Tailgate Like a Champ Without Looking Like a Linebacker
It doesn’t feel like it yet in Ohio, but football season is officially here. I must preface this entire post with a giant, obnoxious, “GO BUCKS!!!” because I graduated from Ohio State and I feel that duty calls to perpetuate the stereotype that OSU fans are all insufferable football maniacs.
Fantasy footballers have chosen their line-ups, the majority of the country is ready to peel their sweaty thighs off of baseball stadium seats and onto their couches, and Pinterest boards are filled with tailgate foods. Most of these tailgate concoctions are beefy, cheesy, fried calorie bombs (Skyline dip, anyone?) that will have you reaching for your sweatpants and leave your bathing suit stuffed in the back of a drawer like a forgotten nightmare. While it is definitely tempting to throw back a platter of nachos and a stack of wings during the game, I’m going to share with you some healthy tailgate foods that taste delicious and won’t leave you looking like a linebacker.
Grab & Go
This section is my jam because I am that person that offers to bring something, then forgets about it and/or has no desire to make anything remotely labor intensive, so I often opt for the grab n’ go items.
Nuts are the perfect tailgate food because they are healthy and filling, providing you with protein and good fats. Be careful you aren’t tipping the bowl in your mouth because they do have a high calorie content, but going overboard on nuts would obviously be better than say, going overboard on pigs in a blanket. While you can get mixed nuts at any grocery store, I also like websites with other options like https://nuts.com because you can get all kinds of nut blends, plus other yummy goods like roasted edemame and chickpeas.
Here is a great page to reference for other grab-able snack ideas. Note to self: must purchase the dark chocolate turbinado sea salt almonds immediately.
Veggie tray with hummus
This one is so easy you might be annoyed at me for even including it, but it had to be done. Hit the grocery store, nab a veggie tray and a container of hummus, and you’ve got yourself an easy, healthy app. For approximately 3 more minutes of labor, you could cut up other crowd-pleasing veggies like cucumbers and peppers to add to your selection. Note: you must actually consume the veggies to reap the health benefits. Nutrients cannot be absorbed via osmosis while you are inhaling 20 layer taco dip on the other side of the room.
Slightly More Labor Intensive:
If you want to attempt something that won’t take up your whole morning to put together, but you want your friends to fawn over your culinary skills, check out these easy snack ideas.
Buffalo cauliflower bites
We are all familiar with buffalo chicken wings, but how about a twist on the old favorite by using cauliflower? Even dudes will approve. These will also cater to any vegetarians or gluten free people at your tailgate. Get the recipe here!
I shudder to think of my pathetic existence if avocados ceased to exist. I am officially an addict, and I ain’t ashamed to admit it. Instead of buying store bought guac which usually tastes like a shadow of real guacamole and has gross preservatives added, how about you smash some stuff in a bowl and you’ve got homemade green goodness? I usually wing it with avocados, lime juice, cilantro, onion, salt and pepper, but if you want an actual recipe, this one looks legit.
Green Pea & Garbanzo Bean Dip
This recipe I found from the extremely hilarious, cutting edge, culinary geniuses at http://www.thugkitchen.com. If you don’t like profanity definitely stay away, but if you enjoy some F bombs with your mouth watering recipes, check out this website. I also have their cookbook, which makes me cry with laughter every time I open it. I will let them sing the praises of the Green Pea & Garbanzo Bean Dip.
Thug Kitchen- if you see this, can we be best friends?
Most Labor Intensive, But Not in a “Ruin Your Day” Kind of Way:
Talk about the ultimate tail gating food. Chili is relatively easy to make, you can throw together a big batch, and it is a crowd pleaser. However, with the fatty beef and ice cream scoop sized dollops of cheese and sour cream on top, chili can quickly turn into a butt enlarging, nutrition nightmare. If you want to healthify your chili, ditch the dairy on top and opt for avocado. The creaminess and healthy fats go perfectly with chili. Also, here is a lighter chili recipe that uses pulled turkey instead of beef. If you want to skip the meat completely and get your low fat protein and fiber from beans, I have made this veggie chili before and it rules.
Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs