Game On

07 Sep 2017

Strategy and tips for eating healthy at tailgating events


As autumn approaches, September and October finally usher in half-tolerable temperatures for Wilmington.  The cooler weather invites friends and family to enjoy outdoor events, spirited football games, soccer, and eating outdoors.  The perfect formula for a fun-filled day involves toting along a cooler, barbeque grill and baskets of food, and then serving up a feast from the trunk of your vehicle.

This all-American fall ritual may seem a little intimidating to the health conscious or to those watching their weight.  There’s no reason that your tailgate picnic should sideline your weight control and fitness efforts.  Coaches don’t wait until game time to plan their strategy and neither should you.

Pre-Event Meal

Before the festivities begin, have a small snack that contains protein and fiber so you’ll be less tempted to overeat.  Healthy light snacks – yogurt and fruit, cereal and low-fat milk, one half turkey sandwich.

Warm Up

Choose hummus dip instead of high fat cheese dips.  Use veggies for dipping, lay off the chips and nachos. Eating from a plate rather than mindlessly grazing from the buffet, will help you track how much you’re eating.

Main Event

Don’t get sidelined with traditional tailgate fare – wings, pizza, burgers and dogs.  Go for lean meats, like 93 percent lean ground turkey or ground beef.  Mustard is a better choice; it’s lower in calories and carbs than ketchup.

Winning Recipes

Spiced Chickpea – Yogurt Dip

Serves 12 (Makes 1 ½ cups)

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

6 Tbsp. 2% plain Greek-style yogurt

2 – 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 ¼ tsp. minced garlic

1 ½ - 2 tsp. Moroccan seasoning

  1. Mix chickpeas, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, and seasoning in a food processor.  Puree until smooth.
  2. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with pita chips or sliced veggies.

44 calories per serving.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Poppers

Serves 6

6 small new potatoes

¾ oz. grated cheddar cheese (about 3 Tbsp.)

2 Tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream

1 medium slice bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 Tbsp. fresh chives or parsley, chopped

  1. Heat oven to 425
  2. Cut potatoes in half crosswise.  Arrange cut side down on small baking sheet, coated with olive oil spray.  Spray tops and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast until golden brown on underside, about 20 minutes.  Remove if tender; if not, flip over and roast about 5 minutes longer.  Trim bottom if necessary to prevent potato from rolling and let cook. (Potatoes may be roasted 8 hours ahead and reheated.)
  4. Top potatoes with cheddar cheese.  Bake about 3 minutes until cheese melts.  Arrange on serving tray, top with sour cream, bacon and chives.

24 calories per serving.

Grilled Mustard Barbecue Chicken Wings

Serves 8

1 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 ½ pounds chicken wings, split, tips removed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tsp vegetable oil for the grill

½ cup mustard barbeque sauce

  1. Preheat grill to medium.  Combine brown sugar, paprika, cumin and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Season the wings with salt and pepper and toss with the vegetable oil in a large bowl.  Add the spice mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  2. Oil the grill grates; arrange the wings on the grill and cover.  Cook, turning the wings occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, 20-25 minutes.  Remove to a large bowl and toss with the barbeque sauce.

230 calories per serving.

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