Healthy Tailgating and Football Parties


With the start of September and fall close behind, football season is back in full swing. Whether it’s national, college, or high school football, most of us will likely tailgate or host/attend a football party over the next few months. However those weekly football games can pack on the calories and pounds if not careful. With a little time and a plan in place, you can still enjoy the football season healthfully while rooting on your favorite team.

The key to a great tailgating or football party is the protein. Whether it be hamburgers, brats, chicken or hot dogs on the grill there are ways to make it leaner. For hamburgers, choose the leanest version or make patties from 95% lean ground beef. Choosing 95% lean versus 70% lean can saves 100 calories and 13 grams of fat (about four from saturated or the bad fat) for a four ounce serving. Turkey or black bean burgers can also be a lower calorie/fat alternatives or turkey dogs. Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts to save on saturated fat and grill versus deep-fry. A meatless option to try is chili with beans which is loaded with fiber.

To complete a healthy protein option, choose a bun made from 100% whole grain or whole wheat to add fiber or use lettuce as a wrap or eat only half of the bun. Be cautious with toppings on burgers, brats, or hot dogs such as bacon, full-fat cheeses, or fried onions as these can continue to add calories. Use low-fat cheese made from part-skim milk or ultra-thin cheese slices and add some veggies such as lettuce, tomato and onion which are naturally low in calories. Try hummus, avocado, or a Greek yogurt-based spreads which are higher in mono- and polyunsaturated or the good fats.

For sides such as pasta salads, substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise or sour cream-based dishes. Use whole wheat pasta and add lots of vegetables for filler. One of the greatest options to have on hand is a fruit or vegetable tray and fill up on these prior to some of the higher calorie options. Instead of the usual chips and high calorie dip try guacamole, salsa, or bean salsa with whole-grain tortilla chips. You can even make your own tortilla chips.

And as always, be cautious about food safety to prevent foodborne illnesses. Raw ground beef and pork should be cooked to 160 degrees F and all poultry to 165 degrees F. Hot food should be kept above 140 degrees F and cold foods should be kept at 41 degrees F or lower. In order to keep them cold use an insulated cooler or use plenty of frozen ice packs and keep the cooler in the shade. Throw out any perishable items before going into the game as they should not be left out longer than two hours and in hot weather, this time decreases to one hour. Bring antibacterial hand sanitizer or wipes to use prior to eating especially after handling raw meat.
Don’t stress out about the extra calories you may eat on game day which could ruin the whole week; instead try some of the options above and worry about cheering on your favorite team instead!

Try out this healthy alternative for chips and dip from which has been UHH-dietitian tested and approved!

Guacamole with Chipotle Tortilla Chips
Guacamole Ingredients:guacamole
• 3 tomatillos
• 1/3 cup chopped onion
• 1/3 cup chopped plum tomato
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 ripe peeled avocados, seeded and coarsely mashed
• 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, minced
Chips Ingredients:
• 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
• Cooking spray
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. To prepare chips, cut each tortilla into 8 wedges; arrange tortilla wedges in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle wedges with 1/2 teaspoon salt and chile powder; lightly coat wedges with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until wedges are crisp and lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes.
3. To prepare guacamole, peel papery husk from tomatillos; wash, core, and finely chop. Combine tomatillos, onion, and remaining ingredients; stir well. Serve guacamole with chips. Makes 16 servings (2 Tbsp guacamole with 4 tortilla chips)

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 57 calories, 2.6 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 8.3 g carbohydrates, 1.7 g fiber, 207 mg sodium

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