3 healthy tailgating food tips
Football season is tailgating time, but don’t worry. You can have fun cheering on your favorite team and still stay healthy. Lindsay Kirkland, RD, offered three healthy tailgating food tips that let you enjoy game-day recipes without overdoing it.
Make it healthier by making it from scratch. Store-bought foods tend to be high in sodium, fat and sugar, plus you have no control over the ingredients in store-bought foods.
By cooking foods at home, you can control the quality of ingredients and know exactly how much of each ingredient is in there. For example, try out a healthier chili recipe! Instead of using high-fat ground beef, substitute lean ground turkey and try cutting the salt in half or even less. Bulk up your version of the recipe with vegetables to provide more nutrients and increase fullness after eating the meal.
Another way to get creative is to grill kabobs instead of hot dogs, brats and burgers. By cooking kabobs, you can include a variety of vegetables and small portions of lean protein, such as shrimp or chicken.
Make smart side dish choices. Common sides found at tailgating events, such as potato chips, pasta salad, potato salad and baked beans, can all be replaced with healthier options that offer many more nutrients and are much lower in fat and sugar.
Try bringing a fruit salad made with a combination of all your favorite fruits or a vegetable platter. Instead of pasta salad, bring a mixed green salad with your favorite toppings. If you absolutely cannot go without the pasta salad, use 100% whole wheat pasta and add chopped veggies. If potato salad with mayonnaise is a must-do, consider warm German potato salad or cut the amount of mayonnaise used in half or less, to get the same rich flavor without the same overwhelming amount of fat.
If you are someone who loves to bring dips to tailgating parties, consider swapping out your cream cheese or cheese-based dips for a homemade Greek yogurt-based dip, hummus or a lightened spinach artichoke dip.
Limit alcohol consumption. It is smart to limit your alcohol intake and avoid any high-calorie alcoholic beverages.
One of the concerns when it comes to drinking is that it’s difficult to nail down the exact number of calories you’re consuming per drink, and there’s not much of a nutritional value. If you do choose to drink, make sure to take your time and make the healthiest choices you can.
Hard seltzer, cider or light beers all have options that involve lower-calorie drinks that let you join in the tailgate. But don’t forget about mocktails! These fun drink ideas, which involve all the same ingredients but leave out the booze, offer great taste without the downsides of alcohol consumption.
Just keep in mind that every drink will up your sugar intake, which can cause a blood sugar crash that might make you feel less than stellar even if your team wins the game. Make sure that if you drink alcohol, you alternate each drink with an equal or greater amount of water to stay hydrated.
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