Nothing says tailgating like hotdogs and hamburgers on the portable grill, along with chili, nachos, and hot wings. Trouble is, “aside from the celery sticks served with the bleu cheese dip, many tailgate parties don’t include any vegetables,” says Karen Mayo, an integrative nutrition, health and lifestyle coach, and author of Mindful Eating. In other words, most tailgate parties don’t score big in the nutrition department.
It’s only one meal. Still, if you want to up your diet game, chances are your guests will too. To transform your next tailgate event into a health fest, Mayo offers these superfood-inspired menu ideas, all of which can be prepped in advance for your healthy game-day plan:
Serve Edamame Dip Instead of Creamy French Onion
Edamame, those young soybeans that have been parboiled and flash frozen, “are packed with vegetable protein and fiber instead of saturated fat,” Mayo says. So, let your guests experience the joy of soy.
To Do: With a food processer, pulse 3 cups of steamed edamame with ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, the juice of one lemon, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of tahini. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with raw veggies.
Dish Up Carrot-Ginger Soup Instead of Chili
“It’s a lighter alternative to beefy chili and just as warming,” Mayo says.
To Do: Sauté minced shallots and chopped, fresh ginger in a small amount of olive oil. Add 1 pound of peeled and chopped carrots, 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon coriander. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in a blender and serve; or refrigerate for later reheating.
Give Guests the Option of Veggie Burgers
Mayo says that even the most devout meat eaters rave about her veggie burgers, which are made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and brown rice. “They don’t taste the same as hamburgers, but chickpea-and-brown-rice patties provide a similar meat-like consistency,” she says. “And they taste great, too. I get lots of compliments.”
To Do: Mash 2 cups of cooked and drained chickpeas with 1 cup of cooked brown rice and stir in 1 minced shallot, 1 garlic clove, and 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley. Stir in one whisked egg and form into four patties. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Serve on whole-wheat buns, flat bread, or rolled up in a tortilla with whole-grain mustard, red onion slices, and roasted red peppers.
Offer Corn-Black-Bean-and-Kale Quesadillas Instead of Nachos
“Your guests won’t think about how healthy these are. They’ll just know they’re delicious,” Mayo says.
To Do: Sauté kale and fresh corn in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the kale is wilted. Layer the mixture on a corn or flour tortilla and top with fresh tomatoes and cheese — such as fresh mozzarella or manchego. Top with a second tortilla and sauté until the cheese is melted, flipping halfway through. Cut in wedges to serve.
Over all, offering a healthier tailgating menu will help your team (of partiers) feel like winners.
“It’s food your guests will feel good about eating,” Mayo says. “They’ll feel better at the game, too.”