Healthy Tailgating Ideas

Healthy Tailgating Ideas

Fall and football go hand in hand, and tailgating is part of the fun. What isn't fun is the pounds you'll put on as you dig into the normal football tailgating foods like chicken wings, burgers, or pizza. Instead of resigning yourself to miss out on the party or gain a few pounds, opt for healthy tailgating snacks and treats. Yes, your team can win big without you taking in those extra calories. Here's how.

Try baked, not fried

Want to lighten up your favorite appetizer? Try baking it instead of frying. Foods like chicken wings, onion rings, or even French fries are healthier when they're baked instead of deep-fried.

Add protein

Eating a healthy balance of protein may not be your first thought when you're in party mode. Especially when chips and other finger-friendly (but not so good for you) carb-laden foods are a temptation. If you want to abate your hunger and watch the game without eating everything in sight, it's important to add some protein. Think deviled eggs, baked chicken wings, or even a bun-less burger if you're opting for a low-carb/high-protein meal.

Pile on the veggies

Veggies go well with a lot of tailgating treats. Plus they're good for you, they reduce calorie counts, and they're versatile enough to work in a variety of snacks and meals. Cut up a plate of your favorite veggies and serve with hummus or guacamole. Add slices of pepper or onion in-between meat for steak/vegetable kabobs you can grill. Or make a chunky salsa with fresh garden tomatoes and serve with your favorite baked chip or cracker. The more vegetables you include, the more nutrients and fiber you're getting.

Make smart swaps

Giving up your favorite tailgating recipes in favor of a salad might not feel so fun. Instead, make those favorite recipes a little healthier. For example, swap mayonnaise for plain Greek yogurt in deviled eggs, substitute cauliflower for chicken in chicken wings, or use ground turkey in place of ground beef in chili, hamburgers, or meatballs.

Rethink your drink

It's not uncommon to go through a couple of sodas or beers during a single game. You may get caught up in the moment and forget how many you've had. Unfortunately, your drink of choice may be adding more calories and sugar than you really want. Whenever possible, choose water. If you still want to indulge, set a limit on how much you'll drink, then choose water after that point. You can even flavor your water by putting fresh strawberries, citrus, or cucumber in it.

No matter how you're celebrating game day, don't let tailgating season be the reason you add a few pounds to your pre holiday body. Make smart swaps and healthy choices in the name of the game and you'll be able to nourish your body while still indulging in the fun.