Even if it’s still 90 degrees outside, fall is definitely on its way because college football has started back! Here in the south, college football is a big deal. Everybody has a team they root for. I personally went to the University of Alabama and love watching the Crimson Tide play. But whether you root for the Vols, the Aggies, the Tigers, or the Bulldogs, I think we can all agree that the tailgate party is almost as important as the actual game. And who is the biggest player at the tailgate party? The food!! Tailgates across the nation are spread with a smorgasbord of sandwiches, meats, snacks, beverages and desserts of all kinds. You don’t typically find a whole lot of healthy options on these tailgate tables though and with football season lasting until January, that can mean growing waistlines and unintended weight gain. So how can we as dietitians fight against this? What healthy items can we bring to the table that aren’t the cliché veggie or fruit tray? Well, I have done some research and come up with a few options!
1) Stuffed Mini Peppers: This is a perfect sized appetizer to bring to a tailgate party. The mini pepper “boat” provides vitamins/minerals and has less calories than a bread based bottom but is stuffed with savory ground beef and melted cheese that will satisfy even the manliest of men.
2) Kabobs: These can be fixed any way you want, based on preferences and food availability. You could try chicken, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil for an Italian theme or chicken, pineapple, onion, cheese for a Hawaiian theme! If you are vegetarian, just grill up an assortment of veggies! Peppers, corn, onions, even eggplant!
3) Black Bean and Corn Guacamole: Every tailgate party needs a good dip and who doesn’t love avocado these days? Avocados are already packed with fiber and nutrients and adding black beans and corn to the mix only kicks it up a notch. A definite win.
4) White Chocolate, Strawberry and Oatmeal Cookies: You will make lots of friends if you are the dietitian that brings dessert to a party. The oatmeal base is lighter than a cake or brownie base and has added fiber and nutrients. You can even switch out the fruit inside the match the colors of your supported team (blueberries for Auburn or Michigan, etc.)
Having a few healthy choices available at your party will help balance out calories ingested. Other tips (for you, your family or your clients) when it comes to moderating intake at tailgate parties include:
1) Scan the entire area first: Look at all the is bring offered before getting a plate. Decide what ACTUALLY sounds good to you and remember you don’t have to eat everything just because it is there. For example, you may like guacamole, but on that particular day you may be more in the mood for a sandwich and chips. Go with what sounds good to you.
2) Dial into hunger/fullness cues: Decide how hungry you are and portion your food based on that determination. Eat slowly and stop when you feel full. You may feel full before you get to dessert and that’s ok. Don’t yourself past your limits. If you really want dessert but have reached your fullness level, give it some time and come back for it later.
All this talk of food and football has got me ready for the weekend! I hope it has for you too! Head over to the recipe page to find another healthy option to bring to your next gathering. Happy tailgating! And Roll Tide 😊.