Whether you’re tailgating outdoors or enjoying your favorite teams from home, the actual football game is only part of the party. Setting out a spread of appetizers, snacks, and beer is just as big of a highlight! Traditional tailgating fare is high on junk and low on nutrition, but the good news is that you can easily make traditional party foods healthy, without sacrificing on taste.
Using seasonal ingredients and combining rich flavors with fresh produce can keep the party menu balanced enough to please your palate and your health. When it comes to your own plate, remember this formula:
half fruits and vegetables (like crudités, fresh salsa, or fruit skewers)
a quarter starches (like potato wedges, whole grain crackers, or tortilla chips)
a quarter fats and proteins (like cheeses, heavy dips, or meat-based apps)
Opt for either a drink, like 12 ounces of beer, or a tasty dessert—or split a beer and dessert with a friend if you'd like a bit of both. This plan allows you to enjoy the buffet offerings while keeping you full and energized enough to jump up and down for your team.
Now try these recipes for a healthy spin on your favorite football party foods:
01. Reinventing classic party dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients is a creative way to improve the nutrition profile. Blissful Basil's Creamy Avocado, Artichoke and Kale Dip is a healthy take on the classic artichoke or spinach dip. The standard version packs a lot of saturated-fat heavy calories. But this new take uses avocado to give a satisfying flavor and texture using healthy, monounsaturated fat. Serve with some whole grain crackers and crudités.
02. Sliders are a great way to portion-control a heavy dish. But if your party spread is already full of bread, Lauren's Latest Sweet Potato Pulled Pork Sliders are a tasty way to nix the bun. Instead of using frozen fries, make those taters fresh! Slice 1 or 2 sweet potatoes (depending on size and number of sliders) into ¼-inch thick slices; toss potatoes in 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, salt, and pepper and spread in one layer on a baking sheet; roast at 425 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes, turning halfway through.
03. No Biggie's Greek Salad Skewers are a fast, healthy, and impressive way to serve veggies. These skewers are perfect for dunking into little shot glasses of homemade dressing. Try my recipe for Yogurt Lemon Dill Dressing: To make 1.5 cups of dressing, blend together 1 cup Greek yogurt, juice of 1 lemon, ½ cup chopped fresh dill, ¼ cucumber (peeled and diced), 1 clove chopped garlic, 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
04. Get all the crispy, salted goodness of standard chips without all the sodium, fat, and calories by substituting with Food Babbles' Butternut Squash Chips. A great vehicle for dips or healthy snacking on their own!
05. Crazy for Crust's adorable Mini Brownie Football Pies are the perfectly sized sweet indulgence for your party plate. Limiting treats to about 200 calories per day can help with weight maintenance. And it allows you enough calories to enjoy all those nutritious foods you need in order to stay fueled and fit. These bites come in at about 150 calories a pop—score!
06. Mix-and-Match Baked Chicken Fingers are a creative change of pace from the same old buffalo wings or fried chicken fingers. Skinless chicken breasts boost protein among what can often be a carb-heavy game day snack selection. You can also make these chicken fingers even smaller (which may lower baking time slightly). That way, you can sample more varieties while still sticking to a modest portion.
07. Make cauliflower fans out of your most stubborn vegetable critics with Half Baked Harvest's cheesy Roasted Cauliflower White Pizza Dip. Cruciferous, fiber-rich cauliflower combined with tasty pizza toppings makes for a hearty, vegetable-rich dip. Serve it with toasted pita triangles and sprinkle with oregano and large slices of bell peppers.