Football season is finally here again. You've updated your television set to the latest, high-def set, and you even upgraded your jersey collection to account for your new favourite player. But there's only one factor that truly makes or breaks game day: food. When we think of the traditional football feasts, our mouths may salivate but our arteries probably shudder. All those chili dogs, chicken nachos and cheese fries can quickly take a toll, so why not change things up this season? Here are a few healthier game day recipes to tackle this fall that will be sure to be a touchdown for your tailgating guests:
Neutral zone nachos
Nothing satisfies starving football fans quite like a scrumptious plate of nachos, but these appetisers can quickly stack up the calories. Try a nacho recipe that's a little more on the lighter side, foregoing the traditional cheese sauce and beef with healthier ingredients. Let's start with the chips; skip the generic, salty tortilla chips in favor of multigrain flavor, which tend to be gluten-free and possess zero genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Next, let's consider the layers, and don't be afraid to get creative. Opt for some low-sodium black beans, and pick up some avocados, scallions, tomatoes, fresh corn kernels, reduced-fat cheese and some low-calorie sour cream. If your guests need their meat, try to go with grilled chicken strips, but if you're crowd is open minded, slice up some sweet potatoes and bake them for a crispy, yet lighter addition to the game day nacho family.
Double coverage dips
It's hard to find a more addicting dish to accompany football games quite like a hearty, creamy dip. Instead of going with the routine, fattening pre-made dips, try serving up a bowl of something immensely healthier but just as delicious. Artichoke spinach dip is always an easy recipe that's bursting with flavor and light on fat and calories. For ingredients, shop for frozen or canned artichoke hearts, low-fat mayo, low-fat parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, spinach leaves and sun-dried tomatoes. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius, drain the artichoke hearts and spinach and stir together the necessary amounts of all your ingredients, eventually placing them in a small baking dish. Bake the dish for at least 15 minutes, then you'll have a warm, gooey and delicious artichoke dip that's perfect for dipping some pita bread in between commercial breaks.
Pizza… Just hearing the word stirs up your appetite. While loading up the toppings and doubling the cheese certainly seems like a great idea, it's easy to see how every slice can quickly chalk up more calories. The best part about making pizza are the nearly infinite ways to experiment with recipes, especially when using healthy ingredients. For a quick and simple dish for your game day party, think outside the pizza box and bake some mini pies, using whole-wheat English muffins as your dough, and stock up on the veggies: chopped red bell peppers, sun dried tomatoes, olives, avocado slices, vegan cheese and maybe even some pineapple slices. Sprinkle your toppings on the English muffin pizza base accordingly, stick them in the oven until they're ready and start making more, as they are sure to run out fast!
"Top off your veggie sliders with everything from avocados to fresh black beans."
Sometimes tailgating just doesn't seem the same without firing up the grill and cooking up some meaty burgers. However, switching out the traditional patties with veggie-inspired burgers is a healthier alternative that can be even richer in taste. You don't need to get too fancy - just pick up some frozen veggie slider patties and multigrain buns. Decide on the fresh ingredients of your choosing (avocados, black beans, corn kernels or bell peppers) and a reduced-fat cheese, and you're all set for game day!