As much as the cooler weather and earlier sunsets bother me this time of year, I get over-the-top excited about football and post-season baseball. There’s something so ridiculously fun about waiting for the game on Sunday and getting together with friends and decking yourself out in all your lucky game-garb. Of course with football get-togethers comes food, and usually lots of it. I know when my friends and I get together, the amount of food we have could feed a small country.
I try to be “THAT friend” that brings the healthy stuff to parties—veggies and dip, fruit, or usually by request, taco dip (low fat of course). As much as I like the unhealthy food, I don’t like feeling so stuffed because I overdo it or knowing I derailed from my diet plan, which is easy to do with a smorgasbord of the calorie and fat traps.
Certainly, I am not going to encourage BBQ tofu instead of wings or water instead of beer, however, I think healthier choices can be made when hosting/attending a sports party AND without getting weird looks based on the snacks that are brought. You certainly don’t have to be lacking in taste and variety when making healthier choices.
An easy one is chips and dip. Typical chips are loaded with fat and extra calories and dips are made with sour cream, mayo, and sometimes cheese. 1. Swap out your chips for baked and 2. Be conscious of what you are putting in your dips. Are you able to use light or fat free products? Substitute something to make it healthier?
3. An easy substitution for traditional dips is salsa or pico de gallo, which is very easy to make and tastes better than the jar stuff any day! You can also get ‘fancy’ by adding fruit such as mangoes into your salsa for a fresh kick or black beans for a protein boost. Vegetables such as corn, peppers, onions, and tomatoes add flavor without many calories. I like dicing avocado and putting it into pico de gallo, but I don’t use much because the calories can add up quickly.
4. Instead of chips, you can go with vegetable sticks. Carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, jicama, mushrooms, etc. can be laid out with a low-fat dill dip that is flavorful and easy to whip up.
For main dishes, an easy option is 5. Chili or a 6. Taco bar. With chili, you can use lower sodium tomato juice, lots of vegetables, beans, and lean ground beef or turkey for your meat fix. Tacos can have lots of vegetable, bean, and chicken/lean beef options that can be shared with everyone. A little lime and cilantro go a long way too!
Another option is a 7.Chicken or bean quesadilla. This is easily made on a stove top or George Foreman grill and can be used with whole wheat tortillas and reduced fat cheese. Throw in a little salsa or hot sauce and a side of low-fat sour cream and you’ll be good to go.
Wings are pretty standard at many sports parties and are the epitome of “man food”. Substituting cauliflower or tofu with BBQ sauce would likely get as far with your party as the Cubs did in the playoffs this season, so I will not go there. I will throw out the idea of using 8. Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips, marinated, and baked/grilled. Again, not expecting many people to deviate from the ‘real’ stuff!
Along with the meat theme, 9. Chicken or turkey is going to be a healthier option than hot dogs, brats, or other processed meat. If you absolutely have to have red meat, choose lower fat cuts and keep portions in mind.
No party is complete without some sort of dessert that is undoubtedly sinful. 10. I love fruit kabobs as something sweet at the end of a meal or even 11. Brownies that are made with applesauce or lower amounts of sugar, but still give the same warm and fuzzy feelings as the ‘real’ thing. Get creative and see what you can come up with that won’t disappoint in the sweets department.
Last, but not least, there usually is a form of alcohol at the majority of sports parties; after all, we do live in Wisconsin. I’d like to believe that strawberry margaritas and Redd’s Apple Ale are healthy because of the fruit content, however, should be consumed in moderation. ((I’m going to go here)) 12. Light beer is an option to keep extra calories at ba, and clear spirits are usually lower in calories as well. I have found some fantastic concoctions on Pinterest that are healthier for alcoholic beverages and have fruit mixed in!
Getting together with friends for sports or any get-together is a part of life and should be celebrated. There’s no need to feel deprived, but you also want to keep your overall perspective and purpose for health in mind. I’m a true believer in everything in moderation, but sometimes it is kind of fun to break of out of the box and try something new. All little changes add up!
Thanks friends! See you soon!