If you don’t have a copy of one of C.M. Coolidge’s Dogs Playing Poker paintings hanging somewhere near your poker table, you should get it. It’s a cliché, but nevertheless a classic.
Dogs Playing Poker really sets the atmosphere for poker parties. Coolidge’s paintings feature calm, evening moods with little stimulation other than the card game. Likewise, the snacks you prepare for your guests should equally be hassle-free.
Anyone can buy a bag of pork rinds and a case of beer and call that poker snacks, but c’mon, you can be more creative than that! And healthier too. The tricky part lies in trying to create healthy alternatives to pork rinds and Doritos that aren’t complicated, messy, or sticky. Here is a quick guide to the best meals during a Domino99 game.
There is a way to make these treats figure friendly and less messy. First, start by finding a lower calorie English muffin. Thomas’ now makes 100-calorie versions, and I’ve even been able to find a few store-brands that have them for as low as 90 calories. Shop around and find the best one.
While you’re at the store, grab a few small cans of tomato paste and a package of low-calorie or fat free sandwich cheese. American or provolone are the easiest to find, but more power to you if you can find low calorie mozzarella sliced for sandwiches. If you want a bit of meat or veggies with your mini pizzas, grab a small pack of pre-sliced pepperoni and a few of whatever vegetables you desire.
You’re getting tomato paste instead of tomato sauce because the only difference is flavor and consistency. The down side to this is that you’ll have to season the paste yourself (I consider this an upside, since it gives you room to be creative with the flavoring); the upside is that the finished product won’t be as sloppy and wet as with regular pizza sauce.
When you get home from the store begin by opening up the cans of tomato paste and scooping them into a small mixing bowl. If you want a traditional pizza sauce flavor mix in basil, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic with a fork until you have the desired taste you’re looking for. Personally, I like to really spice it up by mixing it with garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika and chili powder.
Once the paste is seasoned to your tastes set it aside if you have meat or veggies to add. Thoroughly wash the produce and pat it dry before you chop it up. After you chop it up into thin and in small pieces, pat away any extra moister and mix it in with the paste. Add the meat to the paste as well to secure it to the muffin and give the paste an extra umph!
Separate the English muffins and spread the paste evenly over both halves. Leave some of the edges of the muffin bare so the cheese has something to stick to other than the paste. Take the sandwich sliced cheese and place one slice over each muffin. Sandwich cheese tastes exactly the same as shredded cheese, but is less likely to fall apart and fall into your guest’s lap or on the cards.
Spray a pan lightly with cooking spray and arrange the muffins evenly. Insert them in either a conventional oven or a toaster oven. They don’t need to be in there long, only enough to melt the cheese evenly and until the edges start to brown slightly. Ten minutes should do it, but keep an eye on them.
Once they’re done, pull them out and let them cool off. They’ll still be just as slippery if the cheese is so hot it melts right off the muffin! Give it time to cool and stiffen up slightly before serving.
Three cups of air popped popcorn is only 90 calories! Not to mention mess-free and only requires one hand to grab and eat. If your guests are unimpressed with plain popcorn, lightly spray it with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray and shake it up with your choice of seasonings. Make it sweet with Splenda and cinnamon, or super buttery with imitation butter salt. The possibilities are endless!
Buy a platter of different meats and cheeses, or cut up your own, and push them in various patterns onto wooden skewers used for shiskabobs. Your guests can enjoy these finger foods on a stick with one hand, keeping the other free to handle playing cards. For a bit of sweetness, add grapes or various other pieces of fruits.
Tortilla Chips and Salsa
I would normally not suggest chips and salsa, as it’s just a constant drip-fest, but Tostitos and a few other brands are redesigning the shape of the chip to eliminate drip. Look for scoopable shapes and curvier chips. Tortilla chips are healthier alternatives to other greasy varieties. Plus, salsa comes in a variety of flavors and is packed with healthy nutrients.
If you must consume alcohol, try mixed drinks instead of bloaty beers. A one ounce shot of vodka in eight ounces of either Hot ‘n’ Spicy V8 tomato juice or low calorie orange juice has the same alcohol content as a 12 ounce beer, but with more vitamins and minerals provided by the juice. If you must drink beer, chose a light beer or simply don’t consume as much, as each 12 ounce bottle of beer has at least 150 useless calories.
The object of the poker is to have a good time and potentially make your wallet fatter, not your waistline.