With football season in full swing, sports fans' weekends are full of the four "game day food groups": pizza, wings, dips and beer. A typical tailgate spread could quickly add up to more than a day's worth of calories and two days' of unhealthy saturated fat! The good news? With a few simple swaps, you can avoid turning into a linebacker. Here are 5 winning strategies for football fare that is tasty, fun and healthy.
Veggie "Chips" and Dips
Instead of greasy potato chips (it's impossible to eat just a few!), I serve carrots, fresh broccoli, snap peas, bell peppers and other veggies that offer satisfying crunch with just a few calories. One cup of veggies comes in at under 25 calories, compared to 150 calories or more in a handful of potato or tortilla chips. This one simple swap can save you hundreds of calories. Serve with a fiber-rich bean dip or low-calorie salsa. Or, if guacamole is a must-have, try this game-winning Skinny Guacamole recipe.
Vegetarian Three Bean Chili
A hearty, wholesome bowl of chili is one of the best meals for watching the big game. I make this Vegetarian Three Bean Chili in minutes using ingredients that are always stocked in my pantry like canned chilies, beans and tomatoes. It's a delicious and nutritious dish that will quickly become a fan favorite in your home. Plus, studies show that all produce--canned, fresh or frozen--are nutritionally similar, and in some cases, canned or frozen may have more nutrients.
Be careful of "mindless" snacks that you can grab and eat without thinking. Instead, go for in-shell pistachios. Opening the shell of these tasty nuts can help slow down consumption, and pistachios pack in more protein and fiber than most other popular snack nuts.
Skinny Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Forget the subs! In place of bread, use leaf lettuce, and you'll cut at least 160 calories from traditional chicken salad sandwiches. Save even more calories by making your chicken mix with just a few tablespoons of light mayo and Dijon or honey mustard. Boost flavor and nutrition by adding grapes, apples and chopped celery.
Looking to fill up, not out? Make popcorn your friend. You might be shocked to hear that 3 cups of air-popped popcorn is just 100 calories. Plus, you'll get more than 2 grams of filling fiber. Be sure to keep your popcorn light by skipping the butter topping. For extra flavor, sprinkle with 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of salt.