One of the best parts of football season is hosting a tailgate party to whoop it up before the big game. But a typical tailgate spread can sack the best nutrition intentions by piling up loads of calories and fat in just one meal.
Kick off your next party with some lighter versions of tailgate favorites. Add some new players to your menu lineup, too.
Score points with these winning entrees:
Experience the thrill of the grill. Grill skewers threaded with alternating chunks of marinated lean sirloin steak or chicken breast, zucchini, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and mushrooms. Colorful and fun to eat!
Take the chill off with chili. Make chili with lean beef sirloin, extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast. Load it with lots of beans and veggies like tomatoes, green peppers and onions. Serve with reduced-fat shredded cheese and light sour cream.
Pull off a lean and mean pulled pork sandwich. Break out the slow cooker (crock pot) to make pork tenderloin in tangy barbecue sauce. Use your favorite sauce recipe or trim calories with a bottled "light" version. Shred cooked pork and pile on toasted whole-wheat buns.
Play defense against extra calories and fat with these simple swaps:
Make burgers with 95% extra-lean ground beef or ground turkey breast.
Barbecue chicken breasts instead of legs and wings (remove the skin before eating).
Opt for turkey or chicken bratwurst instead of pork brats.
Use light sour cream in dips and reduced-fat cheese on burgers instead of their full-fat counterparts.
Mix light mayo into potato salad and coleslaw. Or try a decidedly different side of crunchy broccoslaw tossed with reduced-fat poppy seed dressing and topped with toasted sunflower seeds.
Team spirit—say it with produce. Serve a platter of fruits and veggies to match your team's colors. Red and white? Use button mushrooms and red bell pepper strips. Blue and green? Use blueberries and kiwi slices. Continue the color theme by tinting low-fat dip with spices or food coloring.
Don't pack it in like a linebacker. Portion out your plate, filling at least half with fruits and veggies, one-quarter with the entrée and one-quarter with a grain. To help keep portions and calories in line, offer mini-versions of favorites such as turkey burger "sliders."
Take one for the team. If you're a tailgate guest, offer to bring a fruit or veggie platter, or a light appetizer, salad or side dish. That way, you'll have something to fall back on and won't be as tempted by other options. Others will appreciate it, too!
Keep the focus on fun, not food. Before the big kick-off, warm up with a game of tailgate touch football. You'll have fun and burn a few calories, too. Keep the focus on catching up with friends instead of the spread. To halt mindless munching, keep your hands busy by holding a low-calorie beverage.