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Healthy food ideas for tailgate season (and 3 recipes to get you started)

For most of us, the tailgate portion of a football game means some aggressively unhealthy eating opportunities. This does not have to be the case. When fall rolls around, the topic of healthy tailgating is on the mind of the health conscious football fan. Score big points for your waistline with these delicious tailgating recipes — Nebraska style.

1. Burgers: Nebraska fans want beef! There is no need to sacrifice that. The secret to a great healthy burger lays in the right ingredients, proper cooking, and flavorful toppings. Use 90-percent or leaner ground beef for the lowest fat option.

2. Dips: Creamy, cheese laden dips often lead to excess calories and blow your diet plan quickly. Rethink your approach and serve a dip you can feel good about by using high fiber beans, plenty of produce and flavorful herbs and spices. Serve alongside whole grain crackers or pita chips or veggie for the biggest nutrition punch.

3. Snacks: Tailgating snack food does not have to be cookies, candy and other sweet treats. Make a nutrient rich trail mix full of high fiber snacks (popcorn and whole grain cereal), protein (nuts, seeds) and dried fruit for a little sweetness.

For your next tailgate, try one of these easy-to-prepare and easy-to transport recipes that won’t cause you to stray too far from your healthy eating patterns.


Zesty Barbecue Burgers

• 1 pound ground beef (93-percent lean or leaner)

• 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

• 4 tablespoons barbecue sauce, divided

• 4 slices white cheddar, pepper jack, smoked gouda or provolone cheese

• 4 whole wheat hamburger buns or pretzel rolls, split, toasted

• Lettuce leaves, tomato slices and red onion slices

1. Combine ground beef, onion and 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Shape into four 1/2-inch thick patties.

2. Place patties on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8 to 10 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 7 to 9 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F, turning occasionally. About 1 minute before burgers are done, brush with remaining 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce and top with cheese.

3. Line bottom half of each bun with lettuce leaves, red onion and tomato, as desired; top with burger. Close sandwiches.


Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa

• 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

• 1 ( 11 oz) can corn, drained

• 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

• 1 small red pepper, diced

• 1 jalepeno, seeded and diced (optional)

• 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

• ¼ cup red onion, diced

• 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

• 2 ripe avocados, diced

Mix black beans, corn, tomatoes, red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, red onion, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, salt, and black pepper in a bowl; fold avocado into the mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, putting it right on top of salsa to prevent browning; chill at least 2 hours. Serve with whole grain pita chips, baked tortillas or cucumber slices.


Powerful Popcorn Trail Mix

Powerful Popcorn Trail Mix

8 cups (or 1 large bag) of Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Sweet and Salty Popcorn or another ‘kettle corn’ style pre popped popcorn

3 cups cheerios (any flavor)

1 cup chopped dried apricots

1 cup lightly salted cashews

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds

Place popcorn in a large bowl. Add cheerios, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to bowl and stir to mix.

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