Football season is here – and that means tailgate parties! But those classic dishes everyone loves are usually not diet-friendly. For those with diabetes, heart problems or just trying to make healthier choices, that can be a problem.
It’s okay to enjoy comfort foods once in a while. But with football games every weekend, it’s easy to slip into habits that lead to weight gain or make certain health conditions worse. The goal is to cut back on fat, sodium and carbohydrates – and replace them with whole grains, fruits and veggies. Here are some general tips and recipes for a healthy tailgating season.
The key is FRESH.
Some great fruits and vegetables are in season in late summer/early fall. These fruits and vegetables will be at their peak and they’ll taste as good as they look.
- Look for apples, corn, peppers, grapes, blackberries, broccoli, tomatoes and melons.
- Instead of buying fatty prepackaged dips, make the tailgate salsa or guacamole yourself.
Lighten your recipes.
A lot of fruits and veggies in season around this time of year are nutritious. But the way we cook them removes the nutrition and replaces it with fat and sugar. Swap out high-fat ingredients common in tailgate recipes for healthier choices.
- Avocado instead of mayo
- Low-fat instead of whole fat cream cheese
- Splenda instead of sugar
Try these healthy twists on tailgate foods from the American Heart Association. Click for complete recipes.
This is a great low-carb option for a tailgate party, cutting out the saturated fats from mayonnaise.
- The filling is egg yolk, avocado, sour cream, lime juice, roma tomato, scallions and jalepeño.
- Only 71 calories per serving, 3.3 carbs, and 4.9 grams of protein
Serve this by itself or with corn chips.
- Mix drained canned corn and black-eyed peas with green onions, bell pepper and tomatoes.
- 150 calories per serving, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber
Chickpeas are a power food. One serving (a cup) of plain chickpeas has 9-12 grams of fiber. That’s 40% of your daily requirement, and also has 10-15 grams of protein.1
- Combine canned chickpeas, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne.
- Eat as-is or add to a party trail mix with nuts and pretzels.
- Warning: they’re spicy!
This recipe is great with fresh veggies like carrots, celery and bell peppers.
- It calls for fat-free plain yogurt, chopped cucumber, dill and onion.
- There are only 13 calories per serving!
Follow these tips for eating healthy at the tailgate.
- Everything is healthy in moderation, so feel free to sample things, but don’t overdo it.
- Fill your plate with mostly low-carb options and one serving of sweets.
- Listen to your body and know when it’s time to stop eating.
- Don’t let a buffet distract you and make you think you’re hungrier than you are.