Healthy Tailgating: 5 Foods That Won’t Ruin Your Diet

by Theresa A. Stone, MD, FACP, Internist and Medical Director of the Fresh & Savory Program
December 12, 2019

Tailgating can be one of the best parts of football season. However, between the plethora of concession stands around the stadium and the unhealthy foods your friends might bring to your tailgate, it can make it difficult to maintain healthy eating habits.

With a little preparation ahead of time and focusing on quality ingredients, you can attend your next tailgate with healthy foods that won’t kill your diet. Read on for five healthy food ideas.

It doesn’t have to be hard to eat healthy when you’re #tailgating. Learn what #healthyfoods to bring with you the next time you go to a game, via @MedStarHealth

Click to Tweet

1. Salsa

Salsa is a staple of tailgating season and with the right ingredients, you can enjoy it without ruining your diet. The good news: it can actually be low in calories. I recommend avoiding jarred salsas that are often filled with preservatives and salt, and make your own with fresh ingredients.

Consider blending the following ingredients together for a good Tex-Mex style salsa that’s sure to please your tailgating friends:

  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • Lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of onions
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes

Make sure to adjust the recipe above based on your taste, how many people you’re serving, and food allergies.

2. Guacamole

Guacamole is a great food to eat while tailgating, as it’s not messy and easy to use as a dip. What’s more, avocados—the key ingredient of guacamole—are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. A good, general recipe for guacamole consists of:

  • 4 avocados
  • 5 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 diced Roma tomatoes
  • ½ cup of diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Blend these ingredients together and enjoy!

3. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

For those who prefer to go meatless or don’t like the taste of buffalo wings, this simple recipe is a nutritious and yummy spin on a traditional tailgate party staple. You can feel good about eating it, too, since cauliflower is rich in B vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, which aids in digestion. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup red hot sauce plus extra for tossing with cooked bites
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets ( makes about 6 cups)

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all the ingredients except the cauliflower in a large bowl and mix well. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat them well. Place the coated florets on a nonstick baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Toss them with extra red hot sauce, if desired, and enjoy!

4. Hummus

Like salsa and guacamole, hummus can be used as a healthy and tasty dip at your tailgate. Hummus is a terrific source of plant-based protein, about eight grams per serving, and other nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, and phosphorus.

Furthermore, hummus helps fight inflammation, which is your body’s way of protecting itself from infection, illness, and injury. This is due to ingredients such as virgin olive oil, which contains oleocanthal, an antioxidant that is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to common anti-inflammatory medicines.

To make hummus, throw the following ingredients into a food processor (and then store it in a plastic bowl that you can bring with you to your tailgate):

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • ¼ of lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup of tahini
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

5. Taco Bowls

If you’re looking for a filling entree, taco bowls can be a great and relatively healthy option. Although ingredients can vary depending on your food preferences and food allergies, a good and popular recipe includes:

  • Ground beef or turkey
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Lime
  • Salsa

Taco bowls don’t take a lot of preparation, outside of preparing the meat. I recommend grilling the meat while at the tailgate so that it’s warm, or cooking it the night before, refrigerating it, and reheating it in a microwave at your tailgate. Make sure you don’t forget to bring plastic or paper bowls and spoons!

Maintain your healthy eating habits when you’re tailgating. With a well-planned menu, you can be confident the only penalties that occur on game day are on the field—not with your diet.

Want more advice from Dr. Theresa Stone? Click to schedule an appointment or watch the video below to learn about
the Fresh & Savory Culinary Program.

Make An Appointment

Category: Eating Healthy     Tags: Adult Nutritioneating healthyhealthy eatinghealthy food choicesnutrition