John’s “common man” approach, which strikes a chord with many overweight Americans, was honed during his 10-year career in the weight loss industry. As Mr. Bad Food, he warns you of fast food, restaurant and supermarket landmines.

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Mr. Bad Food

by John McGran, Food columnist

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Hundreds of millions will watch the big game... billions of dollars will be gambled on its outcome... and tons of pounds will be gained during the non-stop feast fests that accompany this annual event.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages... I am talking about Super Bowl Sunday. You don't have to be a sports fan to participate.

Barbara and I are hosting a Super Bowl party and of the 20 or so attendees, I would say maybe half could name the teams playing for NFL bragging rights (Pittsburgh and Arizona), their nicknames (Steelers and Cardinals) and their coaches (Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhunt).

But just about all our guests would be able to guess what's on the menu: pepperoni and cheese, chips and dip, nachos and cheese, wings and beer.

Super Bowl parties have become about as predictable as the never-ending halftime show which will bore many to tears while driving the rest of us back to the food table for seconds and maybe even thirds!

Heck, who am I kidding? Partygoers will only eat once. Unfortunately, that one meal will start at 6 p.m. and finish at 11 p.m. when the game finally ends!

If eating were a sport, this Sunday would indeed be the super bowl of grub. Like many things in life, there's a right way and there's a wrong way to eat. Unfortunately, many of us have chosen the wrong way. And what better way to pull a dietary end-around than to belly up to a tailgate party buffet and eat like there's no tomorrow?

Chicken wings... fried chicken... ribs... chips... dips...The latter could refer to you and me when we insist on overdoing it in the name of football. If Diet.com employed referees they'd be tossing flag after flag our way and slapping us with a plate "piling on" infraction. Face it folks, finger foods washed down by beer or soda will foul up many a diet this weekend.

While strolling through the local Sam's Club recently I grabbed a bag of Tyson chicken wings and checked the label. At first glance, the news isn't all that terrible: a serving of Buffalo Hot Wings has 140 calories and 9 grams of fat (2.5 grams are the stick-to-your blood vessels saturated variety). The Honey BBQ version was slightly worse at 160 calories and 10 grams of fat (2.5 saturated). However... we are talking TWO WINGS per serving. When was the last time you attended a party and had just two wings? Never? Me too...

Far be it from me -- a Penn State University grad and a lifelong New York Jets fan -- to tell you to pull the plug on your pre-game partying. Ain't gonna happen anytime before you-know-what freezes over. I am going to ask you to digest the revealing numbers I am about to serve up and then give our just-as-tasty alternatives a try.

Yes, it could involve cooking rather than running to the grocery store deli or neighborhood fast food joint, but in the long run your belly and heart will thank you.

Oh, one more thing: I know it may sound blasphemous to some of you, but why not give light beer a try this year? The calories you save really do add up.

Are You Ready For Some Foodball?

And now ladies and gentlemen, here are the starting players for your football party spread. First we give you the "player" and its stats, then we provide the numbers for the replacement players. Playing wideout...

FRIED CHICKEN: Sorry Colonel... Remember, just because its all-white meat, doesnt make it lean. One 6.5-ounce extra-crispy breast from KFC has 470 calories and 28 grams of fat. KFCs drumstick will set you back 195 calories and 12 grams of fat, and even that little wing manages to cram in 220 calories and 15 grams of fat!

It'll take a little work but you'll be far better off to "fry up" your own chicken, using this great recipe:

Buttermilk “Fried” Chicken

4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup fat-free buttermilk
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse chicken breasts in running water and pat dry. Pour buttermilk, crushed corn flakes, and flour seasoned with salt and pepper into three separate shallow bowls. Dredge each chicken breast in buttermilk, then in flour, back into buttermilk, then into corn flakes. Arrange corn flake-coated chicken breasts on baking sheet and bake, about 8 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.

Makes 4 servings. Nutritional values per serving: 250 calories, 2g fat, 31g carbohydrate, 27g protein, 4g fiber and 1,870mg sodium.

CHICKEN WINGS: How bad could they be? They're chicken, after all, right? That may be true, but wings are considered dark meat, which is more fatty than its lighter counterpart. And once you drench them in oil and dip them in blue cheese, they might as well be any other meat.

So get cookin' and enjoy our Better Buffalo Wings...

1 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. olive oil
3 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
3/4 cup fat-free blue cheese dressing

Combine paprika, hot sauce and olive oil; add chicken and toss well to coat. Marinate chicken in refrigerator, about 1 hour. Heat broiler. Arrange chicken on broiler pan and cook, five minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with dressing for dipping.

Makes 6 servings. Nutritional values per serving: 120 calories, 2g fat, 13g carbohydrate, 14g protein, 500mg sodium, and 1 grams fiber.

RIBS: A typical 8-ounce restaurant serving of barbecue pork ribs has 645 calories and 43 grams of fat. That's even more fat grams than youd get from an order of Chicken Tenders, a regular-size French fries and a vanilla milk shake from Burger King. So if youre following an 1,800-calorie diet plan, an order of ribs will give you more than 70 percent of your recommended daily limit for fat in one meal!

We recommend you head down your supermarket’s frozen food aisle and grab a box of Gardenburger Meatless Riblets (they're made from soy protein). Pop a riblet in the microwave for about three and a half minutes and you can get your flame-broiled fix for just 210 calories and 5 grams of fat.

NACHOS: It thickens us to know that an order of beef 'n cheese nachos can have as much fat as 10 glazed doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts. Rather than opt for restaurant recipes that are nacho cup of tea, try this great alternative courtesy of Forbidden Foods Diabetic Cooking (American Diabetes Association)...

When topped with cheese, tomatoes and other healthy ingredients, these hearty nachos are the perfect way to stay on the ball while losing weight.

4 cups low-fat baked tortilla chips
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. canned chopped green chilies
1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1-2 pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a large heatproof platter or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Scatter the tortilla chips evenly over the platter. ...    Continue

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@ 10:54pm ET on January 30, 2009
THis is a great post! Thanks for the tips and recipes. My mom always makes chili....yum! Happy Super Bowl Sunday! ~Sara :o)

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