As registered dietitians and personal trainers, we’re the first to confess that we don’t mind the change of pace from the decked-out NYC parties to the cool-weathered, casual, fun-spirited jeans and blanket tailgating season gatherings. However, admittedly, getting the whole family to eat healthfully when surrounded by typical game-day fare can be a challenge. Of course, we have a few simple tricks to keep the day a lot healthier.
Here are four simple tips to follow to keep game day lighter and more nutritious. We do this and have our kids do it too!
1. Before the festivities begin, have a small snack that contains protein and fiber (like low-fat Greek yogurt and berries or pistachios and apple slices) so you’ll be less tempted to overeat.
2. Once you’re there, if you’re not hosting the party, survey the food options before you fill your plate, and then choose healthier options like fruits, vegetables, lean dairy and protein. And be sure to use your plate instead of continually grazing so that it’s easier to keep track of how much you’re eating—and try to stick to one plate.
• If kids are still hungry after eating one plate of healthy items allow them to go back for additional nutritious items (this is typically the true test of whether they’re hungry or not). If they only want junk food, you’ll know they’re not truly hungry. And of course allow them to indulge in the less healthy stuff too! Simply make sure they get enough of the nourishing items first.
3. Choose the best bets:
• Deli sandwiches cut into bite size portions (look for those with limited condiments, particularly creamy ones like mayo and cheeses which add up quickly in calories– go for avocado or mustard as a condiment)
• Veggies with hummus, salsa, black bean dip or any low-fat dip on the side
• Healthy chili made with lean ground beef or turkey (chili is loaded with fiber thanks to the beans)
• Chicken, shrimp or fruit kabobs
• Shrimp with cocktail sauce
• Chicken breast skewers served with honey mustard, barbeque or teriyaki sauce
• Fresh fruit
4. Steer clear of typical salty snacks. Sure, potato chips may taste good for a moment, but they’re gone all too fast and before you know it you’ve scarfed down a lot of calories without much nutrition.
Tailgating Tip: Look for Wonderful® Pistachios in the produce aisle. They’re high quality, convenient, and three times the protein and fiber per serving compared to potato chips. Better yet, you get a whopping 49 nuts per serving, and the shells may help slow you down. That’s good news for the hours spent snacking in front of a game. Plus, all five Wonderful® Pistachios flavors appeal to every fan’s craving whether it be for a simple salty crunch with Roasted & Salted, a dash of pepper with Salt & Pepper or a tangy spicy flavor with Sweet Chili. Bowls of pistachios are great to include in a tailgate spread, and the pre-portioned 100-calorie sized bags are a great option to satisfy savory cravings without overindulging if you’re snacking alone.
5. If you’re asked to prepare a dish, we recommend making these:
1 apple (Granny Smith is a variety that adds a subtle zing)
½ tsp of powdered ginger
1 tsp of cinnamon (plus more for garnish)
Slice a washed apple very thin, either with a knife or mandolin slicer (easy!) and place slices on a baking sheet. The thinner the apple is sliced, the crispier your chips will be. Sprinkle slices with cinnamon and ginger. Bake at 200°F for 2.5 hours, until golden and crisp. Garnish apple chips with more cinnamon! Enjoy this guilt-free snack whenever you want a crunchy pick-me-up!
The Nutrition Twins work with Wonderful Pistachios to help people make healthier snack choices.