14 SmartPoints-saving tricks for delicious game day snacking
Typical game day foods aren’t always SmartPoints®-friendly—we’re looking at you, extra loaded nachos! But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun or—gasp!—avoid the snack table entirely and actually watch the game.
Follow the tricks below to fill up on game day favorites without exceeding your daily Budget:
1. Start with salsa.
Spicy, fruit-flavored, or smoky salsas are all low in SmartPoints values. What’s more, certain fat-free varieties are considered ZeroPoint™ foods. As an added health bonus, tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, beta carotene, and lycopene, which are all important antioxidants for general immune health.
2. Go hot! Hot! Hot!
Dips made with spicy peppers like jalapenos or chili flakes may help you eat more slowly: You can’t take down a plate of nachos if your mouth is on fire. And while research on the topic is sparse, some studies suggest spice may help you eat less overall.
3. Prioritize protein.
Black bean dip and hummus both provide healthy fat, protein, and fiber—the ideal trifecta for staying satisfied through halftime.
4. Swap out the heavy cream.
Cheese or cream-based dips can rack up the SmartPoints quickly, since they’re higher in saturated fat than veggie-based versions. Try swapping any sour cream or cheese-based recipe with plain low- or non-fat Greek yogurt, which packs a 20 grams of protein per two-thirds cup serving.
5. DIY extra flavor.
If you’re building your own dip, you can amp up the flavor using mixed spices like Everything Bagel, chipotle, or adobe; add fresh herbs like scallions or cilantro; or sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Do more with veggies.
Blending ZeroPoint veggies like cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, or edamame into creamy, yogurt-based dips adds loads of flavor and filling fiber. Plus, it increases the recipe volume without adding SmartPoints—meaning each serving will have fewer SmartPoints.
7. Blend your guacamole.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium, avocados are a heart-healthy game day favorite. However, a few scoops can still cost you quite a few SmartPoints. To reduce the SmartPoints value of every serving, blend with non-fat, plain Greek yogurt, edamame, or salsa.
8. Choose colorful corn chips.
Blue corn tortilla chips and other alternatives that list 100% stone-ground corn as the first ingredient on the package provide a little bit of protein and fiber. Take it to the next level with this nachos recipe, which calls for pinto beans rather than ground meat for extra fiber, and reduced-fat cheese to cut back on saturated fat (and SmartPoints).
9. Try bean-based chips.
Ditch high-fat potato chips and snack on WW Hummus Chips or any other bean-based chip for a higher protein, higher fiber snack. Look for white beans, chickpeas, lentils, or black beans as the first ingredient.
10. Make your own chips from 100% whole-wheat pita.
They can be cut into wedges pieces and baked until crisp. They’ll serve up fewer calories than store bought pita chips, which are typically fried.
11. Make your own veggie fries or chips!
Start by prepping a batch of thinly-sliced carrots, kale leaves, or sweet potatoes. Then drizzle with olive oil, add your favorite herbs and spices, and roast until the vegetables are crisp and dry.
12. Serve up buffalo flavor, hold the greasy wings.
Perhaps the most famous game day snack, buffalo wings are always a crowd pleaser. These lightened up recipes are made for the flavor’s biggest fans:
13. Stack your sub the smart way.
Giant subs tend to be a game day staple. Get in on the action with these SmartPoints-saving swaps:
- Stick to lean proteins like chicken or turkey breast.
- Veg out on toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, which bulk up your sandwich without contributing SmartPoints. Grilled extras like mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini can make every bite even heartier.
- Add flavorful condiments like spicy mustard or a veggie-based spread such as roasted red pepper tapenade.
- Go open-faced. Serving sammies on just one piece of bread instead of two slashes the SmartPoints by halving your slice serving.
14. Chill out with heavy chili.
Because chili is typically comprised of filling beans and ZeroPoint foods like onions and tomatoes, it can be super SmartPoints-friendly. That said, it can also be loaded with fatty meats and treated as a catch-all for high-SmartPoints-value ingredients like cheese and sour cream, which rack up SmartPoints quickly. Beware and try these tricks:
- Begin with lean meat. When you’re the chili chef in charge of satisfying carnivores, start with lean ground turkey instead of fatty beef to keep the SmartPoints to a minimum. (Psst! If you’re a beef-lover trying to keep your SmartPoints in check, this quick skillet beef-and-bean version will hit the spot without emptying your Budget.)
- Top it off with flavor, not fat. Instead of relying on sour cream and cheese, amp up your chili by serving it with zesty lime wedges and a sprinkle of a coarsely chopped herb like cilantro.
- Swap out sour cream for fat-free Greek yogurt. With more protein and less saturated fat, it’s a solid substitute that delivers creaminess without excess SmartPoints.
- Eat it straight up. Rather than spooning your chilli over hot dogs, nachos, or fries, serve it in a bowl to save SmartPoints.
Jackie London is a registered dietitian (RD), certified dietitian nutritionist (CDN) and holds a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University and master of science degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. WW’s head of nutrition and wellness, London is also the author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great About Your Body, and previously served as Good Housekeeping’s nutrition director, where she oversaw all of the brand's nutrition-related content across platforms and evaluating products for the Good Housekeeping Seal and GH Nutritionist Approved Emblem. As media spokesperson in nutrition and health, Jackie has appeared in various national media segments including Today and Good Morning America, reporting on nutrition news and trends, myth-busting diet fads, and providing tangible strategies that are rooted in science, but actionable in real life.