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Trying to make unhealthy food a little bit healthier

When you have a winning chicken wing recipe, you stick with it. That was the idea behind George W. Schaeffer’s entry last year in the Healthy Changes Every Wing Contest during the National Buffalo Wing Festival. He won, 29 years after snatching a similar victory during a Buffalo Evening News wing contest at Fantasy Island.

He will rest on his laurels at 3 p.m. today, as other competitors vie for the healthy wing title during this year’s contest at Coca-Cola Field. For more details on the wing fest, visit

“A healthy chicken wing is kind of an oxymoron; there is no such thing,” said Schaeffer, 72, of Snyder, a retired food company district manager and co-owner of Buffalo Clayart Center. Still, he has done his best over the decades with a recipe that involves grilled wings coated in dry mustard, cayenne pepper and Frank’s Hot Sauce. In 1984, judges dipped his wings in a sour cream-blue cheese mix; last year, he used a blend of plain Greek yogurt with dry blue cheese crumbles.

You use a lot of substitutions in your wing recipe. Do you have any other substitution suggestions for healthy eating?

My wife Kathleen and I substitute Greek yogurt with anything that uses any kind of sour cream, even mayonnaise. It’s a staple.

What are the other staples of your diet?

We tend to eat less beef, more whole grains, chicken breasts, black bean salad. I still eat eggs a couple times a week and we really do like shrimp.

I put Frank’s Hot Sauce on everything. I put it on my eggs, when we have fish, any kind of meat. We go through as much Frank’s Hot Sauce as most people would go through ketchup.

– Scott Scanlon

Find the winning healthy wing recipe at