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Scoring snacks for healthy fandom

The Super Bowl is coming back this Sunday, and for more than 100 million Americans, it will be a time to party with football, funny commercials and food, according to the National Retail Federation.

An annual survey released on Jan. 24 by NRF and Proper Insights and Analytics showed that consumers will spend an average of $81 this Super Bowl Sunday, with 44 million Americans planning to host a party.

“Whether it’s to see who wins, watch the halftime show and commercials or just get together with friends, this is the biggest party since New Year’s Eve,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay stated in the press release.

Of the 7,384 adults surveyed, 79 percent said they planned to buy food and beverages for the big game. Many will be preparing dishes for their parties or ordering pizza, wings, cheeseburgers and other savory-but-fatty favorites for their guests.

But there are ways to cut back on the calories and fat while still having a good, appetizing time. Jennifer Gibson, a dietitian with Bon Secours In Motion Outpatient Nutrition, said the trick is to have healthier finger food at your parties — like bowls of fresh fruit or vegetables beside hummus for dipping — and preparing your own food with tasty alternatives.

Salt can be reduced and replaced with herbs and spices for flavor. Gibson said the recipes she recommends are typically based around different proteins, using cuts of meat that are lower in fat along with fresh or frozen vegetables over canned servings.

“A lot of patients who cook meals for their families can make healthy swaps without their family knowing,” she said, as long as you can keep the idea of “flavor first.”

Mayonnaise can be cut with Greek yogurt, and sliders can be made using lower-fat beef or even chicken or turkey, as long as there are plenty of toppings. Nacho cheese can be set aside for salsa and guacamole instead.

Chili is another great option for alternatives because the mix of beans, tomatoes and spices makes it easy to switch out beef for turkey or ground chicken.

“Most people aren’t going to know that their meat has been swapped out because they have all the other flavors in there,” she said.

It’s also crucial for fans to be safe with alcohol during the game. Don’t get behind the wheel after drinking — there’s always Uber, Gibson said — and try light beers and wine for fewer calories and carbohydrates.

Stick to clear liquors, have eight ounces of water between alcoholic beverages and try zero-calorie seltzer waters for mixers that have far fewer carbs than full-calorie servings.