Football season is finally upon us – which means tailgate parties are, too.
When you’re trying to choose what to cook for the tailgate, you want to be sure it’s something everyone will enjoy.
But those classic tailgate dishes everyone loves are usually not diet-friendly.
For those with diabetes, heart problems or just trying to make healthier decisions, the goal is to cut back on the fat, sodium and carbs – and replace them with whole grains, fruits, and veggies.
Every once in a while, it’s okay to enjoy comfort foods, but with a football game every weekend, it can be easy to slip into habits that will lead to weight gain and worsen health conditions affected by diet.
Here are some recipes and general tips for a healthy tailgating season.
1. The key is FRESH.
Some great fruits and vegetables are in season in late summer/early fall, like apples, corn, peppers, grapes, blackberries, broccoli, tomatoes, and melons. These fruits and vegetables will be at their peak – they’ll taste as good as they look.
Instead of buying fatty dips prepackaged at the grocery, make the tailgate salsa or guacamole yourself.
2. Lighten your recipes.
A lot of the fall 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.
Make sure you have non-stick cooking pans – that means you will need to use less butter and fat.
Use these rules of thumb for common ingredients in tailgate recipes:
o Avocado instead of mayo
o Low-fat cream cheese instead of whole fat cream cheese
o Sugar blends (Splenda) instead of sugar
3. Guacamole deviled eggs
This is a great low-carb option for a tailgate party, and it cuts out some of those saturated fats from mayo in regular deviled eggs.
This recipe calls for eggs, avocado, sour cream, lime juice, Roma tomato, scallions, and jalepeño
71 calories per serving, 3.3 carbs, and 4.9 grams of protein.
4. “Texas caviar”
Serve this by itself or with corn chips.
This dish calls for corn, black-eyed peas, green onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes.
150 calories per serving, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
5. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a power food. One serving (a cup) of plain chickpeas has 9-12 grams of fiber (which is 40% of your daily requirement), and 10-15 grams of protein. (1)
This recipe from the American Heart Association calls for canned chickpeas, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. (warning: they’re spicy.)
You can eat these as-is or add them to a party trail mix with nuts and pretzels.
6. Cucumber dill dip
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 13 calories per serving.
7. Now some tips for staying 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.
Use intuitive eating to listen to your body and know when it’s time to stop eating. It’s easy to let a buffet distract you and make you think you’re hungrier than you are – don’t listen to that!