It’s Football season. My sorority sisters were gather together last weekend for a 20+ year reunion to watch our beloved Colorado Buffaloes. This weekend my High School graduating class is having our 25th reunion! I could not be there for the fun but I have been reading their posts on their tailgating plans. Being all things food, I am thinking about what they are serving at their tailgates. That prompted my on question of what would I serve as a healthy tailgate? We should not have to give up our tailgate fun or even our family room viewing party fare just because we ditched processed food.
I recently hosted several events at my house. I always want to open people’s eyes and offer new foods that people might not otherwise try….including myself.
I have been serving up Life Affirming Nacho Dip from Oh She Glows this season. I was skeptical myself about this dip being something I would eat given that I have a weakness for cheese in dips. Life Affirming Nacho dip did not disappoint. I served it with some simple ingredient Blue Corn chips. I found I was eating the left overs all week.
But besides the dip, what else could make a healthy tailgate? The sky is the limit actually! I will attempt nearly anything whether its camping, at the beach or for a tailgate.
Let’s start with the classic football foods. Wings and Chili. Most wings are covered in sauces that have a ridiculous amount of sugar and processed chemical ingredients. Wings do not have to be unhealthy. Raw wings can be bought at most supermarkets; organic pastured chickens are preferred of course. After all what the chicken eats is basically what you are eating. I prefer a chicken that eats real grass and non-GMO corn feed.
Once you get in the habit of making your own wings; its as simple as coating the wings with your favorite rub, glaze or marinade and popping them in the oven. My daughter and my young nieces love these wings that my sister in law makes. After a wash with vinegar, she rubs the wings with a mix of herbs and seasonings on hand to your liking (thyme, oregano, garlic powder, ground mustard, etc). Glaze the wings with honey. Grease a pan with oil. Place wings on pan and bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. Add honey or sprinkle with coconut sugar half way through the baking.
Here are some other recipes you can try. http://againstallgrain.com/2014/02/04/buffalo-wings-dairy-free-ranch-dressing/
Then there is Chili. Chili is so versatile and really healthy. My health coach friend/Girl scout leader for my daughter made a vegetarian Wheat Berry Chili on a camp out last year. All the girls came home raving about the chili! Who would have thought my child would rave about a chili with veggies and beans!
I have now made this several times for my family and I would put it at the top of my list for the next football party. If you prefer meat in your chili the options are endless. I really like White chili. Turkey, cannellini beans and pearl barley make up the base of this chili. You can spice it up and down depending on your crowd. One of my favorite all time chili is a venison chili that a dear old friend makes. I never liked red chili much but the venison chili is to die for, seriously!! Using Cocoa powder or raw cacao also can really make a traditional chili into something different.
Classic Guacamole if made fresh at home is a great healthy football food. Serve some veggies and some whole grain chips instead of that bag of Tostitos. I do not recommend eating the whole bag of even a whole grain simple ingredient corn chip product but at least you are eating a product not so laden with chemicals.
My guacamole is very simple. I mash up 2-3 Avocados, squeeze ½ a fresh lemon in, and add sea salt to taste. I will sometimes add one chopped tomato. I usually do not add cilantro to mine but cilantro, onion or whatever you would like to create with can be added. I just like it simple.
Got to have that burger at your tailgate? No problem. Grass fed beef is the way to make that burger healthier. It’s the bun and the toppings where the problem comes in. Healthy buns are hard to find in the average store. Thus far I have only found that Whole Foods has a fresh baked set of rolls that aren’t laden with sugar and chemicals. Some still use white flour so whole grains versions are even harder to find but any of those are better than the store bought potato rolls in the bag.
Better option is to kick the traditional bun and mix it up. Try 2 firm lettuce leaves as the bun like a lettuce wrap. Try a “bun” made from 2 sweet potato or veggie pancakes. Or just have a patty. Instead of sugary catsup, use real tomatoes or even fresh salsa. Top your burger with some mixed greens or some slices of avocado. Any veggies can make a burger different an exciting. Think burger bar/make your own burger….reminds me of the Counter Burger close to my home. Yum!
Do you need something sweet with your tailgate? Cookies and brownies are abound at tailgates and parties. If you have to have a cookie or brownie my answer is, make if from scratch. If you are putting high quality ingredients in your cookies then you are saving yourself from the chemical processed concoction on the store shelves. Brownies are a great one to substitute dates for the sugar. This trick can even fool kids and picky husbands. As for cookies, I like to add a cup of whole rolled oats to my chocolate chip cookies. The fiber in the oats takes longer to breakdown in the digestive tract, slowing down the sugar spike of a cookie with just pure sugar. Oatmeal raisin cookies and Peanut butter cookies made with real peanut butter are cookies that can some protein and/or fiber. A cookie is still a cookie but being smarter about the cookie you are eating will benefit your gut health and overall health in the long run.
So here is my Tailgate Menu for a Crowd:
Life Affirming Nacho Dip from Oh She Glows
Guacamole with veggies and healthier chips
Wheat Berry Chili or White Turkey Chili
Build your own Burger Bar
Chocolate chip Oatmeal cookies, Peanut Butter cookies, Oatmeal raisin cookies
I don’t know about you but I am ready for some football!! Go Buffs! Go Bears! And I guess I’d better root for the Trojans and the Redskins too!
May the touchdowns of the season play ever in your favor.