10 Easy Swaps to Make Your Tailgate Healthier

It’s not easy to stay healthy during tailgate season, but these simple tips will make it a whole lot easier
Staff Writer

Shutterstock / Sean Locke Photography

Who needs all the fat and calories when you can swap them out with something healthy?

For football fans, this is the happiest time of the year. Not only for the game-winning rush, but also for the tailgating parties that come beforehand. Nothing beats chowing down on game-time grub. Chips, dips, burgers, ribs — eat too many of those sauced-up pulled pork sandwiches and fried Oreos, and you could be out for the count before the season is over. You worked all summer on your swimsuit figure, but all it takes is any given Sunday full of food to wreck it all.

Click here for the 10 Easy Swaps to Make Your Tailgate Healthier slideshow.

If you want to make it through the day, let alone season, you might want to reevaluate your tailgating menu. We’re not saying to show up with a salad instead of a sub — although a few more greens never hurt anyone. No, the key to a fun and healthy tailgating session is to swap out certain ingredients in your favorite meals to lighten their calorie and fat load.

Rocco DiSpirito created a low-fat barbecue rib recipe specifically for tailgating. The celeb is a regular at the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate party, and his recipe cuts the calories and fat in this popular dish by two thirds. He revamped another tailgating favorite — sausage and peppers — by swapping out pork sausage for Italian turkey sausage links. Adding fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, and peppers that have been lightly sautéed with olive oil lends a brightness and fresh flavor that more than make up for the lack of pork. “I ate sausage and peppers a lot when I was a kid,” says DiSpirito. “It’s an Italian hot dog. You have it on a bun, you hold it in your hand, and it’s delicious. Perfect for tailgating!”

Here are some more tips and tricks to make your tailgating just as much a health fest as it is a fun fest.

Break the Fast

Photo Modified: Flickr / René C. Nielsen / CC BY-SA 4.0

Eating a healthy breakfast will give you energy and keep you full.

Eat Breakfast. How can eating more be healthy for you? Most people skip breakfast when they know they have a whole day of eating ahead of them. Bad call. Eat a healthy and filling breakfast so you can control your portions during tailgating without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. 

Bring on the Buffalo


Turn your cauliflower florets into buffalo-flavored bites.

Replace Buffalo chicken wings with Buffalo cauliflower bites. They pack the same flavorful, spicy punch and have way fewer calories than fried chicken. Cauliflower is so versatile; it can really take on new flavors every time you make it. Batter and bake cauliflower florets, then coat with hot sauce and bake again. Serve with a side of yogurt gorgonzola dressing

Click here for more healthy tailgate swaps.

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