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Published January 28, 2009, 12:00 AM

Three former Bison greats try out low-fat, flavorful Super Bowl snacks

You might expect Phil Hansen, Steve Walker and Craig Dahl to have plenty to say about blocking schemes and coverage packages. But what are their opinions on onion dip?

By: Tammy Swift, INFORUM

You might expect Phil Hansen, Steve Walker and Craig Dahl to have plenty to say about blocking schemes and coverage packages.

But what are their opinions on onion dip?

The former Bison standouts gamely agreed to try out four popular Super Bowl snacks – chili, chicken tenders, French onion dip and potato chips – which had undergone an intensive fat-reducing makeover. And why shouldn’t these athletes have some expertise about the best snacks to nosh on while watching a game in which they’ve excelled?

In the end, Hansen probably summed up the healthy-snack philosophy best: “If you know you’re gaining something healthy by eating something like this, you’re more apt to think it tastes better.”

Meet the Thundering (Nibbling?) Herd:

- Hansen, an Oakes, N.D., native, won two college championships as a defensive lineman at NDSU. He went on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills, playing for three Super Bowl teams in his 11-year NFL career. He’s now a radio analyst for Bison football, host of the “Craig Bohl TV Show,” and a color commentator for CSTV football.

- Walker, a standout quarterback and ’08 grad, became known as the “Magic Man” after leading the Bison to four remarkable comeback victories in 2006 and ’07. He’s now a financial services agent at Foster Klima & Co., Fargo.

- Dahl, a former strong safety at NDSU, made the New York Giants in 2007 as a free agent, appearing in nine games and starting in three. Although he missed playing in the Super Bowl due to a torn ligament, Dahl is now recovered and hopes to return to the NFL. Meanwhile, he’s completing a mechanical engineering degree at NDSU.

Dahl’s injuries have made him acutely aware of the importance of healthy fuel for the body. “You go from burning 8,000 calories a day to pretty much sitting in a recliner for 14 hours a day,” he says. “You definitely notice significant weight gain in just weeks.”

And so Dahl was especially interested in trying our spread of low-fat snacks. So was Hansen, who once sported a body fat percentage of just

7 percent in his NFL days. Walker says he never used to watch his diet very closely, “although I probably should.”

Here’s their take on our super-good-for-you Super Bowl foods (recipes follow):

Turkey Chili

Hansen: “That’s as good to me as a full-fat chili. I like chili to have big chunks of meat (like this one does), not the little, grated-up stuff.”

Dahl: “It could use a little more spice.”

Hansen: “If I wanted to juice it up, I could put in more cayenne or whatever.”

Dijon Chicken Tenders

Dahl: “How do you get these crunchy without frying them? I’ve had something like these before ... I thought the chicken was great.”

No-Fry Potato Chips

Walker: “These are really good. I like these better because they’re thicker, so you can get a lot (of dip) on them.”

French Onion Dip

Hansen: “This doesn’t have the flavor of other French onion dips. You can tell it’s soupier.”

Walker: “Yeah, other onion dips are definitely stronger.”

Hansen: “But if you’re really hungry, and this was served side by side with the regular stuff, it would be interesting to see which one you would take. If I was at a Super Bowl party and that’s all there was, I would eat it all until it was gone.”

Dahl: “That’s a defensive lineman for you.” (They all laugh.)


French Onion Dip

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or pure canola oil)

4 cups chopped onions

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium beef broth

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt; cook stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown (6-10 minutes). Add broth, scrape up any browned bits and simmer until the liquid is almost evaporated (10-20 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until onions are deep golden brown (5-8 minutes more).

Stir in onion powder, then stir in vinegar and cook until evaporated (1 to 2 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.

Combine sour cream and yogurt in medium bowl. Stir in the onion mixture. Chill for at least 30 minutes to blend further.

Nutritional information: one serving (1/4 cup): 82 cal., 5 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 9 g carb., 3 g protein, 1 g fiber, 203 mg sodium

No-Fry Potato Chips

1 1/3 pounds Yukon Gold or red potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed

1 tablespoon canola oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds. Toss slices in a medium bowl with oil and salt to coat evenly.

Coat a large, microwave-safe plate with cooking spray. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on plate. Microwave, uncovered, on High until some slices start to brown (in my microwave, this took 4-5 minutes). Turn the slices over and continue microwaving until they start to crisp and brown around the edges, anywhere from 2 to 6 minutes more. Check frequently and rearrange slices to prevent scorching.

Transfer chips to another plate and allow to cool completely. (They will crisp more as they cool.) Repeat with remaining slices.

Nutritional information: one serving (12-14 chips): 141 cal., 2 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 26 g carb., 3 g protein, 2 g fiber, 291 mg sodium

From Eating Well magazine

Turkey Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 stick celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 pound 99-percent fat-free ground turkey

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in large Dutch oven. Add onion, celery, chopped pepper and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Crumble the turkey into the pan, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander and oregano. Add in tomatoes and tomato sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, mix well and cook on low heat for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Nutritional information: one serving (1/4 of recipe): 298 cal., 5.7 g fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 33 g carb., 28.8 g protein, 10.2 g fiber, 440 mg sodium

From About.com

Dijon Chicken Tenders

1 cup corn flakes, crushed

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried Italian dressing

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dijon mustard, as needed

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken strips

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray baking sheet liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish or pie plate; stir well. Brush mustard over both sides of chicken; dredge in cornflake mixture. Place on baking sheet.

Bake 5 to 9 minutes on one side; flip and bake for equal amount of time on other side or until center of chicken is no longer pink.

Serve with favorite dipping sauce.

Nutritional information: one serving (4 ounces): 192 cal., 4 g fat, 25 g protein, 8.5 g carb., 67 mg. cholesterol, 553 mg sodium

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525

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