Healthy tailgating – it’s possible!

September 23, 2014 Providence Health Team

Bring on the pre-game party food. While tailgating fare is super tasty, it’s typically not that healthy. We’ve gathered some ideas to help you lighten up your favorite football food and still enjoy the game.

On the grill

Barbecued pork tenderloin. A 3-ounce serving of barbecued pork ribs has (easily) more than 300 calories and 25 grams of fat. So skip the ribs. Grill lean pork tenderloin instead. You’ll cut the calories by 60% and the fat by 80%. Slice it thin and pile it high on a wheat bun. Your figure and your heart will thank you.

Dry rub or mop your tenderloin with a homemade vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Most store-bought sauces have sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup) which add calories, as well as artificial thickeners, colors and flavors.

Flank steak. Flank steak is lean and full of flavor. And preparing it couldn’t be easier. Marinate the beef overnight in olive oil, soy sauce, garlic and red wine vinegar. Heat your grill, cook the steak a few minutes on each side (for medium rare). Let it rest for 10 minutes to reabsorb juices. Then, carve it thinly at an angle and across the grain. Serve it with grilled veggies or a nice salad and you’ve got a perfect pre-game lunch.

Chicken and turkey sausages. Chicken and turkey sausages have half the calories and sodium – and up to 60 percent less fat – than pork or beef. Grill them up guilt-free, and serve with mustard and chopped onions on a whole-grain bun or wrap.

Flatbread pizza. Think pizza can only be made in the oven? Think again! Make flavorful whole-wheat flat-bread pizzas right on your tailgating grill. Whip up your own whole-wheat dough or buy pre-made dough wheels. Brush the dough with olive oil and cook on a hot grill (turn half-way through).

Top with low-fat mozzarella, smoked turkey chunks, tomato slices, avocado and fresh herbs like basil and oregano. A little grated Parmesan lends a salty bite and red pepper flakes add a metabolism-boosting kick.

For the vegetarian tailgater in your group, try Greek pizza with feta cheese, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers and eggplant.

Hearty sides

Buffalo “wings.” Forget the frozen packaged buffalo wings. They’re deep-fried and drenched in butter and hot sauce. Instead, make your own healthy boneless “wings” using white meat chicken tenders. Dredge the tenders in well-seasoned whole-wheat flour (with a touch of corn meal for extra crunch). Quickly pan-fry in a bit of olive oil. Then, toss your “wings” in hot sauce, and serve with fat-free or light blue cheese (or ranch) dip.

Nachos. Smoked chicken and black bean nachos (topped with low-fat cheese, lettuce and salsa) are loaded with protein, fiber, calcium and antioxidant-rich lycopene. Make the chips healthier by making your own. Just cut corn tortillas into quarters, spritz them with olive oil and crisp in a 350 degree oven. Salt lightly while still warm.

Vegetarian chili. On cold game days, serve bowls of vegetarian chili. Cook fiber-rich beans (black, pintos and red and white kidneys) with chopped onions, tomatoes and bell peppers. Top with cheddar cheese and low-fat sour cream. Serve with crusty rustic bread rubbed with a fresh garlic clove (increases blood flow to help keep you warm).

Get more ideas for healthy salads, dips and drinks.

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