Updated: Jul 9, 2022
We’re well into the football season and whether your team runs plays with pint-size players, the Friday night lights group or the NFL, dishing up good things to eat is a big part of the game. Game day snacks are often not the best choice for the well-being lifestyle. Now I am not trying to pre-empt your football party, my goal is to share options that are just as tempting but will score big if you’re playing for better health. With pre-planning and a little creativity, you can turn your tailgate into a spread of good-for-you choices.
The successful tailgater makes planning a priority. You’ll need to have on-hand the essentials for safe food handling, handwashing or sanitizing, and the gear to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Also pack two sets of utensils to make sure you have separate utensils for handling uncooked and cooked foods. If you’re firing up the grill, make sure you bring a metal pail or heat-safe container to douse hot coals safely. Include garbage bags, and antibacterial wipes for clean-up. You should also bring a first-aid kit—you can buy one or put one together that contains Band-Aids, Neosporin, and alcohol wipes, sterile gauze and bug repellant. This is a general list; you may also want to add items that are your personal must haves for game day.
Now in planning the food, take a look at your team ‘s colors—do the team colors lend themselves to a play on what to add to the menu? For example:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Black, White and Red: Blackened Chicken Tenders, Fresh Tomato Salsa & Baked White Tortilla Chips
Miami Dolphins, Green, White Orange: Kale Salad, Carrot Curls, Chopped Jicama and Ranch Dressing
Green Bay Packers, Green and Gold: Low-fat Spinach Dip, Zucchini and Summer Squash Slices & Pita Triangles
San Francisco 49ers, Red & Gold: Turkey Chili, Shredded Cheddar Cheese & Greek-Style Plain Yogurt
If it is challenging to match the team colors with menu items, some of the regional foods may add up to a winning play.
Buffalo Bills—Oven-Baked Chicken Wings, Low-fat Blue Cheese Dressing & Celery Sticks
Chicago Bears-Turkey Frankfurters in whole wheat buns with toppings i.e. chopped onion, relish, mustard
New Orleans Saints—Red Beans, Brown Rice & Toasted Garlic-Flavored Pita Triangles
Dallas Cowboys—Lean Beef Brisket Tacos with Fresh Salsa
Beverages are also important. You want to make sure your group consumes plenty of fluids and won’t become dehydrated. Well-being libations include mocktails, alcohol-free beer, low sugar fruit-based drinks, lemon or limeade, vegetable juice, club soda, carbonated water, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite Zero, fruit water or VitaminWater zero. Any of these can be paired with healthy fan foods to round out the tailgate menu.
The game is the main event. Plan the day to arrive and set up the food about two hours before kick-off. You don’t want to rush through the pre-game rituals, fellowship and bragging that is part of the tailgate experience. Once everyone on the team’s bandwagon has eaten, make sure your area is clean and you’ve packed a few snacks and beverages that are easy to reach for the post-game celebration.
Take Away: In playing the game for good health, add wholesome food choices to your menu when entertaining.
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