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Healthy Tailgating

By Jodie Parus

healthy tailgatingIt is officially Football season! College and pro teams have both put their first games in the books and fans of both have tailgating and cookouts on their minds. Tailgating is a big deal whether you are on site for the game or enjoying it from home. Popular foods include wings, hamburgers, hotdogs, chips and dips.

You don't have to eliminate the traditional favorites in order to have a healthier tailgate. With a little planning, and a few tweaks to favorite recipes, you can reduce fat, cholesterol, and sodium while increasing vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a great alternative to the traditional wings that are generally much higher in fat due to the addition of skin and breading.  Chicken breasts can be marinated in the "wing sauce" of your choice and simply grilled or try dicing the chicken, tossing in a buffalo sauce and add along with veggies to a wrap. You will be consuming a lean protein with whole grains and vegetables that will keep you fueled for four quarters.

Ground turkey, chicken or bison can be used for burgers rather than the traditional ground beef. However, there is nothing wrong with the conventional burger if you use an all-natural lean ground beef. Where things start to go awry are with our topping and condiment choices. Focus on piling on the veggies rather than an abundance of sauces and cheese.

Chip and dip choices generally include potato chips and creamy dips or corn chips with a cheese dip.  Substitutions would be cut vegetables and hummus and baked chips with salsa. Hummus is a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats; while baked chips and salsa will provide a refreshing snack, while maintaining the crunch that is desired. Finally, homemade guacamole is a healthy choice as well and can be used as a dip for carrots, cucumber, and celery.

Tailgates and cookouts are a great time to enjoy, football, friends and food. They are commonly heavy in the protein (meat) department and lacking in vegetables and fruits.  With a little planning, you can provide a healthier and more diverse offering, worth cheering for.

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