For the health of it

The time for college basketball to consume our lives is here. From now until the end of March, you’re likely to find yourself surrounded by friends and family gathered around the television supporting your favorite team. And while you’re busy checking your March Madness brackets, you’ll probably be munching away on snacks and treats that are not doing your body any good. Most of the food we consume during this time is high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat and calories. There are better foods to eat while watching hoops.

When you serve these four foods, you’ll be helping everyone enjoy the games in a delicious and healthy way. Don’t be surprised by the numerous high fives and chest bumps you’ll get from your guests after they try your tasty spread.

Instead of serving chips and nacho cheese sauce for an appetizer, let your guest dip carrot sticks, fresh red and green peppers and pita chips in hummus. This delicious spread or dip is made of chickpeas, garbanzo beans and tahini. It is commonly eaten in the Middle East and has become more popular in the U.S. because of its delicious flavor and nutritional value. Chickpeas do not contain any cholesterol or saturated fat, but they are very rich in protein. They are also known to prevent build up of cholesterol in the blood vessels and they help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

For the main dish, don’t call Little Caesar’s Pizza; instead try making your own pizza topped with a wide variety of fresh vegetables and lean meat. For a crust, choose whole grain, and for meat choose a lean cut of ham or chicken. The protein from the meat, combined with the fiber from the crust and vegetables will provide your guest a satisfying and healthy main course.

When it comes to drinks, do not serve soda. Many beverages like soda and fruit juices are high in sugar and high in calories. Instead offer cold water flavored with fresh fruit. To really spice things up combine almond milk, a handful of strawberries, a banana and a scoop of low-fat yogurt to make a refreshing smoothie that your friends will be sure to love.

And last, but not least, comes dessert. When the game is in the fourth quarter, it’s time to bring out your homemade oatmeal cookies made with dark chocolate, oats, banana and almond butter. Dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants, oats and banana contain fiber and the almond butter is full of protein and healthy fats. These cookies will be a healthy ending to a healthy meal.

Homemade Oatmeal Cookies

cookies

3 bananas

2 cups oats

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup unsweetened dark

cocoa powder

1/3 cups unsweetened

applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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