by Brooke Baker, MS, RD, LD
A tailgate party is a great time to enjoy friends, football, and food. Do your guests a favor by serving some healthier options at your next event. A smarter tailgating menu is easy; but does take a little planning.
Start by examining your current menu. Better choices are easy to find and may be even easier to prepare. Let this chart be your guide to help reduce fat, cholesterol, and sodium, while increasing antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
If you usually serve: Chicken Wings, Try this instead: Marinated grilled chicken
Boneless, skinless chicken can be marinated in advance and will cook quickly when thrown on a hot grill. Use a meat thermometer to avoid over- or under-cooking; chicken breasts should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
If you usually serve: Bratwurst, Try this instead: Turkey sliders
Ground turkey is a lean meat that makes an excellent burger. Slice buns width-wise and toast on the grill during the last few minutes of cooking for a nice crust.
See recipe below.
If you usually serve: Take-out pizza, Try this instead: _Vegetable pizza
This veggie pizza requires no cooking and holds up well when made in advance. Use any raw veggies you have on hand.
If you usually serve: Nachos with cheese, Try this instead: Baked chips and salsa
Fried corn chips and cheese sauce can be easily replaced by a delicious salsa.
If you usually serve: Cocktail wieners, Try this instead: Caprese skewers
Skewers of tomato, mozzarella, and basil drizzled in a balsamic vinaigrette make a for a beautiful presentation while adding calcium and vitamin C. Use mozzarella sparingly to minimize fat content.
See recipe below.
If you usually serve: Potato chips, Try this instead: Hummus and whole wheat Pita
Hummus is a traditional Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas. Contributing fiber, protein, and healthy fats, this dip is a healthful crowd-pleaser.
If you usually serve: Beef chili, Try this instead: Pumpkin chili
The unexpected addition of pumpkin contributes rich flavor and aroma to a fall favorite. Deep orange vegetables like pumpkins are loaded with beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Use leaner beef or turkey, or omit meat altogether for a vegetarian chili.
To complete the menu and show your spirit, try using bamboo skewers to build fruit kabobs in your team’s colors. Following are some suggestions to help you create your color combination:
- Blue or navy: Blueberries
- Gold or yellow: pineapple
- Green: grapes, kiwi
- White: honeydew melon
- Orange: cantaloupe, orange sections, mango
- Red: watermelon, strawberries, cherries, raspberries
- Purple: grapes
- Black: blackberries
Thread on skewers, keep cold to serve.
Confetti Bean Salad
- 1 can (15 ounces) red or black beans
- 1 can (10 ounces) corn
- ½ small green bell pepper. Chopped
- 1 cup salsa
Drain corn and beans. Set aside. Chop green pepper. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Serving size: ½ cup
Servings per recipe: 6
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrate: 19 g
Protein: 4 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 450 mg
Taco in a Bag
- 12 (1 ounce) bags baked Doritos
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- ½ package taco seasoning mix
- Lettuce, chopped
- Tomato, chopped
- Onion, chopped
- Fat free sour cream
Brown hamburger in a skillet and drain well. Add taco seasoning and ½ cup water and simmer. Crunch the chips in the bag and add a spoonful of desired garnishes. Eat taco out of the bag.
Makes 12 servings
Fat: 8 g
Protein” 10 g
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fiber 2.5 g
Sodium: 217 mg
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 packet fajita seasoning mix
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
- 1 ½ cup low fat shredded cheese
- 1 Tablespoon bacon bits
Pre heat the broiler. Cut the chicken into small cubes and prepare with the fajita seasoning mix. Broil 5 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink on the inside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, mix the seasoned chicken, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, and onion. Cook slowly and stir 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and chicken is thoroughly cooked. Layer ½ of each tortilla with chicken mixture and bacon bits. Top with cheese and fold the tortilla. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Makes 20 servings
Total Fat: 3.5 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Protein: 9 g
Total Carbohydrate: 12 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 180 mg
Sweet Potato Sticks
- 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds) peeled
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Non- fat cooking spray
Makes 8 servings
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Protein: 3 g
Total Carbohydrate: 25 g
Sodium: 75 mg
Amazing Avocado Guacamole
- 2 medium avocados, peeled and seeded
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons onion, minced
- 1 or 2 small chili pepper (any variety), minced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 2 Tablespoons cilantro (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
Mash avocados and combine with the lime juice. Stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or cover guacamole with plastic wrap by placing wrap directly on dip-air will oxidize the avocado and turn it a brown color.
Makes 20 servings, 2 Tablespoons each
Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Total Carbohydrate: 2 g
Protein: 1 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 60 mg
- 1 can (10 ounce) white chunk chicken
- 3 cups cooked white beans
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes
- 4 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ¾ cup green pepper, chopped
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 6 Tablespoons reduced fat cheese
- Baked Tortilla Chips
In a soup pot, add the chicken, beans, tomatoes and chicken broth. Cover and simmer over medium heat. In a skillet (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) add the onions, pepper, garlic, and celery; sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add the vegetable mixture to the soup pot. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Simmer for 15 minutes. Check the vegetables for tenderness. Spoon into individual bowls, sprinkle with cheese, serve with baked chips on the side.
Makes 6 servings
Total Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Protein: 25 g
Carbohydrate: 55 g
Fiber: 12 g
Sodium: 485 mg
The West Virginia Family Nutrition Program (FNP) is a statewide outreach program that focuses on nutrition, food and physical activity through multiple projects, community-based initiatives and key partnerships. FNP prioritizes accountability and documents its impact on related behaviors of West Virginia’s limited resource families. As a visible and critical part of West Virginia University and WVU Extension Service, FNP maintains a strong research base and uses an experiential, facilitative approach to delivering information to the people of West Virginia.