Kansas City football fans will miss their beloved Chiefs in the upcoming Super Bowl, but it still is one of the biggest sporting — and television — events of the year. Most reports state that the viewing audience will top 100 million.
What are you serving — and eating?
Standard fare used to be a bag of chips, spicy yellow cheese dip and a beer or two. You might have even splurged and added a pizza or wings. But today, the viewing audience and our tastes have changed. It is time for new game plan.
There is no need for a flag on the play if veggies and fruit enter this once male dominated football culture! (Please do not yell at me — I am not the football game food referee.) Yet, women are a quickly growing category of fans.
According to Nielsen and reported in Media Daily News women made up 46 percent of the Super Bowl viewing audience — in 2011, for that one big football game on TV, that meant 37.9 million viewers were women — and it is a growing category.
Many people, no matter their gender, now strive for a more healthy diet and others may want alternate foods due to dietary choices or restrictions. None of these statistics mention the kids — the little ones, the tweens and the teens who all gather nearby and are equally hungry. That adds up to lots of different people, all with hearty appetites and all craving bold, bright flavors and seeking new, fresh, and unexpected foods.
It is a big party night and everyone I know talks about where they will watch the game — and if they don’t watch it for the game winning touchdowns, they congregate to watch it for the commercials — or gather to just enjoy the time with family and friends.
No matter the reason, it is a time to party casually by the television, and the food must be up to the fun. It is an evening for grazing on finger foods and no one wants to spend time in the kitchen.
How about some suggestions — old favorites you may have forgotten, with a few trick plays you may not have thought of, to expand the menu?
• Unique and flavorful cheese. Look for those flavored with mustard seed or herbs, a ribbon of contrasting colors or flavors of cheese, herbs or fruit crusted.
• Focaccia, flatbread and naan can replace that pizza. Serve wedges as is, with an olive oil dipping sauce or top with roasted vegetables and a light sprinkling of cheese.
• Shrimp, iced in a bowl or better yet, quickly sautéed in olive oil, garlic and a squeeze of lemon or sprinkled with a spicy Cajun seasoning blend.
• Fruit cut or cubed so it is easy to eat.
• Vegetables cut and served with dip. Be a little adventuresome and offer quickly steamed or lightly roasted asparagus, steamed green beans and red pepper strips with a dip made by blending wasabi into low-fat mayo.
• Bruschetta with lightly toasted slices of baguette. Simply chop the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and fresh minced basil. If the tomatoes look a bit weak, check out jars of sun-dried tomato bruschetta spread or tapenades.
• Browse the olive bar for interesting olive blends or marinated mushrooms.
• Hummus and pita is now a classic, even here in the Midwest. Add tabbouleh from the deli and an array of vegetables and the hummus won’t be ho-hum.
• Panini Bar: Set out the panini press and arrange breads, deli meat, sliced cheese, sliced onions, roasted red peppers, sliced tomatoes and lots of other sliced vegetables and spreads such as mustard, mayonnaise and butter nearby. People can quickly assemble and grill their own panini and not miss the action.
• Chili Bar: Make a batch of basic, mildly flavored meaty chili and a second that is vegetarian. Accompany it with bowls of chopped onions, shredded cheese, hot sauce, sliced jalapeno peppers, reduced fat sour cream, and pico de gallo so you can top that chili as you want.
• Chips are a favorite, but how about adding some popcorn, pretzels or baked chips for a lighter, but still crunchy taste?
• Sure, serve ice-cold beer, but do not forget bottles of ice water and maybe a flavored iced tea for those who want an alternate beverage.
With menu suggestions like these in your plan, no team needs to go home hungry! Enjoy the game.
Kathy Moore is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining. She develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She blogs at pluggedintocooking.com