Monday, September 14, 2009

7 Healthy Tailgate Party Food Swaps

We've bid farewell to summer and warmly welcomed college football season. That means it's far from time to pack up our grills. If anything, it's all the more reason to fire them up! If you're one of the many who spend your Saturdays tailgating or throwing football parties at home, you know all too well how easy it is to create a buffet of food that is about as healthy as what they're serving in the stadium. And if you're also one of the many who is trying to get in shape before the holiday season, then you know you can't afford to spend the next 12 or so Saturdays eating like a linebacker.

With that in mind, we have some ideas to make healthy tailgating enjoyable, delicious and just as satisfying. It's entirely possible that the guys won't even notice or mind!

As you grocery shop for snacks and cookout grub, consider some of these healthy tailgating recipes and food swaps. Odds are, they’ll taste better and no one will recognize the difference as they polish off a platter of leaner foods.

Pork Bratwurst for Turkey Brats
It’s a difference of 450 calories and 37 grams of fat for the pork, versus 160 calories and 9 grams of fat for the turkey. Still boil in beer and soak in mustard and they’re really quite tasty.

Burgers for Chicken Sandwiches
A 6 oz. angus beef patty yields 500 calories and 43 grams of fat, whereas a 6 oz. grilled chicken breast yields 281 calories and 6 grams of fat. Season any way you like, and still add a slice of reduced-fat cheese!

Cheese Dip for Salsa
Choose a baked corn chip and feel free to dip into fresh or store-bought salsa. Just two tablespoons of cheese dip has 40 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Hearty salsas offer about 10-15 calories and zero fat per two tablespoons. Also consider guacamole or hummus.

Regular Beer for Light Beer
You never want to drink your calories, but if you're going to have a few cold ones while tailgating, make them light beers. The average light beer has 103 calories, compared to 153 in your average regular beer. Also, alternate a bottle of water between beers to stay hydrated and avoid filling up on empty calories.

White Buns for Whole Grain Buns
You want to limit white, processed foods anywhere you can, so start with swapping your burger and hot dog buns. You'll be adding some essential fiber, vitamins and minerals that get stripped in the processing of white breads. Plus, they taste pretty good, too!

No Fruits and Veggies for Some Fruits and Veggies
This can be accomplished a number of ways and won't feel like a tea party. Throw bell peppers, corn on the cob, onions, asparagus, and zucchini on the grill and serve with your entree. Make fruit kabobs by alternating grapes, strawberries, melon, and kiwi on skewers. Grilled pineapple complements grilled chicken well, and grilled peaches with honey make an irresistible dessert. In the colder months, serve thick vegetable soups or stews loaded in veggies.

Junk Snacks for Healthier Snacks
Everyone wants finger food and snacks, and it's OK to oblige. If you put out cheddar cheese crackers, choose the whole grain variety. If you put out a bowl of nuts, make them fresh, raw nuts, rather than the over-salted canned variety. If someone wants chocolate, make it a dark chocolate low in added sugar. The compromises are there, you just have to find them.

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