For some folks, the act of tailgating is the highlight of the game. As a Redskins fan, the games are somewhat lackluster, so I put my energy into making sure my fellow sports fans have a spread worthy of cheering for.
Adorning most tailgating parties, you will find chicken wings, chips and dips, and probably a few bottles of beer on ice. I would venture to say that for most people, game days are also “cheat days.” But they don’t have to be. You can watch your sport and your waistline simultaneously, and I am about to show you how with these awesome and healthy tailgating recipes.
Since libations are a “must have” for many, the following blog articles will help you discover our recommendations for healthiest beers, wines, and cocktails:
- The Healthiest Beers to Drink: A Complete List
- Our List of Healthiest Wines
- 5 Yummy, Healthy Summer Cocktail Recipes
Keep in mind, good ol’ H2O is always my beverage of choice. Even on a cheat day, I prefer to chew my calories than to drink them. Now, let’s get to those healthy tailgating recipes.
Healthy Tailgating Recipes
1. Shrimp Cocktail
- 1/2 cup organic ketchup
- 2 Tbsp horseradish
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of hot sauce (I am partial to Frank’s hot sauce)
- squeeze of fresh organic lemon
- Combine all ingredients and chill until cold.
- Serve with 1 pound of cooked shrimp.
Shrimp Cocktail Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 133
- Total Fat: 1.8 g
- Total Carbohydrate: 7 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 20.6 g
2. Football Popcorn
Air-popped corn is super healthy and high in fiber, so they make a perfect healthy tailgating recipe. The issues occur when you douse the popcorn with heaping handfuls of salt and butter. Don’t even get me started on carnival-type caramel popcorn.
Fortunately, it’s easy to add some flavor without filling up on crap. I am a HUGE fan of tossing in some healthy seeds into the bowl to add another layer of crunch, and for a special treat, I add a few sprinkles of parmesan.
For healthy tailgating recipes, I like to kick things up a notch with some of my homemade seasonings. And how about these cool containers? Dollar-store find!
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 Tbsp parsley
- 3/4 tsp dried dill
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
I have a special microwave popcorn bowl where I simply add the kernels and hit the popcorn button and voila—air-popped corn. Fresh, light, and airy. You can also use an “old-school” air popper.
You can even just use a brown paper bag. Just put a 1/3 cup popcorn kernels into a medium-sized brown paper bag. Fold over the top a couple of times, and lightly wet the bag. Place into the microwave and hit the popcorn button or place on high. Make sure you stop and turn off the microwave once you hear a pause in the popping that lasts about a second. Don’t walk away while it’s popping. You want to be able to stop it at the perfect time to avoid too many un-popped kernels (though there will always be some) or burnt popcorn.
If you prefer stovetop popped popcorn, follow these simple instructions:
- Add coconut oil to a pan and heat until melted.
- Add desired amount of popcorn kernels.
- Place lid over container, and pop the popcorn over medium heat.
No matter which way your corn is popped:
- Mix one of my amazing seasonings in a glass container.
- Sprinkle the seasoning onto the warm popcorn.
Air-popped Corn Nutrition Facts:
Per 1 cup popped
- Calories: 31
- Total Fat: .4 g
- Total Carbohydrate: 6.2 g
- Fiber: 1.2 g
- Protein: 1 g
3. Healthy Spinach Dip
- 10 oz (1 package) frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 8 oz water chestnuts, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
- Place ingredients in a crockpot on high, stirring occasionally.
- Once the dip is hot, drop the heat to low.
- Serve with baked pita chips or your favorite veggies (celery and cucumber are my faves!)
Chef Notes: I have tried this with fresh spinach and it didn’t quite work out as well as using frozen spinach. Similar to when I make salsa and use fresh tomatoes. There is something to be said for canned tomatoes in salsa that just make it taste a wee bit better. This is how I feel about frozen spinach in this recipe.
Chef Notes: You can even make your own toasted pita wedges by slicing your favorite healthy tortilla into triangles and baking in the oven. Add a little sprinkle of salt and pepper and BAM. Homemade pita chips perfect for your healthy tailgating recipes.
Spinach Dip Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 140
- Total Fat: 8 g
- Total Carbohydrate: 10.4 g
- Fiber: 1.4 g
- Protein: 8.5 g
4. Jalapeno Poppers
- 16 fresh jalapeños
- 16 strips bacon
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Slice the ends off each jalapeño, then slice each jalapeño in half length-wise.
- Remove seeds and membranes with a corer or knife.
- Mix the cream cheese and cheddar cheese together in a bowl.
- Fill each jalapeño half with the cheese mixture.
- Wrap each jalapeño piece in each half of bacon.
- Place all bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
Chef Notes: You can use sweet peppers if you don’t like spicy foods. You can also use turkey bacon if you prefer that over traditional bacon.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Yields 16 peppers (32 halves) | Serving size: 4 peppers (8 halves)
- Calories: 225
- Fat: 18 g
- Carbs: 10 g
- Protein: 3 g
5. Charcuterie Board
When talking about charcuterie boards, your imagination is really the only limit. You can add a variety of textures, flavors, and colors to really make the board your own. Don’t be afraid of trying new things, and if you run out of room on your board, you can start stacking it.
I have a dear friend, Dee, who really missed her calling as a professional chef. She creates gorgeous charcuterie boards every Wednesday for a wine and cheese night with her husband. The board shown in the above picture is one of her creations.
These are my tried and true guidelines for creating a board that your tailgate will love.
Start with a wooden board. I don’t know why this is so important, but it really sets the tone for the platter.
Meat: I generally estimate about 3 – 4 slices of meat per person. I try to include a variety of flavors and textures; for example, a sliced pepper salami, a rolled prosciutto, and layers of ham.
Cheese: This is probably my favorite part of a charcuterie board. I like to choose a variety of cheeses—about 1 or 2 oz per person. Look for a variety of hard and soft cheeses, mellow to sharp. Cheeses are easiest served already sliced, but if you want to include a brie or the like, be sure to include a small knife.
Bread/Crackers: I like to include buttery flaky crackers, grain crackers, and thinly sliced and toasted baguettes. Breadsticks are a great option if you include some dips or sauces.
Fruit/Nuts: Both dried and fresh fruit will add a ton color and even more flavor to your charcuterie board. When selecting the fruits, keep a variety of colors in mind for a really vibrant board. Nuts should be shelled and salted, and fruits should be peeled and sliced.
Pickles, Olives, and Dips: A great way to finish off your board is by adding small bowls or ramekins filled with pickles, olives, jellies, mustards, and delicious dips. These are things folks enjoy snacking on, and they often serve as a palate cleanser in between the meats and cheeses.