In addition to back to school, cooler weather and shorter days, it’s football season! Whether you tailgate at the games or celebrate while watching at home, it’s often hard to maintain healthy eating habits with the typical football party offerings, and concession stand foods provide few healthy options.
But you don’t have to sacrifice taste for healthier options. Most every tailgate dish can be made healthier. The key to a satisfying tailgate snacks is all in the spice.
Spices provide satisfying flavor and help reduce the need for added salt and fat. Substituting ground chicken and turkey in traditional beef-based recipes can significantly reduce calories and saturated fat content. Chicken and white bean chili or turkey and black bean chili recipes can reduce the fat content by two-thirds and saturated fat content by over 50 percent. Add interest and nutrients by choosing chili recipes that contain butternut squash or sweet potatoes, which add a sweet and spicy contrast in flavor. You can further reduce the fat content and boost the fiber content by making bean-based vegetarian chili. For the appetizers, go lean by making turkey meatballs or buffalo chicken salad, two choices that provide a healthier variety of traditional tailgate fare.
Avoiding processed meats like sausage, bratwurst and hot dogs are another way to decrease fat and sodium. Turkey, black bean, mushroom or plant-based burgers are a healthier option.
For snacks, kale chips and roasted chickpeas are simple, make-at-home options. If you can’t leave the chips and dip behind, try purchasing baked chips, or even vegetable or bean-based chips now available in your grocery store. Air-popped popcorn is another option for healthier snacking. Make yogurt-based dips to decrease fat content and limit portion size.
Barbara Walsh, R.D., is the community nutrition educator in the Tevis Center for Wellness.