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Kitchen Shrink: Kicking off the big game this Sunday with some winning eats

Counting down the days for the Super Bowl LII extravaganza, there’s still a little time left to strategize for a creative shindig, whether you’re hosting the event or organizing a potluck. You can whip up some fun new nibbles along with good ol’ standbys with healthy tweaks to avoid collateral damage the Monday morning after. Here’s a line-up of football fare to suit the assorted culinary preferences and dietary restrictions of stalwart fans across the board. Game on!

For Tight Ends

The average fan will indiscriminately scarf down more than 1,200 empty calories of salt, sugar, spice and grease on Super Bowl Sunday. Yet the weight and health-conscious fan can still indulge by swapping out bloating, high fat potato and corn chips for vegetable chips (taro root, sweet potato, beet, and kale), hearty, mineral-rich grain-based chips (quinoa, chia seeds, amaranth, and flaxseed) along with crudités, including sugar snap peas, cauliflower florets, jicama strips and radish buds. Fatty mayonnaise or dairy-based dips are out-of-bounds—instead try friendly fat guacamole (recipe below), Greek yogurt, hummus, pico de gallo or assorted salsas. Beef chili can be slimmed down with lean ground turkey or chicken breast, or a vegetarian multi-bean combination. Burgers go Paleo with butter lettuce or kale wraps, while deep-fried, have-a-fire-extinguisher-on-hand chicken wings can be seamlessly replaced with grilled chicken skewers paired with tangy dipping sauces.

Gluten-free Goodies

Throw wheat-based foods to the sidelines for gluten-free options, including polenta pizza rounds, quinoa, grilled chicken or pulled pork sliders (on buns made from coconut, brown rice, teff, buckwheat, chickpea, potato, or nut flours), risottos of all manners, butternut squash or eggplant lasagnas, and to sweeten the deal a batch of flourless salted caramel brownies.

Eccentric Eats

All food groups and creative culinary combinations, no matter how bizarre are permitted for Super Bowl Sunday. This no-rule policy includes Beluga caviar slathered on a bratwurst, Humboldt Fog melted on a bison burger, Buffalo wings marinated in Dom Perignon, or a pale ale syrup drizzled on an ice cream sundae.

Flavors of Philly and New England

Whether you’re rooting for the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy, you can still enjoy the cuisines of either region. Some light and lively New England eats might include a seafood or corn chowder or chili, lobster rolls with New England-style brioche buns, turkey or roast chicken subs or grinders, American chop suey, Boston baked beans, and for your just desserts a traditional apple, rhubarb or blueberry popover. To quench that Big Game thirst there’s crisp apple cider or lip-puckering cranberry juice, local New England lagers and ales like Samuel Adams, or geographic appropriate cocktails including the Cape Codder or the Boston.

Although most famous for its Philly cheesesteak (a hoagie roll stuffed with thinly sliced beef loin, melted Provolone and topped with grilled mushrooms and onions), Philadelphia fare has strong Italian and Mexican influences with a northeast spin. There are Stromboli’s, meatballs in gravy, square pizzas, and tomato pies with a thick blanket of red sauce and light sprinkling of pecorino. Tamales and tacos (whether spicy chicken, chorizo sausage or beef tongue) are favorite staples in these parts, while crabfries, bacon fat popcorn, fried cheese curds and lavender doughnuts will satisfy more exotic palates.

Minneapolis Munchies

Finally, paying homage to the Super Bowl venue fans can relish some cold clime comfort foods from cheese stuffed burgers and gooey Tater Tot Hotdish casseroles to Walleye fish tacos, Scandinavian delights (lefse, Swedish meatballs, gravlax and pickled herring), and dessert bars whether lemon, carrot or nutty chocolate.

The universal and iconic Super Bowl dish is authentic, hand-crafted guacamole. Roughly 53 million pounds are consumed on game day, enough to spread across the Minneapolis U.S. Bank Stadium from end zone to end zone 21-feet deep. So here’s the winning recipe for fans on both teams.

Hand-crafted Guacamole

4 medium-size, ripe but firm Hass avocados

½ small red onion, minced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 small jalapeno seeded and minced (or hot sauce, to taste)

Juice from 1 Meyer lemon

Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Remove pit from avocado, and scoop out flesh in a large mixing bowl. Coarsely chop the avocado, leaving chunky chunks. Add onion, cilantro, jalapeño (or sauce), lemon juice and seasonings, and blend well. Fold in tomatoes. Garnish with additional cilantro, and serve with “patriotic” red, white and blue corn chips.

For help with your next culinary game plan, e-mail kitchenshrink@san.rr.com.

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