9 News- Healthy Tailgating Foods

‘Tis the season for football, and with football comes tailgating foods. These can be tough to navigate. Watch my today’s 9 News segment to catch some tips and recipes for this season! Oh and see if you can pick up on my subliminal messages during the segment (boomer sooner!).


Healthy Game Day Tips and Recipes

‘Tis the season for football!  Whether you are into college, pro, or maybe even minor league, the difficulty remains the same… navigating the food and beverages.  With the following tips and recipes, you will be prepped and ready to make healthy game day choices in no time.


  1. Be Prepared.  Never show up to a party or tailgate starving.  It’s smart to eat a meal or snack before heading out to make sure that the temptations at the party don’t get the best of you.  No one ever made a good decision while hungry.  Make sure your meal or snack contains both fiber and protein to keep you full and from overeating at the party.
  2. Stay Hydrated.  Plain water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water make great drinks.  When we are thirsty we tend to overeat.  Also, having a drink in your hand all day can help to ward off those naggers from constantly offering your more food and beverages.  Remember that calories from alcohol don’t only add up quickly, but they also increase hunger!
  3. BYO Food.  Do not rely on other people to bring healthy snacks, because chances are they won’t!  Fruit trays, veggie trays, or the recipes below all make great tailgating snacks.  
  4. Beat the Buffet.  Survey all offerings before loading up your plate to make sure you don’t fill up on the “bad” stuff and skimp on the “good.”  Eat from a plate instead of continuously grazing from the buffet.  This will help you to keep track of how much you are eating. 

The following are your typical high calorie game day meals followed by a healthy, tasty swap!

Calorie Loaded Football Meal:
Dales Pale Ale, Cheese Burger, Potato Salad
Nutrition: 900 calories, 45 gm fat

Trimmed Down Football Meal:
Coors Light, Jalapeño Turkey Burger, Healthy Potato Skins
Nutrition: 500 calories, 13 gm fat

Calorie Loaded Football Meal:
Vodka Tonic, Chicken Wings, Potato Chips
Nutrition: 750 calories, 35 gm fat

Trimmed Down Football Meal:
Vodka Soda, Baked Chicken “Wings”, Microwave Sweet Potato Chips
Nutrition: 400 calories, 8 gm fat    


Microwave Sweet Potato Chips
•    Cooking spray
•    1 (14-ounce) sweet potato, very thinly sliced, divided
•    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
•    1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
•    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit a microwave-safe plate; coat parchment lightly with cooking spray. Arrange one-fourth of the potato slices in a single layer on parchment. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper. Microwave at power level 9 for 4 minutes. Check for crispness. Continue to cook at 30-second intervals until done. Repeat procedure with remaining potato, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Healthy Potato Skins
•    6 small potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
•    2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
•    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•    2 scallions, sliced (white and green parts separated)
•    2 ounces sliced deli ham, chopped
•    1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Bake potatoes on baking sheet 25-30 minutes or until tender; set aside to cool. Preheat broiler with rack in highest position.
3. Halve cooked potatoes lengthwise. Scoop out flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch border; transfer potato flesh (about 2 cups) to a bowl. Mash potato with sour cream and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Fold in scallion whites and ham; spoon filling into potato shells.
4. Arrange filled potato skins on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with scallion greens before serving, if desired.

Baked Chicken “Wings” 
•    2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
•    3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce, plus more for serving
•    1 clove garlic, minced
•    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
•    3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
•    Canola oil (in spray bottle)
1.    Place the chicken in a large pot and fill the pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and then continue to boil for 10 minutes. Drain.
2.    Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and broth and set aside.
3.    Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet or broiler pan, which has been lightly coated with cooking spray, and broil 5 to 6 inches from the flame, until it begins to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the strips over and broil until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes more. 
4.    Using tongs, add chicken to the sauce and stir to evenly coat. Transfer the strips to a baking sheet, drizzle with the reserved sauce, and toss well to coat. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the strips over and broil an additional 1 to 2 minutes, to heat the chicken and sauce together.
5.    Serve the broiled Buffalo “wings” with celery sticks and extra hot sauce on the side.

Jalapeño Feta Turkey Burgers
•    2 pounds lean ground turkey
•    1/2 cup finely diced onion (white, red or yellow)
•    2 garlic cloves, finely minced
•    1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
•    1 teaspoon ground cumin
•    1 teaspoon paprika
•    Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1/2 tablespoon or so)
•    1/2 cup feta cheese
•    1 teaspoon salt
•    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For Serving:
•    6 whole wheat hamburger buns or whole wheat English muffins
•    Tomatoes
•    Lettuce
•    Whatever other veggies your heart desires
1.    Heat grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees if you have a temperature gauge on the grill). If needed, oil the grates to keep the burgers from sticking.
2.    In a large bowl, mix all of the burger ingredients together until well combined. 
3.    Shape the meat mixture into 6 patties.
4.    Grill the meat patties for 5 to 6 minutes per side, more or less, depending on how thick the turkey burgers are. Tent with foil after removing from the grill and let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. Serve with desired toppings.

Lauren Marek, RD is a registered dietitian at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.  Follow her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LaurenMarekRD) and Instagram @thedessertdietitian for nutrition tips!



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