Football season is in full swing. Thousands of fans flock to stadiums every Saturday to cheer on their favorite college teams and spend the day tailgating.
Traditionally, tailgating means high calorie foods, often fried and loaded with cheese. Having fun on game day also makes it easy to munch on party snacks, even when you’re past the point of being full.
Many people can enjoy tailgating and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eat better: Have a tailgate game plan
Here are a few steps to healthfully enjoy tailgate food. First, have a winning game plan before tailgating begins. Fill up on high fiber foods before kickoff, such as celery or carrot sticks, broccoli and dip or cherry tomatoes.
“Veggies and dip, like hummus or your favorite dressing, make a tasty and crunchy snack that can hold you over until it’s time to enjoy a meal. Then you can savor small portions of your favorite tailgate classics without overdoing it,” said Katie Funderburk, an Alabama Extension specialist who is also a registered dietitian with SNAP-Ed at Auburn University.
If you are bringing a dish to a tailgate, consider bringing a colorful fruit or veggie tray. Salsa and guacamole are also crowd pleasers. A large, ice-cold pitcher of water with sliced fruit and herbs, like berries or watermelon with mint or basil, is a fresh way to stay hydrated all day long instead of sipping sugary drinks.
If you are watching the game at home, it can be easy to keep snacking all day long. Limit mindless snacking during game time by putting away some of the food once the game starts. Out of sight, out of mind. In addition, food safety rules discourage leaving perishable foods out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Check out this article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more game day food safety tips.
Move more: Get in on the action
Why should the players be the only ones moving on game day? Enjoy the changing fall weather by being active with friends and family outdoors. Throw a frisbee, toss a football, play a game of kickball or have a hula hoop contest. Too cold or rainy? Play a game of musical chairs to your favorite team’s fight song. Anything that gets people moving more and having fun is fair game.
Make a change
Follow these simple tips during football season to make healthy tailgating easy and fun. Plan ahead, stay hydrated with plenty of water, and be active while rooting for your favorite team. Take the following spinach dip recipe from the Live Well Alabama kitchen to your next tailgate.
• 1 package frozen spinach, thawed, 10 ounces
• 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1 package of vegetable dip mix, 1 ounce
• 1 teaspoon dill
• Vegetables for dipping (carrots, celery)
Squeeze thawed spinach with paper towels to remove extra water. Mix together all ingredients. Cover and chill for 20 minutes. Serve with cut vegetables.
— McCoy writes for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. For information on topics related to the home and garden, contact any office of ACES. The Limestone County Office is at 1109 W. Market St. in Athens. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call 256-232-5510 or visit www.aces.edu.