1/4 cup finely chopped onion 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 3 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce
Using a fork, coarsely mash avocado with lemon juice and garlic.Stir in remaining ingredients to blend.Garnish as desired and serve with tortilla chips. Serves: 8
Courtesy of the California Avocado Commission. For more recipes, head over to www.avocado.org