The Super Bowl of Super Foods

by Lacy Davidson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, RYT, Nourish Appalachia

2-3-17_lacy-davidsonGearing up for the big game? I have to admit, at the very moment I’m writing this I have absolutely no idea which teams are even playing in Sunday’s game. I know my brothers would be so proud! At any rate, Super Bowl Sunday has ALWAYS been a part of my life. There have been many years when the big game fell on my birthday, or often times my birthday party was held on the same day. What a great way to kill two birds with one stone, mom!

Recently, a patient asked me what sorts of foods and snacks I might be serving up this year on Super Bowl Sunday. Being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I get these questions quite often, WHICH I LOVE!

You can also submit questions for me to answer by going here and select ‘get started’.

As a child, and nearly every adult year I recall, the foods that are most synonymous with Super Bowl Sunday, besides the birthday cake and ice cream, are chili and nachos with cheese.

As I have grown more health conscience over the years and am aware of the relationship between food and health, the recipes for these ‘holiday’ staples have evolved. For many years, the chili was vegan (err, I was a broke college student and beans were cheap – heart healthy, too). While other years it may have been made with ground turkey, grass-fed beef or my personal favorite, venison!

Soup-er Bowl 2017 will in some ways most closely resemble the way I first noshed on this warm and spicy dish, however this year the menu will be dressed up with a few super food add-ins to tickle the taste buds and stoke the metabolic fire.

Here’s the recipe for this delicious chili dish if you’d like to try your hand.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds ground venison (deer meat)
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped celery and carrot
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup red wine (and an ounce or so for the chef to enjoy all the commercials)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (we add a pinch of dried habanero or jalapeno, from the garden for a little more heat)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (yes, cinnamon)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels from the summer harvest
  • 1 cup roasted green peppers, peeled, seeded & chopped into medium dice
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded & chopped into medium dice
  • 1- 2 quarts organic canned tomatoes
  • 1 small can organic tomato paste
  • 1 ½- 3 cups dried beans (I prefer a blend of kidney, pinto, and black – soaked and drained at least 36 hours – the key to not blowing everyone away at halftime if you know what I mean!)
  • 2 tablespoons coco powder
  • ½ cup left over coffee
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper


Serves 12

Total Prep and Cooking Time: 45 minutes

  • Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large stockpot (I love using my cast iron kettle), add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.
  • Then add the meat to the pot and cook until it’s no longer pink and it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the wine to the pot, bring to a boil, and reduce it by about half.
  • Put in the cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and bay leaves and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the corn, peppers, tomatoes, and beans.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Put in the Super Bowl MVP and antioxidant rich cocoa powder, coffee and the WV maple syrup. Continue to simmer for a few minutes, to gently combine all of the flavors.
  • Season to taste with a dash of salt and grind of pepper.


Meat is optional. Although some wouldn’t call it ‘chili’ if it doesn’t have meat, it will have nearly the same flavor and will satisfy vegetarian guests if omitted. The emphasis on veggies is what makes this rendition so incredibly heart healthy (a little secret my boyfriend doesn’t need to necessarily know to enjoy).

I’ve made this dish many times with the ancient grain, quinoa. Loaded with fiber from the complex carbohydrates while providing nearly the same texture and protein content as the ground meat, it has always gone over well with a crowd.

In my opinion, where you can really take this dish up a notch in both presentation and nutritional status is to have a bar of fresh toppings for the chili like cilantro, limes, sour cream from grass fed dairy cows, coconut cream for the lactose intolerant, heart healthy avocados and diced green onions to add a contrast of color and to entice your guests.

nachosAs for the nachos, I’m not crazy about cheese these days (certainly not the fake cheese spreads, dips, slices, and whizzes out there) and neither is my belly. Some of these cheeses lack nutrients and include questionable ingredients that can make their way into ‘processed cheese products’. This year, I’ll be serving up a rendition on this Epicurious concoction and will be making a few recipe tweaks of my own.

It’s important to ensure that toppings on the nachos are local and organic ingredients (when possible) and that the chips are a variety of non-GMO corn tortillas so that they’re not a total empty calorie bomb. My personal favorite brand of chips is Shagbark Seed & Mill which I can pick up at our local food market.

Having tried it a couple of times, always changing the recipe slightly, I will certainly give this Butternut-Queso a go as well. Beyond that I’m sure I’ll whip up another batch of Cauliflower Buffalo Bites as I have in years past. I’ll probably also serve nutrient dense versions of classic staples like:

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip – double up on the spinach and artichoke and swap the weird ingredients you might spy in the store-bought stuff for real ones.
  • Homemade Ranch Dressing – use a real mayo that’s loaded with herbs like dill and garlic with a base of simply eggs and oil for dunking various veggies.
  • WV Smoked Trout Dip – thanks to a recent fishing adventure, this dip will most likely make an appearance and it will be topped with a few hot jalapeno peppers that we canned from the summer’s harvest.
  • Beverages will abound, but a sparkling water with seasonal grapefruit and mint from the indoor herb garden will certainly be showcased. Vodka or gin may be added at guest’s discretion. I’m not policing but would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a heart healthy serving of alcohol is one 5 oz. glass of wine, a 12 oz. mug of beer, or a 1 oz. jigger of hard liquor per day for women and no more than two for men.
  • Hot Toddy’s using white pine and freshly bottled maple syrup will also be an option for guests, and maybe a knob of Kentucky’s finest bourbon will even make a halftime appearance!

I’m also curious to know:

  1. Who’s playing?
  2. What do you plan to serve?
  3. What are your tricks for pleasing your guests while keeping your dishes penalty-free?

Party on!


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