With football-watching season already upon us, lots of people are having parties and tailgating, and loading up on junk food. While the delicious flavor of some of our favorite dips and desserts bring us a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia (or just darn good tastiness), our bodies don’t much like the lack of nutrients that comes with these typical tailgating foods.
Yes. It’s often difficult to eat healthy at football watch parties and events, but a good first move is to avoid foods that likely have high fructose corn syrup or a lot of added sugar, hydrogenated oils, high-carbohydrate items like bread, and overloading on fats like cheese and cream. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to also avoid pre-packaged foods, as they often come loaded with artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, as well as a high amount of salt. Making your own food is a great way to know what you’re consuming and how much nutrition is present.
Food is an important part of watch parties, so don’t avoid the snack table entirely. Making informed choices and eating in moderation can help keep you from feeling stuffed post-party. Instead of coming back for seconds on creamy dips or double chocolate brownies, load up on fruits and veggies with a side of salsa or hummus. If those flavors aren’t your favorite and you find yourself reaching for the sweets, just be sure to be conscious of how much you are eating and how fast you’re consuming those tasty treats.
Below are a few suggestions for delicious, healthy alternatives to typical tailgating foods:
Cookie dough dip This tasty dessert is actually made from garbanzo beans and contains very little sugar. Serve with pretzels or just eat it by the spoonful.
Crackers and hummus Try finding new flavors of hummus and using low-salt, baked crackers.
Pico de gallo Not only is this food filled with good-for-you vegetables, but it can be a great topping for many dishes or simply eaten with tortilla chips.
Black bean and artichoke dip If you don’t like hummus, try this dip. It’s a healthier alternative to spinach artichoke, and guests will be asking for the recipe nonstop.
Stuffed mushrooms Instead of filling mushrooms with cheese and bacon try using a Caprese mix or diced sautéed veggies. There’s a world beyond bacon and cheese, so explore it!
Crispy chickpeas There are lots of recipes for these online and in cookbooks. The best thing about crispy chickpeas is the diversity of recipes you can find. Toss the chickpeas with something sweet like cinnamon and sugar, or something savory like Cajun seasoning.
Black bean and zucchini quesadillas Stuff tortillas with vegetables and beans, but go light on the cheese. Use the cheese merely as a binder and focus on other more complex flavors.
Devilled eggs with Greek yogurt Instead of mayonnaise, mix the yolk with Greek yogurt. The tang of Greek yogurt adds a new level of flavor to this favorite party food. Plus, probiotics in the yogurt can aid in digestion.