Healthiest Foods to Bring to a Tailgate

Don’t let your sweet tooth get the best of you on game day — stay healthy and enjoy nutritious food during tailgate season

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Healthiest Foods to Bring to a Tailgate

Thinkstock / MeePoohyaphoto

Nothing brings more happiness than spending time with friends and family on the day of a big game. With all of the excitement, it is easy to forget about eating healthy and limiting alcohol intake. Before the tailgating even begins, it’s important to plan for success. Healthy food preparation is key.

Cold Salads

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Create something you actually want to eat so that you are not tempted by everything else. Make your salad different and flavorful. “Get creative with different veggies, grains, and legumes,” Zanini says. “Whole grains provide essential nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, protein, and fiber.”

Crock-Pot Pulled Chicken Sandwiches on Whole-Wheat Buns

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“Lean proteins are great options to bring because they keep you full throughout the game and prevent you from running to the concession stand,” Zanini says. The combination of lean protein from the chicken and whole grains from the bun will keep you satisfied.

Dip with Veggies

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A healthy dip can be nutritious and delicious. Zanini suggests a dip sampler with hummus, baba ghanoush, and tzatziki paired with sliced vegetables.

Fresh Fruit Salad

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To stay hydrated, especially with an alcoholic beverage in hand, it is important to snack on foods that will hydrate you. “Fruits are refreshing, low calorie, low fat, and full of fiber and antioxidants are best,” says Zanini. 

Guacamole with Whole-Grain Crackers

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Guacamole, made with fresh avocado, provides a serving of healthy fat. “Healthy fats lower cholesterol, keep your heart healthy, and fill you up,” Zanini explains. 

Grilled Shrimp Kabobs

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A little protein paired with vegetables is a lean and clean eating option. Pair the shrimp with peppers, onions, and mushrooms for a lot of flavor and few calories. 

Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms

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You have a lot of freedom to make this option flavorful and healthy. Stuffed mushrooms can be made with garlic, onion, bell pepper, spinach, herbs, bread crumbs, and feta and Parmigiano-Reggiano for the perfect snack or alternative to meat. 

Red Wine


If you enjoy alcohol socially, tailgates are the perfect opportunity. “Red wine has less sugar than mixed drinks and the added bonus of antioxidants,” Zanini says. “Drink a glass of water or two in between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated and moderate the number of drinks you have.”

Roasted Nuts

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When you are craving chips, reach for nuts: Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts that have been roasted and lightly salted are your best bet. Nuts satisfy with protein and healthy fats, so you won’t resort to foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat.

Turkey, Spinach, and Avocado Roll-Up Wraps

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This will definitely be the easiest and healthiest wrap you have ever made. The combination of a whole-wheat wrap, lean turkey meat, spinach, and avocado provides you with complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Need I say more?