Classics like cheesy appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, pretzels and beer may get you in the game-day mood but they can really pack in the calories and sodium.
One soft pretzel with butter has almost 500 calories. To put that in perspective, the average woman would need to cycle for 81 minutes at 10 mph to burn off those calories!
There are, however, healthier pre-game choices. Keep reading to learn about delicious tailgating party foods that also get a registered dietitian’s stamp of approval.
Try this skinny dip.
You’ll forget about cheese dip after trying this flavorful layered bean dip packed with heart-healthy fiber and potassium. In a casserole dish, layer refried black beans (use one with about 200 mg sodium and 3 grams of fat per ½-cup serving), homemade guacamole or chopped avocados, low-sodium salsa, low-fat plain Greek yogurt, and garnish with a handful of Mexican-style shredded cheese. Serve with vegetable sticks and whole grain tortilla chips.
Bring bite-sized appetizers.
Keep it simple with a tray of hardboiled eggs and cucumber cups. To make hardboiled eggs party-ready, slice in half and decorate with herbs, spices and smoked salmon. If you are a deviled egg fan, try yogurt and a splash of hot sauce instead of mayo. For cucumber cups, slice cucumbers into thick rounds and scoop out a little bowl in the center of each, fill with a small amount of olive tapenade and garnish with feta cheese.
Make vegetables the star of the menu.
Try this sweet and spicy slaw (see recipe below) that everyone will love on its own or as a healthy topping for sandwiches. Slaw can be made up to three days in advance. As it marinates, the acid from the lime juice turns the entire salad a lovely pink color.
Sweet & Spicy Coleslaw
In a large bowl, combine:
- ½ head of thinly sliced red cabbage
- ½ head of thinly sliced green cabbage
- 1 chopped red bell pepper
- 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped, optional
- 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
- the juice of one lime
- two tablespoons mayo
- a spoon of sugar or honey
- a generous pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Bring a Crock of BBQ chicken.
Pile chicken and sweet & spicy coleslaw on whole grain flat bread for perfectly portioned sliders.
Make a crowd-pleasing dessert.
Fire up the grill and layer peaches, pineapples and cherries on wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes. Cook kebabs turning occasionally until grill marks begin to form. Place skewers in a serving dish, drizzle with chocolate sauce and indulge in this decadently sweet, guilt-free dessert.
Consider bringing a thermos of herbal tea to warm you up on those chilly game day nights (and limit the number of trips you take to beer the cooler).
The average beer is about 150 calories but a Margarita or Long Island Iced Tea could have more than 700 calories!!
If you are a cocktail lover, try this Bloody Mary made with shochu* that is equivalent to one serving of vegetables, has no added sugar and is also delicious without shochu. Shochu is a lower calorie alternative to vodka – one 2-ounce serving has 35 calories while 2 ounces of vodka has about 120 calories!!