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Carb Solution: Super Bowl Finger Food

Image of Air-Fryer Beef Wellington Wonton
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources, not to mention the effect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].

Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the bloodstream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based on how quickly the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate these calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for people with diabetes who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from foods with low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts has been proven to increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.

A QUICKIE GLYCEMIC PRIMER:
  • The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low glycemic index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
  • The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
The participants in this year’s final game of the NFL season were not known when this blog had to be written due to the lead time necessary to publish this monthly website. However, the menu for anyone attending a Super Bowl party on a low-glycemic diet can and should be planned to ensure a day of healthy grazing-while-viewing experience. These get-togethers around big screens across the country have become a national potluck event, supported by platters and bowls of all sorts of delectable high-carb, high-fat goodies.

Research released just before the 2020 Super Bowl suggested that the average football fan would eat about 10,821 calories and 180 grams of saturated fat during the game. That's four and a half times the recommended daily calorie intake. The research came from a direct-to-consumer health testing and insights company, which polled 1,000 Americans who planned to watch the 2020 game. FYI, according to the FDA, about 2000 calories per day of “good stuff” is the current accepted goal for the average person. There’s a truism in the game of football: The best defense is a good offense. Therefore, it is best to BYO healthy nibble to guarantee there will be at least one item at this event to enjoy without guilt!

It’s not rocket science to cook and eat healthy; just choose the right ingredients. And, of course, on SB Sunday, have the inner fortitude not to be tempted in the face of all those other treats on the potluck buffet table. A good example of the right ingredient choices is these tasty miniature Beef Wellingtons that I spotted on the ‘net. I was immediately attracted to the idea – sounded scrumptious – until I got to the high-fat puff pastry wrap component in the ingredient list. And the Beef Wellington Wonton was born! Granted, there is no comparison between the delicately thin, flaky texture and buttery flavor of puff pastry or filo dough and the more dense, almost clunky, Wonton Wrapper. In fact, puff pastry wins style points, but at the cost of also winning in another category, fat content. Like 38.1 grams of total fat content compared to the wonton’s 1.5 grams in equal servings! The wonton is also packed with vitamins and nutrients too numerous to list here, while pastry exemplifies “empty calories” with little nutrition. Importantly, the glycemic score of wonton wrappers is low, while pastry has a medium glycemic score; however, both have relatively high “GL” scores, which means eat smaller portions – a good rule no matter the glycemic score!

The real Beef Wellington is a layered feast of beef tenderloin coated with a mushroom paste covered by a rich pâté wrapped in strips of prosciutto and baked inside a buttery puff pastry. Of course, the tiny space of the wonton wrapper has its limits ingredients-wise, so this dish is a deconstructed, almost impressionistic, take on that original. Plus, remember this is an appetizer being served at the most watched sports event of the year – so keep it simple. So, I benched the pricey beef tenderloin for ground round and minced the prosciutto right into the beef! When these two meat components meld together with the red wine and the mushrooms – it may not look like it, but one’s palate recognizes pure Wellington-ness!

I reconstituted two varieties from Melissa’s line-up of dried mushrooms: choosing Shiitake and Portobello for their deep flavors that pair well with beef. Use fresh mushrooms if you wish, though I cannot tell the difference in flavor. As a fresh produce professional, I am very prejudicial about using fresh ingredients since the flavor of any other form of most produce items pales in comparison…except dried mushrooms! The key is to follow the instructions on the package that calls for reconstituting, then a quick parboil and cool before using. For this recipe, remove the extra water from these mushrooms for a better air fry. After cooling, place the mushrooms in a colander, cover with a dish towel and press as much water out as possible before mincing them. BTW, note that all the ingredients need a blade to get minced or chopped very fine so all can “fit” into the wrapper.

The good news is that you now have a glycemic-friendly dish to rely on and enjoy during a Super Bowl viewing party. Unfortunately, since the event is a potluck, this dish will have to be shared. This writer can attest to the fact that it is impossible to eat just one extremely delicious little beefy morsel of goodness without wanting another. Since the big kick-off is only days away, it is suggested that measurements in the following recipe be tripled and preparation get started immediately. So little time, so many wontons. Enjoy the game!

Air-Fryer Beef Wellington Wonton
Image of Ingredients
Ingredients
½ pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
6 pcs prosciutto, fine chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 pkgs Melissa’s Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, reconstituted, minced
1 pkg Melissa’s Dried Portobella Mushrooms, reconstituted, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 package Melissa’s Wonton Wrappers
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Cooking spray

Preparation
Image of cooked meat
In a small skillet, crumble and cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink, 4-5 minutes; a minute before beef is done, mix in the prosciutto for a quick sauté. Transfer to a large bowl.
Image of mushrooms
In the same skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot; cook 1 minute. Stir in reconstituted mushrooms and wine. Cook until mushrooms are tender, then add to the bowl of beef, stir in parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Image of wine dip
For the dipping sauce: In the same skillet, sauté the minced shallots until golden. Deglaze with red wine and reduce by two-thirds. Strain and discard the shallots. Return the sauce to the pan and swirl in the cold butter one pat at a time.
Image of wonton construction
Place about 2 teaspoons filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Combine egg and water. Moisten wonton edges with egg mixture; fold opposite corners over filling and press to seal.
Image of wrappers
Arrange wontons in a single layer in air-fryer basket, leave space in-between. Spritz with cooking spray, air-fry at 325 degrees until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Then flip, spritz with cooking spray and cook 4-5 minutes longer until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm with red wine dipping sauce.
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